Arsenal FC secured their first three points of the new Barclay’s Premier League season with a 3-1 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage in an early afternoon kickoff match on Saturday.
An early goal from Olivier Giroud and two more from Lukas Podolski put ‘The Gunners’ 3-0 ahead as substitute Darren Bent scored his first goal for Fulham but wasn’t enough to deny the visitors three points.
Under the watchful eyes of their new American billionaire owner, Shahid Khan, manager Martin Jol granted new signing Scott Parker a derby debut while Bent started from the bench.
David Stockdale and John Arne Risse were the other two changes made to the side that defeated Sunderland in the opening weekend fixture.
Podolski started on the left-wing for Arsenal, with Bacary Sagna in the middle alongside Per Mertesacker while Carl Jenkinson replaced the suspended Laurient Koscielny at right-back.
Spaniard Santi Cartola was deployed for a more central role with Jack Wilshere on the bench.
Theo Walcott and Giroud came close to getting ‘The Gunners’ ahead but Walcott’s effort from 12 yards out was pushed wide by goalkeeper David Stockdale, in for the injured Martin Stekelenburg before Riise blocked the Frenchman’s header.
The breakthrough came in the 14th minute as Aaron Ramsey’s mis-hit shot fell for Giroud, who was played onside by Riise, and then calmly finishes past Stockdale for his third goal in three games.
A superb double save from Wojciech Szczesny prevented the Cottagers from equalising, just 4 minutes after the opener. Adel Taarabt’s shot was first, parried by the Pole and the ball found its way to Damien Duff, whose effort was again blocked by the goalkeeper.
Parker came close to scoring a debut goal on the half-hour mark but let fly his 18-yard shot over the visitor’s goal.
An overlapping Kieran Gibbs fluffed another opportunity of extending the lead after a pass from Walcott from a counter as he dragged his shot wide.
But Podolski fired home a shot through a crowded six-yard box from the edge of the area after Stockdale parried Walcott’s effort to extend Gunner’s lead 4 minutes to the half-time break.
Fulham made a bright start to the second period with Szczesny forced to dive low to save a Taarabt effort.
Podolski netted his brace in the 68 minute after Cazorla ran down the left wing and pulled the ball back for the German who fired in from the edge of the penalty area for Arsenal’s third.
With victory almost sealed for Wenger’s men, substitute Daren Bent pulled one back for Fulham in the 77th minute, arriving at the back post to tap in from close range a Dimitar Berbatov’s low ball across the face of goal.
Walcott, who spearheaded half of Arsenal’s attacks throughout the proceeding, was denied a deserved goal as his effort from a narrow angle was blocked by Stockdale in the final five minutes.
Defensive frailties against a rampant Arsenal side, good on the counter attack cost Jol’s men the defeat.
Up next for the Gunners is the Champions League group stage qualifier against Fenerbahce at the Emirate Stadium before another London derby with Tottenham Hotspur at the same venue on September 1.