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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta singles out debutants for praise after opening day win

Fulham v Arsenal – Premier League – Craven Cottage
(Image credit: Paul Childs)

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta paid tribute to debutants Willian and Gabriel after they starred in the 3-0 win over Fulham.

Willian finished his first Gunners match with three assists and Gabriel headed Arsenal’s second goal to start his career with the club in ideal fashion and make it a dream start to the Premier League season for the Gunners.

Fulham’s top-flight return was a tough one and they had fallen behind inside 10 minutes when Alexandre Lacazette gave the visitors the lead.

“It was really good,” Arteta said when asked about the debutants’ performances.

“Obviously for Willian. He knows the league, the country and is very settled here so I knew his performance would settle straight away.

“For Gabriel it was a big challenge for him today to come in. He hadn’t played any football in the last six months and he had a terrific performance.”

Fulham v Arsenal – Premier League – Craven Cottage

Gabriel, number six, got Arsenal’s second goal (PA)

The Spaniard added: “Ideally I wanted to give him some time because he only trained for a few days with the team and physically hasn’t played a competitive match for six months, so obviously it was a risk of injury as well.

“But credit to him, he performed well, physically he felt really good and he was very happy to play.”

Arsenal passion was in evidence before the kick-off when Eddie Nketiah and Dani Ceballos clashed in the warm-up, a late challenge led to the two squaring up and needing to be separated.

When the game kicked off the pair took their seats at opposite ends of the substitutes’ bench.

However, when asked about the incident, Arteta said: “I haven’t seen anything, sorry, I was inside.”

Fulham manager Scott Parker admitted his side will have to adapt to the demands of the top-flight quickly if they want to ensure survival, having secured promotion via the Sky Bet Championship play-offs in the summer.

It was a tough start for Fulham boss Scott Parker

It was a tough start for Fulham boss Scott Parker (Clive Rose/PA)

Speaking after the match, he said: “I think, like anything, when you are a team like us you need to quickly learn and that has been the constant message from me since we have been back.

“This year we are going to lose football matches, but what we can’t afford to do is when you go and lose two or three on the bounce – which is going to happen with us – let it cripple you.

“You need to learn from it, you need to develop, you need to be big enough to understand where the mistakes are made.”