Wednesday 16 October 2019

All guns blazing for Emery as his Arsenal revolution picks up pace

Fulham 1 Arsenal 5

Arsenal's Danny Welbeck gets past Fulham's Cyrus Christie at Craven Cottage. Photo: John Walton/PA
Arsenal's Danny Welbeck gets past Fulham's Cyrus Christie at Craven Cottage. Photo: John Walton/PA

Jeremy Wilson

When the Unai Emery revolution began, few Arsenal supporters could have dreamt the mood around the club would have changed so dramatically in little more than four months.

"We've got our Arsenal back," sang their fans in the Putney End at Craven Cottgae when Aaron Ramsey impudently back-heeled home their third goal of the afternoon after a wonderful, flowing move, and it was hard to disagree.

That goal-of-the-season contender summed up the confidence that is starting to course through this team as they recorded a ninth successive victory, their best run for three-and-a-half years, breezing past Fulham with a swagger no one would associate with the latter days of the Arsene Wenger era.

Survival

Fulham's Marcus Bettinelli looks on as Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey scores their third goal. Photo: Eddie Keogh/Reuters
Fulham's Marcus Bettinelli looks on as Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey scores their third goal. Photo: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

True, it came against a side who face a fight for survival unless they can fix their obvious defensive issues, but Emery's team have quietly moved into the top four and are suggesting they can stay there.

Central to that is the form of strikers Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, both of whom scored twice, while the addition of Lucas Torreira - a genuine defensive midfielder - has made an enormous difference to a team who finally seem to be having fun again.

They are clearly a long way from the finished article - as shown by the manner in which they allowed Fulham back into the contest shortly before half-time - but the progress made under Emery is still impressive, even if the Spaniard is keen to play down talk of loftier ambitions.

"We lost the first two matches against Manchester City and Chelsea and we called for calm," said Emery.

"When we are winning now we need to be in the same way - calm, work, enjoy, enjoy working.

"Was it our best performance? I don't think 'best'. We can get better from this performance. We need to continue improving and we will."

Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring their fourth goal with Alexandre Lacazette. Photo: Eddie Keogh/Reuters
Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring their fourth goal with Alexandre Lacazette. Photo: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

Emery used a 4-4-2 system for the first time and Arsenal clearly targeted Fulham's right flank, with Lacazette, Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck taking it in turns to run at Denis Odoi.

The defender was outnumbered and it came as no surprise when Iwobi found the overlapping Nacho Monreal and he crossed the ball for Lacazette to swivel and shoot home shortly before the half-hour mark.

Arsenal briefly threatened to run away with it, but old habits die hard and they were pegged back before the break. Monreal's poor pass allowed Luciano Vietto to play in Andre Schurrle, who clipped the ball over the advancing Bernd Leno.

Parity lasted just four minutes into the second period, when Welbeck's flick bounced nicely for Lacazette to lash a volley past Marcus Bettinelli.

It was an excellent finish, but was soon overshadowed as Arsenal broke from their own penalty area, with Ramsey, Lacazette and Hector Bellerin all involved before Henrikh Mkhitaryan played in Aubameyang to cross the ball for the Welshman to flick it home impudently off the far post.

Ramsey had been on the field for only 39 seconds.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery applauds fans after the match. Photo: Eddie Keogh/Reuters
Arsenal manager Unai Emery applauds fans after the match. Photo: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

Dropped

Fulham's heads dropped and it was a question of how many Arsenal would score. They settled for five as Aubameyang turned to score, before running on to Ramsey's pass to fire another into the corner.

It meant both Aubameyang and Ramsey had provided a goal and an assist after coming off the bench - the first time two subs had done so in a single Premier League match. It was a statistic that compounded a grim afternoon for their hosts.

"We did not show, in some parts, the Premier League level," admitted their head coach, Slavisa Jokanovic.

"This is realistic. We need to be more solid. We are too easy to play against at the moment." (©Daily Telegraph, London)

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