Granit Xhaka, Alex Lacazette, Aaron Ramsey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were all on target as we kicked off 2019 with a welcome - and deserved - win.
We went into this London derby off the back of a very tough night at Liverpool, but this was a strong response to keep us in touch with the Premier League’s top four.
We started as if we had a point to prove after that mauling at Anfield. There was energy and determination in our pressing and, as early as the second minute, Xhaka had stolen possession to help set up a chance that Aubameyang spurned.
Ryan Sessegnon missed two much easier chances as Fulham exploited a spell of anxiety in our defence. He ran through only to place a shot wide, and then missed his kick completely when Andre Schurrle found him unmarked inside the box.
Xhaka settled any nerves with the opening goal, controlling Alex Iwobi’s cross and guiding the ball past Sergio Rico from close range. It was his third goal of the season - and a rare tap-in for a man who generally deals in long-range strikes.
The goal certainly gave us control and Xhaka, Aubameyang and Lacazette all went close to extending our lead before the break.
Lacazette did get the second goal with a cool finish after neat interplay between Iwobi, Aubameyang and Sead Kolasinac, who picked out the France striker inside the box.
But what looked like being a regulation win became rather more complicated when Aboubakar Kamara pulled a goal back for the visitors.
Bernd Leno had to save well from Aleksandar Mitrovic as Fulham redoubled their efforts, but Aaron Ramsey gave us some breathing space with a first-time finish into the top corner after Aubameyang’s effort had come back off the post.
Having gone so close so often, Aubameyang got the goal his hard work warranted - a deflected drive into the top corner.
Before the game a minute’s silence was observed as the club and our fans paid their respects to Peter Hill-Wood. Our former chairman passed away last week at the age of 82.
HOW IT HAPPENED
WHAT IT MEANS
This win keeps us in fifth place in the Premier League.
We’re two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea - but our London rivals have played a game less.
Unai Emery made three changes to the side that started at Liverpool.
Lacazette came in for Ramsey, Matteo Guendouzi replaced Torreira and club captain Laurent Koscielny replaced Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Shkodran Mustafi passed fit and continued in a back three.
Still sidelined by injury were Mesut Ozil, Nacho Monreal, Hector Bellerin, Dinos Mavropanos, Emile Smith Rowe, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and long-term absentees Rob Holding and Danny Welbeck.
The Premier League takes a back seat this weekend as we kick off our FA Cup campaign at Blackpool.
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