Podolski double secures the points for Arsenal at Fulham

Arsenal's Lukas Podolski (centre right) celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game

Arsenal's Lukas Podolski (centre right) celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game - Credit: EMPICS Sport

Premier League: Fulham 1 Arsenal 3

Lukas Podolski’s brace earned Arsenal their second away win in three days as they triumphed in Saturday’s lunchtime derby at Craven Cottage.

Olivier Giroud netted for the third successive game before the German forward struck either side of half-time and, although Darren Bent opened his Fulham account late on, it was not enough to deny the Gunners.

A prolonged downpour at the start of the game made passing football difficult for both sides, but it was Arsenal who adapted better to the soggy conditions.

Podolski went close with a drilled effort that was deflected behind, while Theo Walcott reacted quickly to Tomas Rosicky’s clever flick over the top, but was foiled by David Stockdale.

However, the waterlogged surface worked in the visitors’ favour on 14 minutes as Aaron Ramsey’s shot stuck under the feet of Giroud, who recovered his composure to poke the ball into the bottom corner.

Fulham almost hit back immediately as Wojciech Szczesny produced a double save to foil the lively Adel Taarabt and then Damien Duff with the follow-up.

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With the home side starting to find their feet, it needed another fine stop from Szczesny to thwart Taarabt again, while Whites debutant Scott Parker speared a decent chance over the bar.

But the Gunners finished the first half strongly, with Walcott coming to the fore on the counter-attack, and they added a second goal five minutes before the break.

Santi Cazorla released Walcott, who galloped on and fired a shot that Stockdale parried, but Fulham’s defence were slow to react and Podolski rammed home the loose ball from the edge of the box.

The Whites were quick out of the blocks at the start of the second half as Pajtim Kasami and Dimitar Berbatov combined to set up Taarabt for a low drive that Szczesny scrambled behind.

But the visitors withstood that early burst and, although Fulham rang the changes, sending on Bent and Alex Kacaniklic, the third Gunners goal midway through the second half effectively killed the contest.

Walcott was involved again, darting away on the break to find Cazorla, who tormented Riether with his close control before cutting the ball back for Podolski, who arrowed his finish perfectly into the bottom corner.

But Arsenal were denied a clean sheet nine minutes later as Berbatov chested down Riether’s cross and hit a shot on the turn that Szczesny could not hold, with Bent tucking away the rebound.

Walcott had a late opportunity to re-establish the Gunners’ three-goal advantage, but his failure to do so hardly mattered to the away supporters as they celebrated their first Premier League points of the campaign.

Fulham: Stockdale; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Duff (Bent 59), Sidwell (Karagounis 75), Parker, Taarabt (Kacaniklic 62); Kasami; Berbatov.

Arsenal: Szczesny; Jenkinson, Sagna, Mertesacker, Gibbs; Rosicky (Wilshere 69), Ramsey; Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski (Sanogo 81); Giroud (Monreal 71).