EPL

Fulham 0-3 Arsenal: Willian and Gabriel hit the ground running in routine Gunners win

By Sports Desk September 12, 2020

Arsenal made a convincing start to the new Premier League season as debutants Willian and Gabriel impressed in a 3-0 win at Fulham.

Willian set up Gabriel and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score second-half goals after helping to force Alexandre Lacazette's unmissable opener.

Mikel Arteta's side lost their final two away league games of 2019-20 to Tottenham and Aston Villa, but victory at Craven Cottage was comfortably in their grasp as soon as Lacazette struck eight minutes in to become the first player to score the first goal of a Premier League season on two occasions.

Scott Parker's men enjoyed nearly half of the possession but offered scant threat to the Gunners' goal as the challenge facing last season's Championship play-off winners was laid bare.

Fulham started positively but fell behind in disappointing fashion, Lacazette tapping in after Marek Rodak had saved from Willian, all after Aubameyang had been allowed to chase and retrieve a loose ball in the hosts' box.

Willian almost scored his first Arsenal goal with his first shot, the Brazilian striking the base of the left-hand post from a free-kick on the edge of the box.

Gabriel, who been largely untroubled in defence in the first half, made a telling contribution at the other end four minutes into the second half, diverting Willian's corner past Rodak with his shoulder.

It was 3-0 before the hour mark, Willian switching play to Aubameyang after winning back the ball in the Fulham half and the Gunners striker curling a fine finish into the top-right corner.

Michael Hector cleared off the line to deny Aubameyang a second and prevent Fulham's first game back in the top flight from becoming worse.

What does it mean? Refreshed Gunners taking shape

Arteta will be delighted with the way Willian and Gabriel performed on debut, the former earning two assists - the first Arsenal player to do so on debut in the top flight since Ray Parlour in 1992 - and completing all but one of his 26 passes.

The game also means Arsenal have lost just once in seven competitive matches and ended a two-game losing run away from home in the top flight.

Fulham will need to improve sharply if their stay back in the Premier League is going to be a long one - they failed to muster a single shot on target until a tame effort from substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic 67 minutes in.

Gabriel keeps Gunners on solid ground

Although he was barely stretched by an insipid Fulham attack, this was an encouraging debut from new signing Gabriel.

He made two tackles, three clearances and a team-high 107 successful passes and deserved a bit of luck from Willian's corner as he became the 10th Arsenal player to score on his Premier League debut.

Hector helpless

Hector struggled all day to keep Aubameyang in check and he was a little fortunate not to receive a second booking for blocking the striker's promising run, although he did manage one key block.

What's next?

Arsenal host West Ham next Saturday, while Fulham are in EFL Cup action at Ipswich Town in four days' time.

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  • European Super League: Everton accuse Premier League six of 'betraying' fans European Super League: Everton accuse Premier League six of 'betraying' fans

    Everton have accused the six Premier League clubs who have signed up to the European Super League of "betraying" football supporters.

    Plans for a breakaway league were announced on Sunday, with Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham among the 12 teams confirmed to have signed up.

    The news was met with a wave of criticism from across the spectrum, including fans, governing bodies, players, ex-professionals and other clubs.

    And on Tuesday the Toffees made clear their feelings on the matter in a scathing statement which attacked the involvement of their fellow English top-flight outfits.

    "Everton is saddened and disappointed to see proposals of a breakaway league pushed forward by six clubs," read a statement from the club's board of directors.

    "Six clubs acting entirely in their own interests.

    "Six clubs tarnishing the reputation of our league and the game.

    "Six clubs choosing to disrespect every other club with whom they sit around the Premier League table.

    "Six clubs taking for granted and even betraying the majority of football supporters across our country and beyond."

    The Merseyside club were particularly critical of the timing of the move, coming amid a global pandemic which has threatened the very existence of some clubs.

    "At this time of national and international crisis – and a defining period for our game – clubs should be working together collaboratively with the ideals of our game and its supporters uppermost," the statement continued.

    "Instead, these clubs have been secretly conspiring to break away from a football pyramid that has served them so well.

    "And in that Pyramid Everton salutes EVERY club, be it Leicester City, Accrington Stanley, Gillingham, Lincoln City, Morecambe, Southend United, Notts County and the rest who have, with their very being, enriched the lives of their supporters throughout the game's history. And vice versa.

    "The self-proclaimed Super Six appear intent on disenfranchising supporters across the game – including their own – by putting the very structure that underpins the game we love under threat."

    Since the plans were made public, the dissenting voices have come from every corner, with UEFA threatening sanctions, fans protesting and even players and managers speaking out against them.

    It is a reaction that Everton say must be taken on board by those leading the charge for a European Super League.

    "The backlash is understandable and deserved – and has to be listened to," the club's board said.

    "This preposterous arrogance is not wanted anywhere in football outside of the clubs that have drafted this plan.

    "On behalf of everyone associated with Everton, we respectfully ask that the proposals are immediately withdrawn and that the private meetings and subversive practises that have brought our beautiful game to possibly its lowest ever position in terms of trust end now.

    "Finally we would ask the owners, chairmen, and Board members of the six clubs to remember the privileged position they hold – not only as custodians of their clubs but also custodians of the game. The responsibility they carry should be taken seriously.

    "We urge them all to consider what they wish their legacy to be."

  • European Super League: Comparing all 12 clubs in planned breakaway competition European Super League: Comparing all 12 clubs in planned breakaway competition

    If you are a football fan there is simply no escaping the controversy caused by the announcement 12 teams have signed up to form a breakaway European Super League.

    Talk of such a competition is nothing new, rumours have been swirling for years, but the furore caused has still been widespread with pundits, players and fans alike united in their disapproval.

    UEFA and the major European governing bodies and leagues have vowed to do all they can to kill the proposals and huge sanctions have been threatened if the teams go ahead with the league.

    But part of the debate has also centred around the credentials of some of the teams who have been invited to participate, with six from the Premier League, three from LaLiga and three from Serie A agreeing to join. Below we have reviewed each of the 12 clubs involved.

    THE 'BIG SIX' FROM THE PREMIER LEAGUE

    Arsenal

    Arsenal's place on the list comes with the club having failed to qualify for the Champions League since the 2016-17 season, the penultimate year of Arsene Wenger's long reign. The Gunners appear unlikely to make a return via the domestic route this season, as they sit well adrift of the top four in the Premier League. However, they are still in the Europa League, with a semi-final tie against Spanish side Villarreal – coached by former Arsenal boss Unai Emery, no less – to come.

    Founded: October 1886 (initially as Dial Square)

    Trophies won: 
    First Division/Premier League: 13 times (last time was in 2003-04)
    FA Cup: 14 times
    EFL Cup: 2 times
    UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Once

    Social media following: 
    Twitter: 17.3m
    Instagram: 19.2m
    Facebook: 38.3m

    Chelsea

    The outlook for Chelsea changed dramatically in 2003, when Roman Abramovich became the new owner. Prior to the Russian's arrival, the Blues had one the top-flight title just once. They have been crowned Premier League champions five times since, however, and also enjoyed Champions League success in 2012. In overcoming Porto across two legs, they have reached the semi-finals of the competition this term for the first time since 2014.

    Founded: March 1905

    Trophies won:
    First Division/Premier League: Six times 
    FA Cup: Eight times
    League Cup: Five times
    Champions League: Once
    Europa League: Twice 
    UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Twice
    UEFA Super Cup: Once

    Social media following: 
    Twitter - 16.6m
    Instagram - 25.9m
    Facebook - 49.4m

    Liverpool 

    The Reds have a storied history, but there has been success in recent seasons under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp. No British club has won Europe's premier club competition more times than Liverpool, while the 2019-20 Premier League title triumph finally ended a 30-year wait to get back on their perch at home. However, they only featured in the Champions League once between the 2009-10 and 2017-18 campaigns, while their hopes of repeating their success of 2019 since lifting the trophy in Madrid have resulted in exits to Spanish opponents who also involved in the Super League. 

    Founded: June 1892

    Trophies won:
    First Division/Premier League: 19 times
    FA Cup: Seven times
    League Cup: Eight times
    Champions League: Six times
    UEFA Cup: Three times
    UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Twice
    UEFA Super Cup: Four times
    FIFA Club World Cup: Once

    Social media following: 
    Twitter - 17m
    Instagram - 30.5m
    Facebook - 39.1m

    Manchester City

    The Premier League champions in waiting are on course to claim a third title with Pep Guardiola at the helm. However, City slipped down to the third tier of the English football pyramid as recently as 1998, while only became one of the powerhouses of the domestic game following the arrival of a new owner in Sheikh Mansour. They first appeared in the Champions League in 2011-12 and are yet to get beyond the semi-final stage, meaning the Cup Winners' Cup success in 1970 remains the club's only European trophy.

    Founded: April 1894

    Trophies won:
    First Division/Premier League: Six times
    FA Cup: Six times
    League Cup: Seven times
    European Cup Winners' Cup: Once

    Social media following:
    Twitter - 9.5m
    Instagram - 23.3m
    Facebook - 40.2m 

    Manchester United

    United were the dominant force in the Premier League era under Alex Ferguson, winning the title 13 times to overtake Liverpool's record tally. However, since their legendary manager departed, the Red Devils have not managed to add to their overall tally as 20-time top-flight champions. There was FA Cup success under Louis van Gaal - who was then sacked - and an EFL-Europa League double during Jose Mourinho's time in charge at Old Trafford. In the Champions League, United have only gone as far as the last eight since losing the 2011 final to a Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona.

    Founded: 1902

    Trophies won:
    First Division/Premier League - 20 times
    FA Cup - 12 times
    League Cup - Five times
    European Cup/Champions League - Three times
    Europa League - Once
    European Cup Winners' Cup - Once
    European Super Cup - Once
    FIFA Club World Cup - Once

    Social media following:
    Twitter - 25.1m
    Instagram - 40.1m
    Facebook - 73.2m

    Tottenham

    Now searching for a new manager following the dismissal of Jose Mourinho less than 24 hours after confirming their Super League involvement, Spurs' best-ever finish in a Premier League season came in 2016-17 when second behind champions Chelsea. There was a Champions League final appearance in 2019 too, though they missed out on glory when losing 1-0 to Liverpool. Indeed, Tottenham have not secured silverware since the League Cup triumph in 2008, while the most recent of their two top-flight league titles was way back in 1960-61.

    Founded: 1882

    Trophies won:
    First Division - twice
    FA Cup - eight times
    League Cup - four times
    UEFA Cup - twice
    European Cup Winners' Cup - once

    Social media following:
    Twitter - 5.8m
    Instagram - 10.2m
    Facebook - 22.5m

    THE REMAINING CLUBS INVOLVED

    Atletico Madrid

    A huge club in their own right, of that there is no doubt. But the last of Atleti's LaLiga title wins came in 2014, and that was only their second since 1977. Three times runners-up for Europe's greatest continental prize but as yet there has been no Champions League triumph for Atletico Madrid. While Diego Simeone has overseen a great period at Atleti, and the club has muscled into the fight with their more illustrious Clasico rivals, it should certainly be no shoo-in that Atleti deserve an automatic spot at this table.

    Founded: April 1903

    Trophies won:
    LaLiga: 10 times
    Copa del Rey: 10 times
    Supercopa de Espana: Twice
    Europa League: Three times
    UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Once
    UEFA Super Cup: Three times

    Social media following:
    Twitter – 4.9m (Spanish account)
    Instagram – 11.1m
    Facebook - 13m

    Barcelona

    Another LaLiga heavyweight, boasting the talents of Lionel Messi of course, that would certainly not be out of place in a Super League, both in terms of history and trophies won. Barcelona's well-documented financial issues off the pitch may also offer a further explanation for the desire for a mind-boggling windfall. While Barca were beaten to LaLiga by Clasico rivals Madrid last term, they have already collected silverware this time around in the form of the Copa del Rey. Champions League success has not arrived since 2015 but Barca's credentials stand up to scrutiny.

    Founded: March 1899

    Trophies won:
    LaLiga: 26 times
    Copa del Rey: 31 times
    Supercopa de Espana: 13 times
    Champions League/European Cup: Five times
    UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Four times
    UEFA Super Cup: Five times
    Club World Cup: Three times

    Social media following:
    Twitter – 15m (Spanish account)
    Instagram – 95.9m
    Facebook - 103m

    Inter

    The Milan giants are a club rich in history, who have scaled the heights in European football.  But also another who have struggled to reach such past glories until this term – with Antonio Conte's side appearing primed to win a first Serie A title since 2010, the year Jose Mourinho oversaw a famous treble also comprising the Coppa Italia and Champions League. While some would dispute Inter's place in a Super League, the signs are the Nerazzurri are on the way back to consistently challenging among the elite.

    Founded: March 1908

    Trophies won:
    Serie A: 18 times
    Coppa Italia: Seven times
    Supercoppa Italiana: Seven times
    Champions League/European Cup: Three times
    UEFA Cup: Three times
    Club World Cup: Once

    Social media following:
    Twitter – 2.3m (Italian account)
    Instagram – 6.5m
    Facebook – 28m

    Juventus

    The Old Lady of Italian football. With 36 Serie A titles to their name, Juventus are the most successful club in the history of the Italian top flight. While the Bianconeri have not won the Champions League since 1996, they have been runners-up in 2015 and 2017 and no one can doubt the grandeur of this historic club. The past decade in Italy has been dominated by Juventus who have won nine titles in a row, but their quest for 10 has hit a bump as a side spearheaded by the evergreen Cristiano Ronaldo sits fourth in the maiden campaign of Andrea Pirlo.

    Founded: November 1897

    Trophies won:
    Serie A: 36 times
    Coppa Italia: 13 times
    Supercoppa Italiana: Nine times
    Champions League/European Cup: Twice
    UEFA Cup/Europa League: Three times
    UEFA Super Cup: Twice

    Social media following:
    Twitter – 9.1m (Italian account)
    Instagram – 48.2m
    Facebook – 45m

    Milan

    Once of the most revered and loved teams across the globe, the Rossoneri have fallen on hard times in recent years. Only Madrid can boast more than Milan's seven European/Champions League victories, while many of the all-time greats have donned the famous red and black jersey. But you have to go back to 2007 for the last time Milan were crowned champions of Europe, while 10 years have past since they lifted the Serie A title. Indeed, they have not even played in the Champions League since the 2013-14 campaign – albeit Stefano Pioli's men appeared destined to return to the competition this term.

    Founded: 1899

    Trophies won:
    Serie A: 18 times
    Coppa Italia: Five times
    Supercoppa Italiana: Seven times
    Champions League/European Cup: Seven times
    European Cup Winners' Cup: Twice
    UEFA Super Cup: Five times
    Club World Cup: Once

    Social media following:
    Twitter – 7.7m
    Instagram – 9.7m
    Facebook – 24m

    Real Madrid

    While some of the teams in this controversial process may raise a few eyebrows, there is little doubt a club with the prestige of Real Madrid would not be involved. Record winners of the European Cup/Champions League on 13 occasions (the last of which coming as recently as 2018, the third in succession under Zinedine Zidane), and 34 times winners of LaLiga (including last season) there is little doubt Los Blancos are an established part of the European elite. This term, they are into the semi-finals of the Champions League and sit second in a tight race for the top flight title in Spain.

    Founded: March 1902 (initially as Madrid football club)

    Trophies won:
    LaLiga: 34 times
    Copa del Rey: 19 times
    Supercopa de Espana: 11 times
    Champions League/European Cup: 13 times
    UEFA Cup: Twice
    UEFA Super Cup: Four times
    Club World Cup: Four times

    Social media following:
    Twitter – 36.8m (Spanish account)
    Instagram – 97.1m
    Facebook – 110m

  • European Super League: Leeds boss Bielsa warns of 'harm to football' European Super League: Leeds boss Bielsa warns of 'harm to football'

    The European Super League will bring "harm to football" and those involved are risking alienating the lifeblood of the sport – the fans.

    That is the view of Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa, who launched a scathing attack on plans for a breakaway league after Leeds held member club Liverpool to a 1-1 draw on Monday.

    Sunday's announcement was met with a huge backlash from supporters, governing bodies, non-member clubs, players, ex-professionals and pundits.

    UEFA has threatened sanctions against the 12 clubs who have thus far signed up to the scheme, with Liverpool among them.

    Reds boss Jurgen Klopp suggested he was no fan of the proposals, saying he would "try to help to sort it", while midfielder James Milner was more direct in his criticism, declaring: "I don't like it and hopefully it doesn't happen."

    Bielsa then lent his voice to the chorus of disapproval as he lamented the greed and self-interest of the clubs spearheading the project.

    "Of course it causes harm to football," he said. "This shouldn't surprise any of us.

    "The stronger teams, these powerful teams think they have most influence and are generating most of the revenue in football.

    "Taking into account this logic, when the rest of the teams are no longer necessary for them, they take privilege in their own interest and forget the rest.

    "There are structures that should put limits on the excesses of the big teams. This was inevitable.

    "The organisations could have anticipated these excesses and they could have avoided it. This shouldn't surprise us because this happens in all walks of life.

    "Of course there are different teams, more important than others but they should be conscious of the needs of each other.

    "But because football has a view that is always more commercial now, it is natural that in the world of businesses, looking only at the economic aspect, they demand the majority of it.

    "Football belongs to everybody, even if there are owners, the real owners of football are the ones who love the badge and without them football will disappear."

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