Fulham (1) 1 Arsenal (1) 5
Craven Cottage, London SW6
Sunday, 7th October 2018. Kick-off time:12.00 noon
(4-2-3-1) Leno; Bellerín, Mustafi, Holding, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Welbeck; Lacazette.
Substitutes: Martínez, Sokratis, Ramsey, Guendouzi, Lichtsteiner, Aubameyang, Kolašinac.
Scorers: Lacazette (2), Ramsey, Aubameyang (2)
Referee: Paul Tierney
Good to visit the newly-promoted Cottagers again after a four year hiatus when they lost their Premiership status at the end of the 2013-14 season after a series of unfortunate results. Of course, older supporters will remember their salad days when Johnny Haynes and 1966 World Cup winner George Cohen graced their ranks; and it is not to be forgotten either by those of us who both know and care when star striker Ronnie Rooke was signed from the West London club at the grand old age of 35. Not only did he help Arsenal keep their First Division status in a difficult season, but more importantly, his 33 goals in 42 matches (which is still a post-war record that holds firm today) propelled us to our sixth championship win in eleven peace-time seasons back in 1948. Indeed, his amazing overall goalscoring tally of 70 goals in 94 matches is surely one that our modern strikers should rightly aspire to.
Despite the absence of Mesut Özil from the team today due to a back spasm, the omens looked good for us in this autumnal Sunday lunchtime by the Thames in leafy SW6, and sure enough everything started off looking as a typical London derby should look to us all. At first The Cottagers looked confident on the ball, but they appeared to have no final product, therefore Bernd Leno had no particular issues in dealing with the shots that came his way in the first quarter of an hour or so. Slowly the tables were turning. Our midfield men were starting to pick up the Fulham stragglers that were hanging around looking for spare balls that never came their way, and within no time at all we left our mark on the match with a superb goal of movement that involved speed of thought and action. Alex Iwobi collected the ball on the left, slotted it to the overlapping Nacho Monreal who wasted no time in getting it across to the waiting Alexandre Lacazette, who held off the Fulham defender, span around and put the ball in the back of the net in the space between the goalkeeper and the near post. We then started to dominate the match; but unfortunately an error in midfield led to Fulham bringing the scores even just before half-time. Within five minutes of the restart, Alexandre Lacazette got his second of the match with an absolute peach of a goal that came about from a botched throw-in from the home team. Lucas Torreira won the ball, placed it high for Danny Welbeck to nod it down into the path of Alexandre Lacazette, who struck it sweetly for 20 yards into the back of the net. And from then on, it was Arsenal all the way home. Aaron Ramsey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were the substitution pairing after the hour, and the game changed yet again; Aaron Ramsey arguably got the goal of the game after a series of clever headers and neat flicks from his team-mates found him just outside the six-yard box and he nonchalantly himself flicked the ball past the goalkeeper into the net. Now the turn of our other star striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He collected the ball from a cross by Hector Bellerín, pirouetted and smashed our spherical friend into the net for Arsenal’s fourth of the day. After more sterling work in the midfield, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got the final goal of the day, with a low shot into the corner of the net. Fulham 1, Arsenal 5. Nine wins in a row, six in the Premiership. Wow.
At last, the genie is out of the bottle, as the real Arsenal have finally stepped up to the plate with style and class. Utterly ruthless, this is the mark of performance that we need to see from now on. Every man played their part, every man was well drilled and completely professional. So many great performances across the pitch, it is almost impossible to pick out an outstanding player, but it has to be said that Alexandre Lacazette was immense today. He was coming back to assist in midfield, collecting the ball in the channels and running with oppostion defenders taking them out of position for his colleagues to have a chance to shoot at the goal; a wizard, a true star. A message for the Premiership; Arsenal are back. Be scared, be very scared. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners.
Victoria Concordia Crescit.