Arsenal 2-0 Fulham
Two goals from Santi Cazorla at the start of the second half wrecked Fulham's hopes of taking anything from their visit to the league leaders.
The Whites had looked composed and well organised during an even first 45 minutes, but once the Spanish midfielder had pierced the massed defensive ranks, there was only one outcome likely.
In truth Rene Meulensteen's men rarely threatened during a one-sided second half and it became more a question of damage limitation for the Whites and a matter of routine for the hosts.
Fulham may still be looking for their first ever win at Arsenal, but they have been in the habit of making life uncomfortable for the Gunners at Emirates Stadium in recent seasons.
And they gave as good as they got in a tight first half of few clear-cut chances.
The Whites looked far more solid at the back than they had done during Brede Hangeland's absence and it was no coincidence that his return to league action gave Fulham the steeleness they have been craving. Dan Burn too put in an assured performance on his Premier League debut.
There was also a sharpness about the counter-attacking which promised – but that was less of a feature once the Gunners were in front.
Hangeland was soon needed – sliding in to clear a goalbound shot off the line after Jack Wilshere had played in Mesut Ozil.
At the other end, a linesman's flag may ultimately have intervened, but there was encouragement to be had from Steve Sidwell's full-blooded drive from outside the area that Wojciech Szczesny had to stretch to tip over.
Then Ashkan Dejagah almost got to a quick ball played in from the right by Sascha Riether – Arsenal's keeper being alert enough to snuff out the danger.
Maarten Stekelenburg pulled off the save of the half – getting down low to his left to keep out a shot from Bacary Sagna – the ball having broken to the full-back inside the box after a Cazorla free-kick had been blocked.
Arsenal were bound to up the ante after an unimpressive first half showing and they did not have to wait too long to get their noses in front.
Patient probing almost bore fruit when Serge Gnabry cut onto his left foot for force Stekelenburg into another save.
Soon after, Fulham were at sixes and sevens when Sagna had a shot blocked as the pressure mounted, but in the very next attack on 57 minutes, Cazorla broke the deadlock with a smart finish past Stekelenburg's left hand after moving on to a Wilshere cut-back.
The Spaniard instigated the move in the first place and was now on a high, so it was perhaps no surprise that he found the net again five minutes later with a left footer from outside the area after Fulham failed to deal with a cross from the left.
Darren Bent was brought on for Dejagah in the hope of finding a way back into the contest.
The striker almost netted after rounding the keeper in the final minute, but put his shot wide under pressure from a defender.
As it was, Arsenal sub Lukas Podolski went closest to adding to the scoreline with a thunderous shot that Stekelenburg did well to help onto his near post.
Pajtim Kasami's late free-kick almost squirmed past Szczesny, but it would only have been a footnote.
Line up: Stekelenburg; Riether, Hangeland, Burn, Richardson; Parker, Sidwell, Dejagah (Bent 68), Dempsey, Kacaniklic (Kasami 86); Berbatov. Subs not used: Stockdale, Riise, Hughes, Karagounis, Duff. Attendance: 60,000