EPL Opener: Arsenal – 3 Fulham – 0

Arsenal kicked off the new English Premier League season in style on Saturday, routing recently promoted London rival Fulham 3-0 on goals by Alexandre Lacazette, Gabriel and — who else? — Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Aubameyang, the Gunners’ marquee frontman whose 22 league strikes last term made him the second-leading scorer in the Prem, sealed the result in the second half when he finished off Arsenal’s remarkable, end-to-end passing play with a perfect shot to the far post past home keeper Marek Rodák.

The primary assist deservedly went to veteran midfielder Willian, who moved from Chelsea last month. The Brazilian set up Aubameyang’s strike with a peach of a pass:

Fulham started the match at Craven Cottage brightly, but slick-passing Arsenal quickly took control of the contest. With the hosts pinned back in their own end, Lacazette opened the visitors’ account within the first 10 minutes after Fulham’s American defender Tim Ream — who was making his 200th appearance for the club — whiffed on an attempted clearance right in front of Rodák’s net.

Brazilian center back Gabriel, who was making his first start for Arsenal following his $30 million summer transfer from French side Lille, doubled the advantage for Mikel Arteta’s team shortly after halftime off a powerful point-blank header:

Arsenal finished a disappointing eighth in the English top flight last season, during which Arteta replaced the fired Unai Emery halfway through. But the Gunners ended the coronavirus-interrupted campaign with a trophy, upsetting Chelsea in the FA Cup final in August. Less than a month later, Arteta’s side opened its 2020-21 slate by beating champions Liverpool in the Community Shield.

The Gunners welcome another local rival next weekend when West Ham comes to the Emirates Stadium for Saturday’s home opener before traveling to Anfield for a rematch with the champs. Meantime, the Cottagers will try to shake off Saturday’s defeat when they meet a familiar foe in their next Prem match in Leeds, which also moved up from the second tier ahead of the new season.