Laying down another marker on Sunday afternoon, Arsenal resorted their five-point buffer at the top of the Premier League table thanks to a 3-0 romp away at Fulham.
While Mikel Arteta’s youngsters might have watched on as Manchester City claimed a gritty 1-0 win away at Crystal Palace on Saturday evening, the Gunners certainly came flying out of the traps here.
With defender Gabriel opening the scoring after just 21 minuets after powering home from Leandro Trossard’s corner, Arsenal really didn’t have to get out of second gear in west London.
Breezing their way to a 3-0 lead at half-time as both Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard finished off a pair of blistering attacks, Arteta’s side really couldn’t have wished for an easier test away from the Emirates.
Although Fulham might have continued to gain a string of plaudits since making their Premier League return this season, the Cottagers would have been left disappointed by a flat display on home soil.
On an afternoon that saw Arsenal once again extend their buffer at the top of the Premier League table to five points, what did we learn from Sunday’s showdown at Craven Cottage?
It is Arsenal’s title to lose
Although Arsenal might have traveled across the capital on Sunday afternoon with Manchester City breathing down their neck, the Gunners certainly didn’t show any signs of a phycological struggle here.
While Arteta’s young squad might have been felt like they missed a chance earlier in the week as they opened their Europa League knockout stage adventure with a 2-2 draw away at Sporing Lisbon, they came roaring back at Craven Cottage.
Breezing their way to a 3-0 lead when heading into the half-time break, Arsenal are now inching their way towards Premier League history.
Although Sunday’s guests might have found themselves in the midst of a minor wobble when opening February, the Gunners have now won each of their last five straight Premier League appearances.
Still riding what has been a remarkable wave of momentum after snatching that last-gasp 3-2 victory at home against Bournemouth last weekend, Arsenal are sat firmly in pole position to claim a first domestic crown since 2004.
Gaining a reputation for their free-scoring displays over the past month, Arteta’s inexperienced squad aren’t showing any signs of taking their foot off the accelerator.
Martinelli is crucial for Arteta
Although Martinelli might have opened the New Year in the midst of an eight-match run without a goal, the 21-year-old has only underlined just how important he is to Arteta’s side over the past few weeks.
Causing Fulham’s leaky defence a string of problems on Sunday afternoon, Arsenal’s attacking star has now notched five goals in as many Premier League outings.
Forming what has been a stellar relationship with Bukayo Saka, Martinelli has already bagged 12 Premier League strikes this season – more than he had managed in his previous three combined top-flight campaigns.
Although Arteta might have once again been filled with praise for Martinelli’s performance here, fans around north London will be hugely excited to see Gabriel Jesus finally make his return from a long-term knee injury.
Coming off the bench and making a 13-minute cameo appearance, Jesus’ return could prove to be a huge boost for Arsenal and their charge to make Premier League history in 2023.
Fulham can’t let their season just fizzle out
Already putting 39 points on the board after making their Premier League return this season, there is no doubt that Fulham have gained a string of plaudits from up and down the country.
While Marco Silva’s side might have opened the 2022/23 campaign tipped by many as a leading contender to be hit with an immediate Championship return, the former Everton boss also finds his side sat in pole position to claim a shock top-half finish.
However, while Fulham might have already cemented their spot as one of the Premier League’s surprise packages this season, they have shown some recent issues.
Eventually falling to an action-packed 3-2 loss at the hands of west London rivals Brentford last weekend, Silva’s side have now claimed just a single point from any of their last three Premier League appearances.
Nevertheless, although the Cottagers might have shipped six strikes in their back-to-back defeats, Fulham could be looking to put all of their eggs in the FA Cup’s basket.
Booking their quarter-final ticket thanks to a 2-0 win against Leeds on February 28th, Silva’s men will be looking to spring a major FA Cup upset when they travel to Old Trafford next weekend.
Fulham: Leno, Tete, Adarabioyo, Ream, Robinson, Reed, Lukic, Reid, Pereira, Solomon, Mitrovic
Subs: James, Wilson
Arsenal: Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Xhaka, Partey, Odegaard, Saka, Trossard, Martinelli
Subs: Jesus, Nelson, Tierney, Tomiyasu, Vieira
Goals: Gabriel (21’). Martinelli (26’), Odegaard (45+2’)
Yellow Cards: Odegaard
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: David Coote
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