Germany striker Lukas Podolski scored a brace and Olivier Giroud grabbed his third goal in as many games as Arsenal recovered from its poor start to the Premier League season with a 3-1 win at London rivals Fulham on Saturday.
Arsene Wenger’s team bounced back from a home defeat against Aston Villa in a convincing manner, looking in total control most of the time at a rain-soaked Craven Cottage.
Giroud scored the opener in the 14th minute with a left-footed shot from close range and Podolski doubled the visitors’ lead four minutes before halftime with an excellent finish. Podolski completed the rout in the 68th after being set up by Santi Cazorla. England forward Darren Bent pulled one back for Fulham in the 77th.
It was Fulham’s first loss this season after it opened the campaign with a win at Sunderland. The win is likely to appease Arsenal fans, who voiced their discontent and concerns after the Villa loss, urging their club to bring in new players.
Wenger, who is still hoping he can make a marquee signing before the end of the transfer window, left England midfielder Jack Wilshere on the bench to give Podolski a start, while Fulham manager Martin Jol handed a debut to England midfielder Scott Parker, recruited from Tottenham earlier this week.
The match was played in difficult conditions, with heavy rain falling on the pitch. Arsenal created its first chance after 12 minutes when Theo Walcott’s effort was parried away by Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale, who replaced the injured Maarten Stekelenburg.
Giroud opened the scoring two minutes later, tucking in the ball past Stockdale for his third goal in three games in all competitions this season after Aaron Ramsey’s attempt deflected into the French striker’s path.
Giroud had also scored in Arsenal’s opening 3-1 home loss to Aston Villa and during the 3-0 win at Fenerbahce in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off.
Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny kept the Gunners ahead soon after with a double save, first blocking Adel Taarabt’s shot then stopping Damien Duff’s right-footed shot in the 16th minute. Fulham then created chances through Taarabt but lacked the finishing touch. Parker went close after being assisted by Dimitar Berbatov but his left-footed shot from outside the box went over the bar in the 30th.
Arsenal doubled its lead ten minutes later as Podolski showed his finishing qualities, scoring from the edge of the box after a rebound off Walcott’s shot.
Fulham got off to a good second-half start and made Szczesny work, with the Arsenal keeper forced to deny another of Taarabt’s efforts minutes before Bacary Sagna’s sliding tackle stopped Parker’s burst into the area.
But Podolski sealed Arsenal’s win in the 68th minute with a shot between the legs of a defender that ended in the far corner.
Bent, on a season-long loan deal from Aston Villa, gave the home fans something to cheer, tapping in the ball from close range after Szczesny failed to block a shot from Berbatov.