Arsenal recovered from their thrashing at Liverpool by seeing off lowly Fulham at the Emirates Stadium – with Aaron Ramsey coming off the bench to wrap up the three points.
The Gunners were humbled by a 5-1 mauling at Anfield and still looked timid at times as Fulham missed a number of decent chances before Unai Emery’s side ran out comfortable 4-1 winners.
Goals from Granit Xhaka, Alexandre Lacazette, substitute Ramsey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang added gloss to the scoreline, with Fulham’s lone strike coming from Aboubakar Kamara.
1️⃣ Granit Xhaka
Happy New Year, everyone! 😁 pic.twitter.com/YfO1pdrGm1— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 1, 2019
Emery replaced Lacazette with Ramsey, who has reportedly opened talks with a string of top European clubs about a summer move when his contract at Arsenal expires, and the Wales international scored a crucial third to give the hosts breathing space.
Arsenal should have been ahead inside three minutes as a nice move saw Xhaka feed Alex Iwobi, whose low cross was flashed over the crossbar from close range by Aubameyang.
But the sort of lacklustre first-half display that has become strangely synonymous with Emery’s first half-season in charge soon followed.
Fulham, with just two points and six goals on their travels, wasted two glorious chances to take an unexpected lead.
Ryan Sessegnon was the man who spurned both opportunities, firstly curling a shot wide after breaking in behind Arsenal’s defence before fluffing his lines when picked out at the back post by Andre Schurrle.
Just moments later and Fulham were made to pay for their profligacy as Xhaka turned home Iwobi’s cross from six yards out after drifting into the box unmarked.
FULL-TIME Arsenal 4-1 FulhamJanuary 1, 2019
Claudio Ranieri’s side were still afforded chances by an Arsenal defence which showed how it had been so easily breached at Liverpool, goalkeeper Bernd Leno on hand to keep out Aleksandar Mitrovic’s header.
If Leno’s first telling stop of the day was solid, his counterpart Sergio Rico made a spectacular save at the other end soon after to prevent Xhaka grabbing a second.
Iwobi was impressing down the left and almost created another goal for the Gunners, only for Aubameyang to head inches wide as he connected with a cross to the near post.
Rico was then alert to prevent Lacazette adding the second before the interval as he turned his strike behind.
Emery’s side needed less than 10 second-half minutes to double their lead, Lacazette on the spot to finish Sead Kolasinac’s cut-back.
The France striker passed up a fine chance to grab a third as he struck a shot too close to Rico before having a penalty shout turned down after a challenge from Fulham substitute Jean Michael Seri.
Mitrovic headed straight at Leno as Fulham looked for a way back into the game, which came as Kamara arrived at the back post to sweep home Sessegnon’s cross just nine minutes after his introduction off the bench – a moment the forward would have enjoyed after he missed a penalty he was not supposed to have taken in the recent win over Huddersfield.
Arsenal felt Lucas Torreira had been fouled by Seri in the build-up but referee Graham Scott was unmoved and the visitors were back in the contest.
Emery’s decision to replace Lacazette with Ramsey was met with widespread jeers from the home support, with Arsenal seemingly holding on.
But the Spaniard’s decision was vindicated when Ramsey hit the third, reacting to Aubameyang hitting the post by sweeping in the rebound.
The result was assured when Aubameyang rifled home a deflected shot for his 14th Premier League goal of the campaign.
- Press Association