Arsenal made a convincing start to the new Premier League season as debutants Willian and Gabriel impressed in a 3-0 win at Fulham.
Willian set up Gabriel and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score second-half goals after helping to force Alexandre Lacazette’s unmissable opener.
Mikel Arteta’s side lost their final two away league games of 2019-20 to Tottenham and Aston Villa, but victory at Craven Cottage was comfortably in their grasp as soon as Lacazette struck eight minutes in to become the first player to score the first goal of a Premier League season on two occasions.
Scott Parker’s men enjoyed nearly half of the possession but offered scant threat to the Gunners’ goal as the challenge facing last season’s Championship play-off winners was laid bare.
Fulham started positively but fell behind in disappointing fashion, Lacazette tapping in after Marek Rodak had saved from Willian, all after Aubameyang had been allowed to chase and retrieve a loose ball in the hosts’ box.
Willian almost scored his first Arsenal goal with his first shot, the Brazilian striking the base of the left-hand post from a free-kick on the edge of the box.
Gabriel, who been largely untroubled in defence in the first half, made a telling contribution at the other end four minutes into the second half, diverting Willian’s corner past Rodak with his shoulder.
It was 3-0 before the hour mark, Willian switching play to Aubameyang after winning back the ball in the Fulham half and the Gunners striker curling a fine finish into the top-right corner.
Michael Hector cleared off the line to deny Aubameyang a second and prevent Fulham’s first game back in the top flight from becoming worse.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Fulham (4-2-3-1) Rodak 7; Odoi 5, Hector 4, Ream, 4, Bryan 5.5; Reed 5, Cairney 5; Kebano 5.5 (Anguissa 63, 5) Onomah 5 (Decordova-Reid 76, 6) Cavaleiro 5; Kamara 5 (Mitrovic 63, 5.5)
Subs; Areola, Knockaert, Le Marchand. Christie
Arsenal (3-4-3): Leno 6; Holding 7, Gabriel 8.5, Tierney 7; Bellerin 6.5, Elneny 7, Xhaka 7 (Ceballos 79, 6), Maitland-Niles 6.5; Willian 9 (Pepe, 76 7) Lacazette 7.5 (Nketiah 85) Aubameynag 8
Goals: Lacazette, Gabriel, Aubameyang
Subs: Macey, Saka, Willock, Kolasniac
Ref: Chris Kavanagh 7