In a bright afternoon of football, Arsenal kicked-off the 2020/21 Premier League by smashing Fulham 0-3.
The win puts them top of the table (albeit no one else has played yet) and gets Mikel Arteta’s first full season in charge off to the best possible start. Here’s how the players rated at Craven Cottage:
Marek Rodak – 4 – A good save just before Arsenal’s first goal, and could do nothing about the third strike, but was so weak for the Gunners’ key second goal that ended Fulham’s chances.
Dennis Odoi – 4 – Got forward well but constantly exposed his defence with sloppy defending.
Michael Hector – 7 – Superb at the back, constantly putting out fires (and leading to a few spicy fouls in the second-half that maybe should have led to a second-yellow card but have led to a mark down in rating). Most tackles and clearances in the Fulham side, including one off the line late on from Aubameyang to keep the score down.
Tim Ream – 4 – Abysmal clearance in the lead-up to the opening goal set the tone for the the rest of the game. Shocking in the passing game.
Joe Bryan – 5 – Couldn’t do anything in attack due to Willian’s work-rate. Some decent set-piece delivery, however.
Harrison Reid – 6 – Battled hard but was outnumbered in the middle of the pitch.
Tom Cairney – 4 – Completely out of his depth.
Neeskens Kebano – 5 – Early chance but denied by Leno. Looked bright early but faded.
Josh Onomah – 5 – Couldn’t get it going.
Ivan Cavaleiro – 5 – Dawdled a bit too much in possession. Looking a far way from the dynamo he was last season.
Aboubakar Kamara – 5 – Worked hard but had no service.
Aleksandar Mitrovic (for Kamara 63′) – 6 – Had one of Fulham’s two shots on target in his half-hour.
André-Frank Zambo Anguissa (for Kebano 63′) – 5 – Worked hard but little else.
Bobby de Cordova-Reid (for Onomah 75′) – n/a – Came on late.
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Bernd Leno – 7 – Sharp early to to stop Neeskens after miscommunication and that set the tone for Arsenal.
Rob Holding – 7 – Solid at the back. Incredible run in the second-half where he did keepie-uppies on the move.
Gabriel – 8 – Sloppy play early but made up for it with an otherwise comfortable display and a nice header to double Arsenal’s lead.
Kieran Tierney – 8 – Imperious with the ball at his feet. Moved so well to create constant overloads and overwhelm Fulham.
Hector Bellerin – 7 – Played well, offering width and attacking energy.
Mohamed Elneny – 7 – Cut off several Fulham breaks and made the most interceptions (3) in the game.
Granit Xhaka – 8 – Some superb passes from the Swiss as he strolled about the pitch, driving the ball into dangerous areas.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 7 – A couple of solid defensive interventions. A very intelligent display as he underlapped and overloaded Fulham in midfield.
Willian – 8 – A typically relentless display in attack on his Arsenal debut. He was tracking back, holding his width and then pinning opponents back in defence. The Brazilian was always switching the play to keep Fulham unbalanced and was, ultimately, the key creative force for Arsenal as they romped to an opening day victory.
First his persistence and shot led to Arsenal’s opener, then his corner was headed in by Gabriel and finally his pass led to the third goal. Two assists on debut and a performance so good from Arsenal’s no. 12 that it seemed like the Gunners were playing with that many men.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 7 – Ran hard at Fulham, posing a threat whenever he did. Scored a sublime third goal.
Alexandre Lacazette – 7 – Nice instincts to score Arsenal’s opener, but missed a decent chance
Nicolas Pepé (for Willian 76′) – 5 – Came on, did little. Has been surpassed by yet another cheaper winger.
Dani Ceballos (for Xhaka 79′) – 6 – A few moments of sumptuous skill a timely reminder of just how good he is.
Eddie Nketiah (for Lacazette 87′) – n/a – Came on late.