Arsenal 4-1 Fulham: Gunners welcome 2019 with unconvincing win over dreadful Fulham
Arsenal beat Fulham 4-1 on New Year’s Day to seal a welcome if unconvincing win against a dreadfully poor Fulham side.
Goals from Granit Xhaka and Alex Lacazette put the Gunners 2-0 up before Abou Kamara netted late on to set up a nervy finish on New Year’s Day until substitute Aaron Ramey made it three late on prior to Pierre-Emerick’s finish
Unai Emery’s Gunners took on the Cottagers at the Emirates on Tuesday looking to start 2019 with a bang after a bad result and performance against Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday.
The North Londoners ended a tumultuous year on a low after a 5-1 thrashing by Jurgen Klopp’s Reds on Merseyside which showed just how far Emery’s side need to improve to be considered genuine title challengers.
The visit of the relegation-threatened West Londoners gave a chance to erase some of those painful memories – considering the fact prior to kick-off Fulham had not once emerged victorious at Highbury or the Emirates in a whopping 28 visits.
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While it was important to start the year off with a victory it was equally imperative the powers-that-be at the club release funds for Emery to strengthen, especially in defence – because the defensive performance on Merseyside was simply not good enough.
The less than solid backline consisting of a back three of Sokratis, Shokdran Mustafi and captain Laurent Koscielny nearly gifted Claudio Ranieri’s West Londoners an early goal on 16 minutes.
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Captain Tom Cairney powered down the right flank before sending the pacy Ryan Sessegnon through on Bernd Leno’s goal before dragging his low shot narrowly past the German’s far post.
It encapsulated just why Arsenal need to invest in new defenders, preferably in the January transfer window.
Because, quite simply, Mustafi is not good enough and never has been. Sokratis could benefit from a pacier centre-half alongside him while Koscielny at 33 surely does not have much longer as a first choice defender.
Certainly when you consider that the cruel Achilles injury picked up at the Metropolitano against Atletico Madrid back in May has robbed him of the last vestiges of pace he possessed.
Yet it was the Cottagers defence that caved in first when Xhaka slotted home in acres of space in the middle after Alex Iwobi’s cross following Sead Kolasinac’s drive down the right flank.
The goal owed more to utterly dreadful defending from the Cottagers which encapsulated why they are in a relegation battle rather than Arsenal’s attacking flair.
The lead was doubled ten minutes after the break when Lacazette lashed home from close range following a neat interchange between Aubameyang and Sokratis.
Kamara pulled a goal back on 69 minutes for the Cottagers against a static Gunners defence. Proof, if more was needed, that the club simply have to invest in better defenders.
Ramsey and Aubameyang’s late goals sealed the win albeit against a dreadful Fulham side.