Fulham 1 Arsenal 3

(Bent 77) (Giroud 14, Podolski 41, 68)

Lukasz Podolski inspired Arsenal to their first Premieship points of the season, with a deserved win in the Gunnners’ first London derby of the season. The German striker netted either side of the break, with Olivier Giroud continuing his fine personal start to the season with the opener in the teeming rain at Craven Cottage. Not even the rousing welcome of new Fulham owner Shahid Khan or Darren Bent’s first goal for his new side could dent the determination and vigour of Arsene Wenger’s men, which he was quick to pick up on after the final whistle.

“I believe we had a convincing win because we had real good team play and we looked like a team who knows what they are doing. We were always in control, got ( 2-0 lead ) at half-time and got a goal after that. The last 20 are always a bit difficult but we could have scored more,” observed the Arsenal manager.

The Gunners will now focus their sights on Champions League progression with their return leg against Fenerbahce where they hold a vital 3-0 away win, with progression to the group stage virtually guaranteed. Not that that fact would get in the way of their professionalism here at a raucous Craven Cottage.

Happy to sit back when required, and counter at pace on a heavy pitch was to have the better of Fulham who although enjoyed swathes of possession, would never really cause Arsenal too much woe. Through Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell and the languid talent that is Dimitar Berbatov, the hosts expansive determination was admitable, but their tactics completely played into Arsenal’s hands and enabled the Gunners to play at pace on the break.

Arsenal took the lead after fourteen minutes. The in form Aaron Ramsey hit a shot that ricocheted into the path of Giroud. His deft touchec flick steered the ball past Stockdale for the opener. Arsenal,doubled their advantage four minutes before the break when Podolski let fly from eighteen yards. Theo Walcott who had gone close early on saw Stockdale do well to keep out his effort, but then had the best view as Podloski picked his spot to find the target.

It was clinical efficiency from the Gunners and that most mastered of specialist Podloski should have grabbed a first half hat-trick, but seemed to be caught in two minds when clear, only to deliver neither a cross nor a shot.

With Adel Taraabt and fellow debutants Parker and Bent encouraged by Berbatov, Fulham continued to fight. However it was the Gunners and Podolski who fired in the third goal of the afternoon. In the absence of Thomas Vermaelen and Mikel Arteta, Per Mertersacker was given the captain’s armband. It was the giant German’s defensive intervention and pass to pick out Giroud which created the Gunners’ third. Giroud’s control and forward foray enabled Podolski to benefit with a precise strike low into Stockdale’s net, and Arsenal smiles to light up the dull west London grey.

Wojciech Szczesny was able and quick to deny earlier Taraabt, Damien Duff and Berbatov efforts, but Bent finally got his new team on the score sheet, after clever work from his Bulgarian team mate saw the former Villa man net after 77 minutes. By then it was already game over for the hosts, as Arsenal recovered from their season opening loss, and in some style too.