Arsenal returned to winning ways with a performance that overcame some dogged Fulham resistance and a few close calls, to grab the points and go some way to papering over the loss to Liverpool.
Unai Emery included Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with Alexandre Lacazette, and Nigerian Alex Iwobi kept his place after he gave a display that was one of the few bright spots in our trip to Anfield. Mesut Ozil once again missed out on squad selection with his knee injury, and Emery went for three at the back, with Sokratis, Laurent Koscielny and the returning Shkodran Mustafi chosen.
In midfield, Granit Xhaka was partnered by Matteo Guendouzi, giving Torreira a much needed breather. Sead Kolasinac and Ainsley Maitland-Niles were chosen to cover the flanks and provide some much needed width in attack.
Our start was a good one, and there were early chances for Auba, set up by Iwobi, and Sead Kolasinac’s burst forward earned a set-piece that could have produced something.
The trouble is - it didn’t. For the first fifteen minutes we dominated possession, but the early flash and chance aside, we couldn’t break Fulham down. Seeing as we had recently beaten the Cottagers 5-1 in their own backyard, we could be forgiven for expecting goals.
It was Fulham who came closest.
Ryan Sessegnon avoided the offside trap and was clean through. Luckily enough for us, after being well placed he forgot his shooting boots and curled around Leno but also wide of the goal.
Fulham were looking to avenge their heavy defeat at our hands and they were breaking with great intent, but just as the away team were baring their teeth, we scored.
It was Alex Iwobi who was responsible for opening up Fulham, and his cross was well met by Granit Xhaka, who fired past Rico in the Fulham goal.
Fulham were not here to be simple fodder through, and Alexsander Mitrovic had a header held by Leno soon after the goal. We needed to keep a lid on things, and Xhaka did a good job of this when he had a shot expertly saved by Rico.
The best form of defence is attack, some say, and just before half time we had a flurry of chances, but Sergio Rico was having a good game and our strikers were denied.
Half time came and went, and the second half began with a substitute and a change of tactics, as Shkodran Mustafi was swapped for Lucas Torreira, and we went with four at the back.
The first ten minutes were a cagey affair and with a one goal lead that is perhaps understandable, but we didn’t have to wait long to double our lead.
It was a thing of beauty too. In tight confines on the left, Iwobi, Aubameyang and Kolasinac combined to set up Lacazette with a great chance and he duly obliged.
This set off a series of substitutes from both sides, including the goalscorer Laca coming off, much to the chagrin of our support, who booed the decision. Ramsey was on in his place, and Emery later revealed that this was because Ranieri was sending on Jean-Michel Seri, so Ramsey could combat his threat.
Fulham got a goal back and really brought their chances to life, as Kamara scored at the far post from Sessegnon’s cross.
It was up for grabs now, after we were in a position of authority. Kamara threatened again soon after, and we were looking a little shaky. We soon put the game to bed though, and it was Ramsey who made the points safe, collecting the rebound after Auba had hit the post.
Auba just couldn’t get a break and Rico denied him again soon after, but the Gabon man would get his goal, after his shot cruelly deflected over Rico.
We had the convincing scoreline we merited, despite what the headlines will tell you. We created plenty, and while we may have defended a little naively at times, we more than deserved this.
Onwards to the next one.