Well, that couldn’t have gone much better, could it?
A nervy beginning – that was more in part to Fulham’s confident start than Arsenal’s sloppiness – was quelled just eight minutes in when Alexandre Lacazette got off the mark for the season with a scrappy opener.
The Cottagers continued to try and play the way that got them promoted from the Championship last season; patient build up play and short passes through the thirds, edging their way towards wide areas of the pitch.
More from Pain in the Arsenal
In a similar vein to the same time these two sides last met, the Gunners got another early goal in the second half as debutant Gabriel Magalhaes headed (shouldered?) home from Willian’s corner to put the visitors in a commanding position.
Fulham heads dropped at this point, and even the imposing presence of Aleksandar Mitrović was unable to inspire Scott Parker’s men to find a route back into the game. The three points were wrapped up in fine style as a sweeping move culimnated in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bending a sweet strike beyond Marek Rodák with half an hour to go.
2020/21 really couldn’t have got off to a better start. The dust has settled on a performance that was far from rusty, so here is what we learned from Saturday’s Premier League clash.
Gabriel Magalhaes is Everything Arsenal Have Been Missing
I bet nobody was saying that three minutes in!
Indeed, after Ainsley Maitland-Niles‘ pass back to goal was strangely left by the 22-year-old Brazilian, allowing Aboubakar Kamara to sneak in and almost round Bernd Leno for the opener, supporters’ hearts sank.
Mere minutes into his debut, there was a dreaded feeling that this defensive curse that has plagued the club for years had seeped its way into Gabriel already. He was struck by the supposed Arsenal hoodoo.
Which is what makes the following 80 minutes of his performance all the more impressive. For a lad who doesn’t speak a word of English, he came across so assured in everything he did. Noticeably the onus was on him, not his more experienced partner Rob Holding, to pass out from the back. Every time in possession, his head was up, his arms stretched out, looking for a ball into the feet of whoever found the room.
A couple of loose passes to start with were quickly ironed out, and he zipped the ball across the turf with a confidence we never thought possible after those opening moments. Scoring a debut goal really topped it off.
Early days (and weak opposition), sure, but he looks like everything the Gunners have been sorely missing. Not to mention, HE HAS A LEFT FOOT. Goodness gracious it was nice to see a centre-half spread the ball out wide with an in-swinging motion for a change. We’ve missed that. And yes, I know it’s ‘only’ Fulham.