LONDON, England (Reuters) – Arsenal’s attacking players picked apart Fulham’s lacklustre defence with ease in Sunday’s 3-0 win but it was their defensive performance that earned praise from manager Mikel Arteta. Arsenal restored their five-point lead over Manchester City atop the Premier League with a comfortable victory at west London side Fulham, earning a clean […]
Soccer-Arteta praises Arsenal defence after win at Fulham
LONDON, England (Reuters) – Arsenal’s attacking players picked apart Fulham’s lacklustre defence with ease in Sunday’s 3-0 win but it was their defensive performance that earned praise from manager Mikel Arteta.
Arsenal restored their five-point lead over Manchester City atop the Premier League with a comfortable victory at west London side Fulham, earning a clean sheet a few days after Arteta lamented some soft goals his side had conceded recently.
Arsenal also became the first top-flight team in English Football League history to win five consecutive away London derbies without conceding with a combined score of 11-0.
“It’s that love for defending that 11 players have to be committed to for 96 minutes,” Arteta said. “It’s going to be crucial if we want to keep winning games.”
Three days ago, Arsenal had to fight back to earn a 2-2 draw with Sporting in their Europa League last-16 first leg.
Sunday’s game was a total about-face, as goals by Gabriel, Gabriel Martinelli and captain Martin Odegaard sent the Gunners into the halftime break with a 3-0 lead. They nearly had four, as an Antony Robinson own goal was ruled offside by VAR.
“Really happy,” Arteta said after the win at Craven Cottage.
“It’s a really tough place to come, (Fulham are) a really well organised team and I think we dominated the game, we created lots of chances, we kept a clean sheet and we won the game in a convincing way. So I’m very happy.”
Leandro Trossard, signed in January, contributed three assists, despite concerns earlier this week about his fitness.
“He was really impressive,” Arteta said of the Belgian winger. “He had an injury three days ago which could have taken a week but he was really willing to come back.”
The French coach was also pleased for forward Gabriel Jesus, who came on in the 77th minute to a roar of applause from Arsenal fans, the Brazilian’s first action since a knee injury suffered at the World Cup in November.
Arteta embraced Jesus in a one-handed hug after the final whistle blew.
“He put a lot in the last few months and all the staff spent so many hours to fulfil his needs,” Arteta said. “He wanted more and he was very willing to get back. To see him there with a smile was a joy. I’m really happy for him.”
Fulham, who are eighth, gave the leaders too much respect, manager Marco Silva told Sky Sports.
“We were flat and didn’t show any fire in the game. There was no intensity,” he added. “I don’t need to talk about their quality because it was more about ourselves.
“We can’t give away those chances in the first half. The second half was slightly different but it was already too late. We showed too much respect and were flat in the first half.”
Fulham had several chances after the break including a close-range header by Aleksandar Mitrovic that hit the bar but by then the game was already over as a contest.
(Reporting by Lori Ewing; Editing by Ken Ferris)
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