LONDON - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger saluted Lukas Podolski after his brace helped the Gunners pick up their first Premier League points of the season in a 3-1 win at Fulham.
While Olivier Giroud opened the scoring in the 14th minute, it was two brilliant finishes from the German forward either side of half-time that saw off Fulham, who could only respond with a consolation strike from substitute Darren Bent on his debut.
All the talk over the summer has been about Arsenal's inability to attract new star names to the club, but with Giroud having scored three goals in his first three matches and Podolski coming into form, Wenger believes the best could still be to come from both players in their second seasons in north London.
"I'm pleased for Lukas because he did not always start recently, but more for the balance of the team than for his personal performance," Wenger said.
"He has always a very high spirit and is a very important person in the team. Everybody loves Lukas in the squad and it's important to keep him.
"When a player doesn't play, he's not happy, and recently he did not always start. But if you look at the goalscoring record of him and Giroud, it's quite impressive."
Coming on the back of Wednesday's victory over Fenerbahce in the Champions League play-off round, Saturday's result at Craven Cottage provided further relief for Wenger.
He saw his side dominate a Fulham side being watched for the first time by new owner Shahid Khan, with Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla particularly impressive in midfield in the absence of Jack Wilshere, who was on the bench.
Giroud made the most of his good fortune to give them the lead in the 14th minute after Ramsey's shot deflected into his path, with Podolski hammering home a second four minutes before the break.