Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal cruised to a comfortable win at Craven Cottage this afternoon to underline their title credentials, but the concern for Marco Silva – whose Fulham side have scaled unimaginable heights in a superb first term back amongst the top flight – will be that this was a second showing in a row that lacked the tenacity that has characterised their stellar season. Fulham looked leggy and never recovered from the shock of conceding two goals in eleven minutes after the league leaders had raced out of the blocks.

The hosts looked ponderous and passive without Joao Palhinha patrolling between a stretched defence and a flat forward line and Silva’s faith in playing out from the back looked misplaced with Tosin Adarabioyo, who replaced Issa Diop at the heart of the back four, regularly passing to black shirts. They were fortunate not to go a goal between when the video assistant referee adjudged Gabriel Martinelli offside before his cross was turned into the Fulham goal by Antonee Robinson, but the reprieve didn’t last long.

In a move that reprised the way the Gunners won a far tighter reverse fixture at the Emirates in August, Gabriel Magalhaes headed in an inswinging corner from terrific Leandro Trossard whilst Ben White blocked off Bernd Leno. David Coote gave the goal, just as the Brazilian’s late winner at Ashburton Grove was allowed to stand after Arsenal’s former number one was targeted at a set play. The sense of injustice hardly fired Fulham here – and the visitors underlined their superiority with a splendid second on the break.

The breathtaking Bukayo Saka was brave enough to take Fulham tacklers on in his own final third and a raking ball from William Salaba released Trossard down the left. The former Brighton winger beat Kenny Tete too easily and hung up a cross that Antonee Robinson failed to get off the ground to contest, allowing Martinelli to head past a despairing Leno. Fulham couldn’t seem to get control of the ball and, even when Aaron Ramsdale, gifted Andreas Pereira the ball into the penalty area the Brazilian blazed wastefully off target with Aleksandar Mitrovic unmarked in the middle.

It got worse for the Whites in stoppage time. Tete conceded possession from a Fulham throw in and Trossard lifted another ball to the back post where Robinson was found wanting again as Martin Ødegaard stepped away from the American full back to end the match as a contest. Silva admitted afterwards that he laid into his team at half time but their deficit should have been worse after Granit Xhaka, Trossard and Martinelli spurned presentable chances to extend Arsenal’s lead.

Fulham were far better after the interval, but the game was very obviously beyond them. Ramsdale parried a powerful drive from Bobby Decordova-Reid, who had replaced the injured Willian, and then made another smart stop to thwart Adarabioyo before Mitrovic – without a goal in nine games now – rattled the crossbar from a corner. The hosts did very well to keep to three, although Arteta’s eye-catching outfit nearly found another goal late on as Tete slid in to block a Martinelli shot before Martnelli saw a strike dealt with by the German’s goalkeeper feet.

FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Leno; Tete, A. Robinson, Adarabioyo, Ream; Reed, Lukic; Decordova-Reid, Solomon (James 76), Pereira (Willian 76); Mitrovic. Subs (not used): Rodak, Wickens, Diop, C. Richardson, Francois, Harris, Vinicius.

ARSENAL (4-3-3): Ramsdale; White (Tomayasi 80), Zinchenko (Tierney 72), Saliba, Gabriel; Xhaka, Parety, Odegaard; Saka

(Nelson 72) Martinelli (Gabriel Jesus 77), Trossard (Vieira 72(. Subs (not used): Turner, Holding, Jorginho, Smith-Rowe.

BOOKED: Ødegaard.

GOALS: Gabriel (16), Martinelli (26), Ødegaard (45+1).

REFEREE: David Coote (Northamptonshire)