Wenger thrilled to wit­ness Podol­ski among the goals

A brace from Ger­man for­ward helps Gun­ners sink Ful­ham

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Lon­don

Arse­nal man­ager Arsene Wenger saluted Lukas Podol­ski af­ter his brace helped the Gun­ners pick up their first Pre­mier League points of the sea­son in a 3-1 win at Ful­ham.

While Olivier Giroud opened the scor­ing in the 14th minute, it was two bril­liant fin­ishes from the Ger­man for­ward ei­ther side of half­time that saw off Ful­ham, who could only re­spond with a con­so­la­tion strike from sub­sti­tute Dar­ren Bent on his de­but.

All the talk over the sum­mer has been about Arse­nal’s in­abil­ity to at­tract new star names to the club, but with Giroud hav­ing scored three goals in his first three matches and Podol­ski com­ing into form, Wenger be­lieves the best could still be to come from both play­ers in their sec­ond sea­sons in north Lon­don.

“I’m pleased for Lukas be­cause he did not al­ways start re­cently, but more for the bal­ance of the team than for his per­sonal per­for­mance,” Wenger said.

“He has al­ways a very high spirit and is a very im­por­tant per­son in the team. Ev­ery­body loves Lukas in the squad and it’s im­por­tant to keep him.

“When a player doesn’t play, he’s not happy, and re­cently he did not al­ways start. But if you look at the goalscor­ing record of him and Giroud, it’s quite im­pres­sive.”

Com­ing on the back of Wed­nes­day’s vic­tory over Fener­bahce in the Cham­pi­ons League play­off round, Satur­day’s re­sult at Craven Cot­tage pro­vided fur­ther re­lief for Wenger.

He saw his side dom­i­nate a Ful­ham side be­ing watched for the first time by new owner Shahid Khan, with Aaron Ram­sey and Santi Ca­zorla par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive in mid­field in the ab­sence of Jack Wil­shere, who was on the bench.

Giroud made the most of his good for­tune to give it the lead in the 14th minute af­ter Ram­sey’s shot de­flected into his path, with Podol­ski ham­mer­ing home a sec­ond four min­utes be­fore the break.

His pre­cise fin­ish af­ter some bril­liant play from Ca­zorla set­tled mat­ters in the 68th minute, be­fore Bent’s goal 13 min­utes from time, and Wenger said that he had been de­lighted with the way his play­ers ap­proached the game.

“We adapted our style of play, but we looked very danger­ous ev­ery time we won the ball back,” he said.

“It was at some level im­pres­sive — we had a good mix­ture of pa­tience and speed and that was pos­i­tive. I changed a bit the shape of our team be­cause I rested Jack and we played with four de­fend­ers and six of­fen­sive play­ers, so we had to make it a bit tighter in num­ber.”

With Scott Parker mak­ing his de­but along­side Steve Sid­well in mid­field, Ful­ham looked la­bored by com­par­i­son.

Dim­i­tar Ber­ba­tov and Adel Taarabt only showed glimpses of their tal­ents on a rain­soaked af­ter­noon by the River Thames and man­ager Martin Jol knows they will need to im­prove.

“Ev­ery time we stuck to our jobs we did well, but they scored two goals out of the blue,” he said.

“You have to take your chances when they come, but we lacked the cut­ting edge up front. We tried to be pos­i­tive, but it’s very dis­ap­point­ing to lose our first match at home. They are a good team and Ca­zorla is an amaz­ing player who was pulling the strings all game.”

Wenger de­nied Arse­nal has sub­mit­ted a new bid for Yohan Cabaye af­ter its ini­tial 12 mil­lion pounds ($ 19 mil­lion) of­fer was re­jected by New­cas­tle United last week.

Yet de­spite the con­vinc­ing win, the French­man said he re­mains hope­ful of adding to his squad be­fore the trans­fer win­dow shuts on Sept 2.

“We will be a bit un­der me­dia pres­sure maybe, but I know ex­actly what I want to do,” he said.

“It doesn’t change any­thing — we are in the mar­ket and I know you ex­pect news from us. I will try to give you some, but at the mo­ment there is noth­ing to an­nounce.”

CARL COURT / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Arse­nal striker Lukas Podol­ski (right) bat­tles with Ful­ham mid­fielder Alexan­der Kacaniklic dur­ing the English Pre­mier League match at Craven Cot­tage in Lon­don on Satur­day. Arse­nal won 3-1.

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