Aaron Ramsey scored an early goal of the season contender as Arsenal thrashed Fulham to record a ninth straight win for the first time since April 2015.
Alexandre Lacazette scored two impressive goals before substitute Ramsey finished off a classic team move and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted twice.
Frenchman Lacazette claimed the opening goal of the London derby at Craven Cottage when he spun on Nacho Monreal’s cutback before drilling the ball past Marcus Bettinelli.
But Fulham drew level before the break as Luciano Vietto pounced on a loose pass by Monreal to thread the ball through to Andre Schurrle, who chipped over Gunners keeper Bernd Leno.
Arsenal were a different side after the interval and Bettinelli – called up by England this week – produced the save of the game to keep out a fierce strike from Bellerin, moments before Lacazette added his second – an early strike from long range which seemed to catch the Fulham keeper by surprise as it nestled in the bottom corner.
Ramsey was introduced in the 67th minute – and the Welshman added a third just 39 seconds later as Arsenal moved from left to right with one-touch passing and neat headers.
The ball made its way to fellow substitute Aubameyang, who swept the ball across the face of the Fulham goal for Ramsey to flick past Bettinelli.
Aubameyang added a fourth as he swivelled on a low cross from Hector Bellerin before side-footing the ball into the far corner.
And the Gabon striker rounded off the scoring after a neat low finish to cap a thoroughly entertaining victory in the derby.
Fulham had their opportunities to respond. Aboubakar Kamara had the pick of their chances but shouldered Cyrus Christie’s cross instead of meeting it with his head.
A sixth consecutive Premier League victory for Arsenal moved Unai Emery’s men up to third in the table, a point behind Manchester City and Liverpool, who meet at Anfield later on Sunday.
Fulham remain just above the relegation zone in 17th.
Attack isn’t always the best form of defence
Before Sunday’s game, Fulham striker Aleksander Mitrovic said his side “needed to be smarter at the back” but would continue to play the same way and try to score goals.
Fulham are the only Premier League side not to have kept a clean sheet this season, and the Cottagers have also conceded 21 goals – the most in the division.
But that does not seem to have deterred Slavisa Jokanovic’s men from playing attacking football, as the hosts produced 12 shots on goal in the first half, albeit five of those were blocked and four were off target.
The game could have been different as early as three minutes in when Luciano Vietto capitalised on a misplaced pass from Bellerin, but his fierce effort was well saved by Leno, via a Rob Holding deflection.
But as the match developed, the visitors’ quality began to tell and Fulham’s attempt to go toe-to-toe with the Gunners was ruthlessly exploited.
Defeat by the likes of Arsenal will not determine the Cottagers’ season, but Jokanovic may have to tweak his approach against top-quality opposition.
Despite conceding five, there were some positives, as Maxime le Marchand made three crucial interceptions inside his own area.
And in Denis Odoi, Fulham have a calming influence who could help steer the club to safety between now and May.
More to follow.
Source BBC News