Arsenal continue march towards title with imperious display at Fulham
Against Bournemouth last week, the Gunners had to come from two goals down and score a 97th-minute to earn three points.
It was a completely different story at Fulham, however, as they had the game wrapped up by half-time.
Arsenal were three goals to the good by that point and it would not be exaggerating to say the lead could have been double that.
This was an emphatic responded to City beating Crystal Palace on Saturday night. That 1-0 win had reduced the gap at the top to two points, but the Gunners showed no signs of feeling the pressure as they brushed aside Fulham.
It was so comfortable that Arteta even had the luxury of throwing on Gabriel Jesus for his first piece of action since injuring his knee at the World Cup.
Arsenal were excellent in the opening 45 minutes, but Fulham were equally poor. Without midfielder Joao Palhinha, the hosts lacked any bite.
Arteta’s side took full advantage, with Gabriel, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard all finding the net.
They were three goals that summed up the first-half as Arsenal punished Fulham for sloppy defending.
For the first, Gabriel waltzed in unmarked to head home Trossard’s corner. The second saw Martinelli beat Antonee Robinson at the back-post from a Trossard cross. The third once again came via the boot of Trossard as this time Odegaard profited by bringing the ball down and firing past Bernd Leno.
That rounded off a miserable half for left-back Robinson, who was run ragged by Arsenal’s front-three. It was the same for Kenny Tete on the other flank and both were fortunate not to be hooked at half-time.
Arsenal were unlucky not to be further ahead, too. They had a goal ruled out for offside, while Granit Xhaka and Trossard were guilty of missing good chances. Leno also made a good save to deny Martinelli.
There was a flicker of life from Fulham after the break, who did at least force Aaron Ramsdale to make a smart save to deny Bobby Decordova-Reid. Aleksandr Mitrovic also saw a header cannon off the crossbar.
Other than that, it was a cruise for Arsenal and the final 20 minutes allowed Arteta to unload his bench.
Bukayo Saka was given a rare rest and, even more importantly, Jesus made his first appearance since December.
His every touch was cheered and he almost got on the scoresheet, but Leno got down well to stop him.
It was about the only thing that did not go Arteta’s way during a near-perfect afternoon.