Arsenal beat Fulham to end crisis talk

Reuters, Saturday 24 Aug 2013

Arsenal overcome Fulham, Stoke City come from behind to beat Crystal Palace, Hull City beat Norwich City in the 2nd matchday of the English Premier League on Saturday

Arsenal's Lukas Podolski, right, celebrates his second goal against Fulham with teammate Olivier Giroud during their English Premier League soccer match at Craven Cottage, London, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013 (Photo: AP)

Arsenal put to bed talk of an early season crisis with a fluent 3-1 win at Fulham to register their first Premier League points of the season on Saturday.

Lukas Podolski scored twice after Olivier Giroud had grabbed the opener for the visitors while Darren Bent tapped in a consolation goal on his debut for Fulham.

There were first wins of the season for Stoke City, who came from behind to beat Crystal Palace 2-1, and Hull City, who beat Norwich City 1-0 despite having ten men for most of the match.

Everton drew their second successive game after failing to break down West Bromwich Albion in a 0-0 draw at Goodison Park, while Newcastle United's match at home to West Ham United was also scoreless.

Sunderland took the lead at Southampton through Italian Emanuele Giaccherini, but Jose Fonte equalised with two minutes to play to grab a 1-1 draw for the hosts.

It is the second time in four days Arsenal have scored three goals, following Wednesday's 3-0 victory over Fenerbahce in their Champions League playoff.

Saturday's win and the manner of the performance will go some way to making up for their opening day slip-up at home to Aston Villa, while the names on the scoresheet might make fans think twice about demands for a new marquee striker.

"Yes, I'm pleased because we played like a real team. It is never easy to play away in the league and we did it convincingly," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told BT Sport.

Both teams have three points from their first two Premier League games after Fulham beat Sunderland in their first match of the season.

Despite their resounding midweek win, the pre-match talk still focused on Arsenal's need for reinforcements and the club's perceived failure to land a signing to excite frustrated fans.

"You can get people to focus too much on who you will buy and forget how good the players are here," Wenger added.

Atrocious conditions

Giroud, who is often touted as one of the men Arsenal need to upgrade if they are to chisel out a title challenge, had his say in the debate with his third goal in as many games this season on nine minutes.

Aaron Ramsey tried his luck with a shot from distance that struck Giroud's heels and fell neatly into the Frenchman's path.

He lifted it delicately over keeper David Stockdale, standing in for the injured Maarten Stekelenburg, and into the net.

In atrocious conditions that made Arsenal's intricate passing game difficult, the visitors doubled their advantage four minutes before the break.

Santi Cazorla sent Theo Walcott free down the right, his shot from the angle was pushed out by Stockdale, but Podolski followed up and blasted his effort into the net from the edge of the area.

The German made sure of the points midway through the second half when he latched on to Cazorla's cross and fired in from the edge of the area for his second of the match, before Bent grabbed a consolation with a poacher's finish on his debut.

Hull protest

Everton found West Brom keeper Ben Foster in inspired form in front of the watching England manager, Roy Hodgson.

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce returned to former club Newcastle and frustrated his old employers in another goalless draw.

There was no place for Yohan Cabaye in the Newcastle lineup for the second match in a row after Arsenal's bid for the player drew the ire of Magpies manager Alan Pardew.

Hull City supporters staged a protest against a proposed change of the club's name to Hull City Tigers shortly before kickoff.

The fans would have been satisfied with the result, however, as they became the first of the promoted teams to find the net this season.

Yannick Sagbo was brought down in the box and Robbie Brady stepped up find the net from the spot on 22 minutes. Sagbo was then sent off five minutes later for a headbutt, but Steve Bruce's side held on.

Promoted Crystal Palace also found the net against Stoke City but their delight at Marouane Chamakh's opener was short-lived.

Charlie Adam, facing former boss Ian Holloway, who coached him at Blackpool, equalised on 58 minutes with a precise finish at the far post and Ryan Shawcross put them ahead with a powerful shot from eight metres.

Giaccherini scored his first Premier League goal when he got on the end of a Seb Larsson corner to head Sunderland into a third-minute lead against Southampton, but Fonte equalised with a glancing header.

Aston Villa were hosting Liverpool later on Saturday.

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