As it has done for most of the season, Arsenal’s attacking efficiency masked defensive fragility as they registered a 4-1 success over Fulham.
For all the Gunners impressive attacking combinations, they remain vulnerable to a stiff breeze, let alone a side languishing in the lower reaches of the Premier League and, in some ways, they have the visitors ineptitude in front of goal to thank for allowing them to cruise to victory.
It’s not the first time we have seen a performance like it from Unai Emery’s Gunners and, with the defence as it is right now, it certainly won’t be the last.
While we will probably get away with it at the Emirates, you can’t help feeling that it will once again became our Achilles’ heel on the road in the second half of the season.
Still, that said, three points is three points, no matter how you come by them and we have a mini-break now with the FA Cup that may just allow some of our injured players to find their way back into the side before we travel to West Ham on January 12.
Here are three things to take away from victory over Fulham
Goals, goals, goals
For everything that goes on behind them, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette remain focussed on doing their job at the top end of the pitch, and it was great to see them both on the scoresheet again today.
Auba, in particular, finds himself on the end of two or three glorious chances in most games and, despite being out on the right against Fulham, kept patience and earned his goal late on.
Lacazette has to work a little harder than his strike partner for the chances that come his way but he has a knack of scoring at important times in tight matches. If the both of them can carry on scoring at the rate they are doing, the focus can go at last on investment in our beleaguered defence.
Ainsley and Alex
Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been threatening to break through into the first-team squad for some time now and, but for injury and ill fortune, may have done so a little sooner than he has.
That said, a string of calm and mature performances in different positions in the team have seen his stock rise considerably and he must now be considered a serious challenger to a first XI berth now and in the future.
If he can develop his positioning and end product under Emery, he will become a real asset to the squad.
So too Alex Iwobi, who went off the boil a little going into the Liverpool match but showed again that he has all the ability to be a successful alternative to Mesut Ozil. While not quite as gifted as the German, Iwobi has an eye for a pass, good technical ability, and a bag of tricks at his disposal which have seen him trusted with starting berths on a number of occasions under Emery. Let’s hope he can add consistency to his game and win over those fans who are quickly on his back when things don’t quite go his way.
It has been said before, many times, but I say it again: We should not be letting him go.
It is too late to take back the decision, even if we wanted to, but it has to be recognised that this man was worth every penny that was being offered. I would love to know why the contract offer made to him was taken off the table because, judging by the teams being linked with the Welshman, he is seriously sought after and letting him go free in the summer seems criminal.
His energy, experience, positional awareness and contribution on the pitch cannot be underestimated and so it was again against Fulham. When needed, he popped up in the right place at the right time and provided the right finish. Would Henrikh Mhikitaryan have done the same in those circumstances?