Arsenal manager Unai Emery said Aaron Ramsey is a “very important player” for the club after his goal of the season contender helped the Gunners thrash Fulham 5-1.
A contract offer to Ramsey was withdrawn last month but the Wales midfielder showed his quality when he created and finished a stunning team move to help Arsenal to a ninth straight win in all competitions – their best run since April 2015.
“For me it was very important for him to take confidence and take that first goal,” said Emery.
“He did not start in the first 11 today but when he was on he scored within a minute and that gives confidence for both him and us.
“We are happy because I think this shows the commitment we have in training and the quality and the understanding of our tactical position.
“I think we are in the first competition in the world, and we must keep taking confidence.”
Alexandre Lacazette scored two impressive goals before substitute Ramsey added a third and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted twice.
Frenchman Lacazette claimed the opening goal of the London derby at Craven Cottage when he spun on Nacho Monreal’s cutback before drilling the ball past England’s latest goalkeeping addition Marcus Bettinelli.
But Fulham drew level before the break as Luciano Vietto pounced on a loose pass by Monreal to thread the ball through to Andre Schurrle, who chipped over Gunners keeper Bernd Leno.
Arsenal regained the lead through Lacazette, after his opportune strike from long range seemed to catch the Fulham keeper by surprise, as it nestled in the bottom corner.
Ramsey was introduced in the 67th minute – and the Welshman added a third just 39 seconds later as Arsenal moved from left to right with one-touch passing and neat headers, before Aubameyang cut the ball back for Ramsey to flick past Bettinelli.
Aubameyang added a fourth when he swivelled on a low cross from Bellerin to side-foot the ball into the far corner, before the Gabon striker rounded off the scoring after a neat low finish to cap a thoroughly entertaining victory in the derby.
A sixth consecutive Premier League victory for Arsenal moved Unai Emery’s men in to fourth in the table, after Chelsea won at Southampton and Manchester City claimed a point at Anfield.
Fulham remain just above the relegation zone in 17th.
Arsenal maintain under-the-radar title push
After losing their opening two Premier League games to Manchester City and Chelsea, Arsenal are showing real signs of progress under Emery.
And the feelgood factor seems to have returned to the club, with chants of “we’ve got our Arsenal back” ringing out from the away end at Craven Cottage.
The first half was an even affair but the Gunners showed a clinical edge in the second period to blow their opposition away.
Lacazette and Aubameyang appear to have a great relationship on and off the pitch, and they both scored from the two shots they had on goal on Sunday.
Ramsey and Aubameyang became the first two substitutes to register a goal and an assist in the same game in Premier League history.
Question marks still remain over Arsenal’s ability to achieve results against the division’s top sides – but Emery is building a team that are making a habit of winning.
Attack isn’t always the best form of defence
Before Sunday’s game, Fulham striker Aleksander Mitrovic said his side “needed to be smarter at the back” but would continue to play the same way and try to score goals.
Fulham are the only Premier League side yet to keep a clean sheet this season, and the Cottagers have also conceded 21 goals – the most in the division.
But that does not seem to have deterred Slavisa Jokanovic’s men from playing attacking football, as the hosts produced 12 shots on goal in the first half, albeit five of those were blocked and four were off target.
The game could have been different as early as three minutes in when Luciano Vietto capitalised on a misplaced pass from Bellerin, but his fierce effort was well saved by Leno, via a Rob Holding deflection.
But as the match developed, the visitors’ quality began to tell and Fulham’s attempt to go toe-to-toe with the Gunners was ruthlessly exploited.
Defeat by the likes of Arsenal will not determine the Cottagers’ season, but Jokanovic may have to tweak his approach against top-quality opposition.
Arsenal return to Premier League action after the international break at home to Leicester on Monday, 22 October (20:00 BST), while Fulham travel to Cardiff on Saturday, 20 October (15:00). BBC Sport