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A Lukas Podolski double earned Arsenal the first victory of their Barclays Premier League campaign as they completed a comfortable 3-1 win at Fulham on Saturday.
Podolski scored a goal in each half after Olivier Giroud had opened the scoring early on, while Darren Bent grabbed a late consolation for Martin Jol's men after coming off the bench for his home debut.
Fulham manager Jol made three changes from his side's opening 1-0 win at Sunderland, handing a debut to new signing Scott Parker and also bringing in David Stockdale in goal and John Arne Riise at left-back.
His counterpart Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, opted to rest Jack Wilshere in favour of Podolski, while also making two enforced changes in selecting Carl Jenkinson and Santi Cazorla in place of the suspended Laurent Koscielny and the injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Both sides started patiently amid torrential rain and it was Arsenal who carved out the first clear-cut chance of the game after 10 minutes when Theo Walcott was denied by Stockdale after latching on to a superb through-ball from Tomas Rosicky.
But the visitors did not have to wait long to edge ahead, as Giroud opened the scoring just four minutes later.
There was an element of good fortune about the goal as Aaron Ramsey scuffed a shot from 20 yards that caught the striker's heel and ran perfectly into his path. However, the France international still had plenty to do and he deftly lifted the ball over the advancing Stockdale for his second Premier League goal of the campaign.
Fulham responded well to that setback, though, and Wojciech Szczesny was forced to make an outstanding double save from Adel Taarabt and Damien Duff shortly afterwards.
The hosts continued to press for an equaliser but were served a warning of Arsenal's potency on the break when Walcott sprinted clear down the right and teed up Kieran Gibbs, only for the full-back to drag his shot wide.
Walcott was again heavily involved as the visitors doubled their advantage four minutes before the interval. Stockdale saved the England forward's shot well after he had been played in by Cazorla, but Podolski followed up with an unerring side-footed finish from 18 yards to send Arsenal in two goals to the good at the break.
Fulham flew out of the traps with real intent in the second half and Szczesny saved smartly from Taarabt's drive just two minutes after the restart. But the Gunners were again dangerous on the break, and Ramsey almost added a third in the 57th minute after Walcott had nodded Gibbs' deep cross back to the Welshman, but his shot was deflected wide.
That proved to be a pre-cursor for the third goal, as another slick counter-attack led to Wenger's side increasing their advantage on 68 minutes. The ever-dangerous Walcott was again key, as he fed Cazorla down the left. The playmaker then rolled the ball back to Podolski on the edge of the area and the Germany international took a touch before sending a blistering shot into the bottom corner.
Substitute Bent gave the hosts a glimmer of hope nine minutes later with a typical poacher's finish after Szczesny had parried Dimitar Berbatov's clever half-volley, but Arsenal held on to complete their sixth consecutive away Premier League victory.
Fulham manager Martin Jol: “The story of the first half is that we had three shots on goal, which is more than our average, so that was good. There was not the quality in the finishing, in the shots, in the crosses that you want, and then they scored. I think it was a shot on goal [by Aaron Ramsey] so it was a little bit lucky.
“Then we took the initiative and then they scored, but the only thing that I would be a little bit disappointed about is that you can lose your shape if you are after a goal, and that is what happened for the third goal, for example.
“But if you look at the positives; Bent scored, Parker played ever so well – he did exactly what I wanted from him, he was cool on the ball, worked hard, he tried to spread the ball – Adel Taarabt first half I thought was okay, Kasami, a young lad, did well. When we stuck to our job we did well, but they scored two goals out of the blue, because I don’t think they had a lot of chances in the first half. You have to take your moments, you have to take your chances, you have to be more greedy, and we lacked a cutting edge up front.”
“We tried, we were positive. There were some positives but it’s very disappointing to lose your first home match.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "We adapted our style of play a bit today but we were very dangerous every time we won the ball back. It was impressive because we had a good mixture of patience and speed in our game and that was positive today. I changed the shape of our team today because I rested Jack. We played with four defenders and six offensive players so we had to make it tighter with numbers but of course when we had the ball we were always looking dangerous.
"I am pleased for [Podolski] because he hasn't started much recently more because of the balance of the team than his performances. I am pleased because he plays with a lot of spirit and he can score goals. Everybody in the squad loves Lukas and I want to keep him. When a player doesn't play he is not happy and recently he did not always start but if you look at his and Giroud's goalscoring record it's very good."
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