Newly-promoted Fulham found their reintroduction to life in the Premier League an ominous one as they fell to defeat at Craven Cottage.
A confident Arsenal demonstrated the kind of quality the Whites are likely to face regularly this season – and goals from Alexandre Lacazette, Gabriel and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gathered up the points for the Gunners with some ease.
Fulham manager Scott Parker kept faith mainly with the players who had helped win promotion only a few weeks ago, despite recruiting a number of new faces.
Only goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, could find a place on the bench, Parker claiming the additions are not quite match ready.
Surprisingly, however, last season’s top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic was only a substitute, with Abou Kamara taking his place.
Fulham, though, got an early taste of the fresh and unforgiving nature of top tier football when Arsenal punished them with the opener as early as the eighth minute.
With Tim Ream failing to clear a wayward Granit Xhaka effort, eventually the ball fell to Lacazette who forced the ball home after Marek Rodak parried Willian’s close range shot. It was certainly a shoddy goal for the hosts to concede.
Arsenal began to dominate most of the possession, with star man Willian clipping the base of the post with a free kick, as Fulham struggled to cause any threat in the final third.
Rodak was called into action to make a smart save at his near post from an Aubameyang angled shot as Arsenal looked in the mood to double their lead before the break.
Regrettably for Fulham, the north Londoners found their patience rewarded four minutes after the restart. Gabriel, Arsenal’s impressive new centre half, met a Willian corner to head a simple goal from six yards.
And Arsenal added a sublime third goal in the 57th minute to all but finish off the contest. A tremendous cross field pass by Willian found Aubameyang on the edge of the Whites’ penalty area – and the Gunners’ captain had time to control the ball before curling a shot past Rodak.
Mitrovic eventually replaced the toiling Kamara in the aftermath as Fulham hoped to at least threaten Arsenal in the air across the closing stages. It never materialised, while Aubameyang was inches from adding a fourth, only for Michael Hector to impressively head off the line.
The Gunners – like the majority of the encounter – kept a firm grip on the tempo with Mikel Arteta’s men fully meriting all three points. In the main, Fulham’s inability to create any clear-cut opportunities was telling, but they will surely enjoy better afternoons in what is sure to be a demanding season.
Fulham: Rodak, Odoi, Hector, Ream, Bryan, Reed, Cairney, Kebano (Anguissa 62), Cavaleiro, Onomah (Decordova-Reid 74), Kamara (Mitrovic 62).
Subs not used: Areola, Knockaert, Le Marchand, Christie .