First-half triple sees Arsenal win at the Cottage

Having pulled off a chaotic late comeback last time out against Bournemouth, Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal faced a short trip across London on Sunday afternoon to Craven Cottage – where they’d meet an in-form Fulham side pushing for a place in Europe next season.

FUL: Leno; Robinson, Ream, Adarabioyo, Tete; Lukic, Reed; Solomon, Pereira, Decordova-Reid; Mitrovic

ARS: Ramsdale; Zinchenko, Gabriel, Saliba, White; Xhaka, Partey, Odegaard; Martinelli, Trossard, Saka

Arsenal started strongly, with play heavily focused on the left flank – and they had the ball in the back of the net early on, as Gabriel Martinelli surged in-field before releasing a curling shot. Bernd Leno was able to parry it away, but Antonee Robinson’s unfortunate deflection saw the ball end up in the back of the net – though a VAR check found Martinelli was offside in the buildup, so the goal was chalked off.

They didn’t have to wait long for a goal that would count though, as Gabriel Magalhães opened the scoring five minutes later – heading home from Leandro Trossard’s inswinging corner to give the Gunners the lead on the road.

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Arsenal found a second soon after, after Trossard received the ball from Granit Xhaka, working his way past Tete before firing a cross towards Martinelli who headed home to double the Gunners’ advantage. Mikel Arteta’s side were crusing – and Trossard was in fine form, picking up his second assist of the game within just thirty minutes.

The visitors should have bagged a third after Saka and Odegaard’s link-up play created a chance for Martinelli, who played in Trossard – but the Belgian’s curling effort was sent just wide of the post. Fulham’s first real chance of the fixture came minutes before half-time, as Aaron Ramsdale’s clearance found Andreas Pereira – though under pressure, the midfielder skied his strike over the bar, rather than playing it to an unmarked Mitrovic.

In stoppage time, Martin Odegaard found the bottom corner to add to Arsenal’s advantage once again – using his chest to control Trossard’s chipped cross before firing a curling effort past Bernd Leno. In providing that assist, Trossard became the first player to assist three first-half goals in a Premier League away game.

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Fulham emerged from the break with a newfound confidence, and at times were able to pin the Gunners back into their own half – though Arsenal’s resolute defence were able to deal with this pressure. The Cottagers’ best chance came in the 70th minute, as Aleksandar Mitrovic rattled an effort against the crossbar.

A win on the road for Arsenal saw Arteta’s side re-establish their five-point lead at the top of the table, which they’ll look to maintain as they host Crystal Palace next weekend. For Fulham, this result hasn’t helped their hopes of securing European competition next season – they sit level on points with Brighton, though the Seagulls have three games in hand over Marco Silva’s side.