On a wet and wild afternoon at Craven Cottage, Arsenal beat Fulham 3-1 to pick up their first points of the 2013-14 season.
A Lukas Podolski double and an early strike from striker Olivier Giroud did the damage for the Gunners, who claimed their first win of the season down by the banks of the River Thames.
Giroud gave Arsenal the lead in the 13th minute in slightly fortuitous fashion, as Aaron Ramsey’s shot ricocheted perfectly into the Frenchman’s path.
Ramsey‘s shot smashed into Giroud’s legs as he tried to jump out of the way in the penalty box, however the ball hit the Frenchman’s legs and bounced straight into his stride and he coolly slotted past David Stockdale in goal for Fulham.
But as the first half wore on, Fulham got into the game and were unlucky to not equalize.
A tremendous double save from Wojciech Szczęsny denied the Cottagers an equalizer and Fulham looked the most likely to score as half time arrived.
However the Gunners put on a terrific counter-attacking move in the 41st minute, as Santi Cazorla released Theo Walcott, and the England winger’s shot was saved by Stockdale. But the rebound was only pushed into the path of German international Lukas Podolski who swept the ball home to make it 2-0.
Following the interval, Fulham again made all the pressing but couldn’t find a way past Szczęsny and Arsenal’s resolute defense. Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell tried to get things going in midfield, but Ramsey was everywhere and provided Arsenal with bite in the tackle and poise on the ball.
That was evident as Arsenal grabbed their third goal with a terrific strike from Podolski for his second goal of the game.
In the 67th minute, Giroud fantastically brought down a long ball and fed it wide to Cazorla who cut inside and teed up Podolski. The German attacker took one touch and rifled a left-footed shot across Stockdale and into the net.
Yet the Bent-Berbatov partnership for Fulham showed early signs of becoming a fruitful one, as in the 76th minute Berbatov controlled the ball majestically before sweeping a shot towards the back post.
In typical predatory fashion, Bent arrived on cue to knock the ball home for a debut goal.
Fulham tried to press for another goal, but Arsenal’s defense held firm to seal the win despite a spirited display from Martin Jol’s Cottagers.
Fulham: Stockdale; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Duff (Bent 57), Parker, Sidwell (75 Karagounis), Taarabt (Kacaniklic 62); Kasami; Berbatov. Subs not used: Etheridge, Briggs, Boateng, Ruiz.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Sagna, Gibbs, Ramsey, Rosicky (Wilshere 70), Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski (Sanogo 81), Giroud (Monreal 72). Subs not used: Fabianski, Frimpong, Zelalem, Gnabry.