Arsenal ran riot at Craven Cottage this afternoon to regain their five-point lead at the top of the Premier League table with a convincing 3-0 victory over Fulham.
After a quiet start to proceedings, Arsenal thought they had struck first blood on 16 minutes when Antonee Robinson turned the ball into his own net but the goal was marginally ruled out for offside following a VAR check.
Granit Xhaka had slipped in Gabriel Martinelli with an incisive ball before the Brazilian’s effort on goal was pushed away by Bernd Leno and rebounded into the back of his own net by Robinson. However, Martinelli was adjudged to have been offside in the build-up.
Five minutes later Arsenal took the lead and there was no ruling this one out. Gabriel climbed highest to power an emphatic header past former Arsenal number one Bernd Leno from Leandro Trossard’s inswinging corner.
Martinelli doubled Arsenal’s lead after 26 minutes. Trossard stood up a delightfully floated ball towards the far post for Arsenal’s top Premier League goalscorer to nod home into the bottom corner.
Xhaka had a fantastic opportunity to extend Arsenal’s lead after 36 minutes following a superb passing move.
The Swiss midfielder let Martin Odegaard’s reverse ball inside run through to Trossard before the Belgian played it into the feet of Xhaka, but his touch let him down and Leno smothered him.
Just before half-time, Martinelli had a chance to grab his second of the afternoon but Leno was equal to his volleyed effort at the back post following a searching cross by Ben White.
Then with the very last action of the half, Odegaard capped off a dominant 45 minutes by the Gunners to make it 3-0.
Arsenal’s captain showed great composure to work himself an angle before firing past Leno with a clinical finish after collecting the ball from Trossard’s cross. This goal made it a hat-trick of assists for the Belgian on his return from a slight groin injury.
Fulham had their best chances in the 69th minute when Aaron Ramsdale got down well to deny a fierce Bobby Reid strike before Tosin Adarabioyo rattled the crossbar from the resulting corner with a towering header.
Arsenal cruised through the second half, barely leaving second gear. The Gunners won the game in the first half and were content to do a professional job to see out the game.
Mikel Arteta’s side regained their five-point cushion over Manchester City with this comprehensive victory
They were also boosted by the return of Gabriel Jesus, who played for the first time since November.
Fulham have lost two on the bounce but will now turn attention to their FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United next Sunday.
Fulham player ratings
Bernd Leno (6/10) – Made a couple of decent saves and not much he could have done for any of the goals.
Kenny Tete (5/10) – Found it hard to deal with Martinelli’s pace and movement.
Tosin Adarabioyo (6/10) – Did okay considering it was his first Premier League start since January but struggled to deal with Trossard’s movement.
Tim Ream (6/10) – Not really at fault for any of the goals but again found it hard to cope with Trossard dropping deep.
Antonee Robinson (5/10) – Struggled in 1v1 situations and was unable to get forward much.
Harrison Reed (5/10) – Lost a lot of his duels and failed to give his side any control in the middle of the park.
Sasa Lukic (6/10) – Got stuck in but the drop off in quality from the suspended Palhinha was clear to see.
Bobby Reid (6/10) – Came closest to scoring for the home side but was not involved much.
Andreas Pereira (6/10) – Could not get on the ball much due to Arsenal dominating possession.
Manor Solomon (6/10) – A quiet game for the man in form.
Aleksandar Mitrovic (6/10) – Was unable to get into the game much but did not receive a lot of service.
Harry Wilson (5/10)
Daniel James (5/10)
Arsenal player ratings
Aaron Ramsdale (7/10) – Did his job when called upon and played out from the back well.
Ben White (7/10) – Good in possession but was not tested much defensively.
William Saliba (7/10) – A generally solid defensive performance.
Gabriel (8/10) – Dealt with Mitrovic’s physicality well and put his side in front.
Oleksandr Zinchenko (7/10) – Tidy in build-up with not much to do defensively.
Thomas Partey (8/10) – Controlled the game from the base of Arsenal’s midfield.
Martin Odegaard (8/10) – Scored a great goal and was as creative as ever.
Granit Xhaka (7/10) – A generally solid performance from the experienced midfielder.
Bukayo Saka (7/10) – Not as involved as the rest of the front three but tidy in the build-up and caused Robinson some problems in 1v1 situations.
Leandro Trossard (9/10) *MOTM* – A superb performance from the Belgian. Claimed a hat-trick of assists and was involved in most good things Arsenal did going forward.
Gabriel Martinelli (8/10) – Got himself on the scoresheet and was a constant threat to Fulham’s backline with his pace and energy.
Kieran Tierney (6/10)
Reiss Nelson (6/10)
Fabio Vieira (6/10)
Gabriel Jesus (7/10)
Takehiro Tomiyasu (7/10)
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