This season has been a mixed bag for Arsenal fans, with the club in a transitional period but Arsenal’s win against Fulham was like normal service had just been resumed. It almost harked back to the days of Pires, Bergkamp and Henry, almost but not quite.
It would be easy to get carried away by this exhilarating performance but the defence still needs reminding to occasionally defend, because Arsenal were unbelievably sloppy at times and can’t afford to be so when they meet the big guns. Emery is achieving his overhaul in a quiet and confident fashion. The ideas that he arrived with at the Emirates, are now starting to become more of a glorious habit.
Fulham have been battered since they arrived in the Premiership and they concede far too many goals at present to stay there. At this rate, they could well be down the wrong end of the table within a month, looking up. All the goals were superb and perhaps Ramsey’s will catch the eye and be applauded the most but Lacazette’s second (49) was my own personal favourite.
A misguided backward header and the Frenchman pounced, turning to unleash a powerful shot into the bottom left corner. It came out of absolutely nowhere and underlined Lacazette’s credentials. He may not be able to get a place in the French team but there’s no doubt about his abilities or vision. His first came after 29 minutes when Iwobi fed Monreal out on the left. The low cross came to the Frenchman with his back to goal, he turned on a dime and popped the ball into the corner.
It was almost balletic, a perfect pirouette that left the Fulham goalkeeper, Marcus Bettinelli, looking bemused. Before that Vietto for Fulham, was a constant thorn but Mitrovic was unusually and surprisingly quiet. Leno had to palm an early deflected shot from Vietto around the post as Arsenal lapsed into non-defence mode but the equaliser was coming.
Mkhitaryan wasn’t too far away from adding to the score for Arsenal, with the three-man backline splitting like a rotten coconut dropped from the top of a multi-story carpark. Fulham’s reply came from André Schürrle who calmly dinked the ball over the advancing Leno, from a subtle Vietto pass. The blame was square with Monreal’s loose ball, which allowed Vietto in, with the centre-backs at sixes and sevens.
The nearest man, Rob Holding was too far advanced and slow to turn but the support simply wasn’t there. Mustafi could only follow the ball into the net, in a futile attempt to prevent the inevitable. In the second half, Iwobi made way for Ramsey and in less time that it takes to put the kettle on, he had the ball in the net. Bellerin benefited from a Schurrle slip and passed to Ramsey. Ramsey played the ball forward to Lacazette, an exchange between the pair took place, which resulted in Lacazette hoofing the ball behind Bellerin.
The Spaniard improvised with an outrageous backheel into the path of Ramsey, who kept the ball flowing with his head. His second header on the bounce found Mkhitaryan, who fed Aubameyang on the left, the striker poked the ball across the box, for Ramsey to flick the ball off his heel into the goal. 11 touches involving just five players started the fans thinking that Wenger was back in the dugout, and we were briefly transported back to the days of an imperious Arsenal on the march and thirsty for goals.
But this is very much Emery’s Arsenal. Quick and slick, looking to attack at every opportunity and able to convert those forays into goals. Talk of a top-four finish is very premature but Arsenal are on a roll and in decent form, so the optimism could be vaguely justified. Aubameyang, apparently with a virus. finished the game with goals in the 79th and 90th which underlined his class and predatory attributes.
Even with Ozil missing, due to a back spasm, his absence wasn’t really an issue because Arsenal’s desire was so strong. Each player seems more motivated and driven, looking to push forward to feed the cutting edge strike force. Fulham appear low on confidence and ran out of gas when Arsenal restored their two-goal advantage and the gaps appeared frequently for Arsenal players to fill. Perhaps they are beginning to realise that life in the Championship is one thing but it’s another level in the premier league.
Things need to improve quickly if they are to avoid being sucked into the relegation vortex and at Christmas things may become even worse. Arsenal still need to sort out their defensive lapses and against better teams will find themselves playing catch up, but let’s not detract from the best performance of the season by this flourishing gunners side.
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