sport news Arsenal 4-1 Fulham: Gunners close gap to Chelsea in race for fourth

In the immediate aftermath of Arsenal's opening goal, the television cameras did not pan to the dugout, where Unai Emery appeared relieved or to the terraces, where supporters embraced.

Instead, they cut to Fulham's young winger, Ryan Sessegnon, who trudged upfield, with his head bowed and a forlorn look to the ground. Granit Xhaka had provided the breakthrough but Sessegnon had previously held this game in his grip and deep down, the teenager will surely know this.

Twice in the first-half, Fulham cut through a dreadful and anxious Arsenal defence and twice the 18-year-old spurned opportunities that he will surely gobble up every day at the training ground.

Arsenal cut the gap to fourth-placed Chelsea to two points on New Years' Day with a comfortable victory over Fulham

Arsenal cut the gap to fourth-placed Chelsea to two points on New Years' Day with a comfortable victory over Fulham

Granit Xhaka put Arsenal ahead when the Switzerland international stabbed Alex Iwobi's cross into the net in the 25th minute

Granit Xhaka put Arsenal ahead when the Switzerland international stabbed Alex Iwobi's cross into the net in the 25th minute

Xhaka scores his side's first goal of the afternoon at the Emirates Stadium as Fulham's Tim Ream tries to block his attempt

Xhaka scores his side's first goal of the afternoon at the Emirates Stadium as Fulham's Tim Ream tries to block his attempt

Alexandre Lacazette doubled Arsenal's lead 10 minutes after the break when he finished off a good team move

Alexandre Lacazette doubled Arsenal's lead 10 minutes after the break when he finished off a good team move

The French striker bent an effort from inside the penalty area past the goalkeeper and a Fulham defender on the line

The French striker bent an effort from inside the penalty area past the goalkeeper and a Fulham defender on the line

Arsenal striking duo Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang produce their trademark celebration after making it 2-0

Arsenal striking duo Lacazette and produce their trademark celebration after making it 2-0

Fulham substitute Aboubakar Kamara pumps his fit after drawing Fulham back into the game with a close range finish 

Fulham substitute Aboubakar Kamara pumps his fit after drawing Fulham back into the game with a close range finish 

Their optimism did not last long though as Aaron Ramsey came off the bench to add a third for Arsenal and seal the victory

Their optimism did not last long though as Aaron Ramsey came off the bench to add a third for Arsenal and seal the victory

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang rounded things off with a fortunate finish that looped over a helpless Sergio Rico

rounded things off with a fortunate finish that looped over a helpless Sergio Rico

MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS, PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE 

Arsenal (3-4-1-2): Leno 6; Mustafi 5 (Torreira 45, 6), Sokratis 6, Koscielny 5.5; Maitland-Niles 6; Guendouzi 7, Xhaka 6, Kolasinac 7; Iwobi 8 (Saka 83); Lacazette 7 (Ramsey 75, 6), 7.5.

Subs not used: Cech, Elneny, Lichtsteiner, Nketiah.

Goals: Xhaka 25, Lacazette 55, Ramsey 79, 83

Bookings: None

Fulham (3-4-3): Rico 7; Odoi 6, Ream 6, Le Marchand 5.5; Christie 5 (Fosu-Mensah 56, 6), Cairney 6.5, Cisse 6 (Seri 61, 6), Bryan 6; Schurrle 5.5 (Kamara 61, 6.5), Mitrovic 6, Sessegnon 6.

Subs not used: Bettinelli, Johansen, Ayite, Vietto.

Goals: Kamara 69

Bookings: Fosu-Mensah

Referee: Graham Scott 6

Premier League Premier League Championship League One League Two Scottish Premiership Scottish Div 1 Scottish Div 2 Scottish Div 3 Ligue 1 Serie A La Liga Bundesliga

Granit Xhaka put Arsenal in front with his first home Premier League goal since December 2017. Click HERE for more from our MATCH ZONE.

Granit Xhaka put Arsenal in front with his first home Premier League goal since December 2017. Click HERE for more from our MATCH ZONE.

The first opportunity came in the 18th minute and it was the kind of chance we have seen Arsenal concede on so many occasions over the years. Overcommitted to attack both in numbers and in mind, Fulham raced upfield on the counter-attack and after Aleksandar Mitrovic cushioned the ball back to Tom Cairney on the halfway line, the Fulham captain instantly weighted a low pass to the run of Sessegnon on the inside right channel. He sped the distance of the Arsenal half, beyond his cast of heavy-legged pursuers but confronted by the whites of the goalkeepers eyes, he opened up his body and curled wide.

Greater trauma was to follow. As Cairney spread the play for Andre Schurrle, the German crossed delightfully for the unmarked Sessegnon, who, with the goal gaping, missed his kick entirely.

Within moments, the ball was in the Fulham net and with it, their hopes of an unlikely victory greatly diminished. The Arsenal goal was well-worked, as Alex Iwobi cut in from the left and picked out the run of Xhaka. The Swiss midfielder had ambled in on Cairney's blind side and slotted the ball past Sergio Rico easily.

Managers Claudio Ranieri and Unai Emery share a warm embrace on the touchline ahead of kick-off on Tuesday afternoon

Managers Claudio Ranieri and Unai Emery share a warm embrace on the touchline ahead of kick-off on Tuesday afternoon

Arsenal and Fulham hold a minutes silence in memory of Peter Hill-Wood, the former Gunners chairman who died last month

Arsenal and Fulham hold a minutes silence in memory of Peter Hill-Wood, the former Gunners chairman who died last month

Arsenal's Sokratis Papastathopoulos jumps for a header with Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrovic during the early stages

Arsenal's Sokratis Papastathopoulos jumps for a header with Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrovic during the early stages

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal looks to release the ball to a team-mate under pressure from Fulham's Denis Odoi

of Arsenal looks to release the ball to a team-mate under pressure from Fulham's Denis Odoi

Fulham missed a good chance to draw first blood when Ryan Sessegnon broke forward before sending his curling shot wide

Fulham missed a good chance to draw first blood when Ryan Sessegnon broke forward before sending his curling shot wide

Arsenal had taken only four points from the previous four games, including Saturday's 5-1 defeat at Anfield and their five-man defence, despite featuring the experience of Laurent Koscielny,

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