Fulham host Arsenal at Craven Cottage as the Gunners look to secure a ninth consecutive win in all competitions under Unai Emery.
A summer where Fulham spent close to £100 million on new signings to mark their Premier League return hasn’t gone to plan . The Cottagers lie one place and three points above the relegation zone after securing only one win in their first even games in the Premier League. Furthermore, a defeat against Arsenal would equal their worst start to a season in 2005.
Slavisa Jokanovic’s side have the attacking nous, spearheaded by Aleksandar Mitrovic who already has five goals in the league. The problem area for the Cottagers is their defence, with the side making it an unwanted habit to concede goals in the league this season.
Jokanovic’s attack-first approach has reaped the rewards on one side of the pitch, but the defence is the side that is failing the team as a unit, something Arsenal would look to exploit.
Having conceded in their last 14 London Derbies, Fulham face the task of stopping an Arsenal side that has scored at least two or more goals in their previous nine games in all competitions. Arsenal are expected to be fully charged ahead of this crucial Fulham tie after Unai Emery did not play many of his essential stars during their midweek win over Qarabag in the Europa League.
Breaking into the top-four remains Arsenal’s long-term goal this season; although Unai Emery will be urging his side to secure yet another victory to keep their winning run going before they meet another big team in the league.
Team News & Tactics
Slavisa Jokanovic has some vital injury concerns in his squad before the Arsenal game. Defenders Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Joe Bryan are out of the game with shoulder and hamstring injuries they faced last weekend. Meanwhile Tom Cairney, who returned to the side last weekend after his injury lay off.
Against Arsenal, Cairney is to be fast-tracked into the starting lineup. Neeskens Kebano is another player who would sit out of this game due to an ankle injury.
Joining Tom Cairney will be defender Alfie Mawson who returned following a back injury. Another player who would be definitely missing the Arsenal clash is Calum Chambers. The defender, on loan from Arsenal, remains ineligible to play against his parent club with Premier League rules falling into effect.
Despite the many concerns, expect Jokanovic to name a strong enough side against the Gunners, one which has shined in the attack. Aleksandar Mitrovic, who already has five Premier League goals to his name this season will be the man leading the Cottagers from the front with the hopes of adding to his tally.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-4-1-1) – Bettinelli; Christie, Mawon, Ream, Le Marchand; Viett0, Cairney, Seri, Sessegnon; Schurrle; Mitrovic
Unai Emery could bring back the several stars he rested or those who remained in London for their Europa League clash in Azerbaijan. Among those are Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who is expected to be back from a reported illness, Aaron Ramsey who is awaiting the birth of his child and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, as all of these players did not travel during midweek.
Mesut Ozil, Hector Bellerin, Alexandre Lacazette, Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi are all expected to be back in the side to face Fulham. Lucas Torreira is likely to partner Xhaka in central midfield again as the duo are becoming the preferred midfield pair for Arsenal this season.
Another player who due to his impressive form in recent games has been primed for a start is Alex Iwobi, although where Emery might accommodate him remains a big question. Iwobi’s inclusion or not, Arsenal will field a solid lineup against Fulham, especially keeping their attackers in mind.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1) – Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Xhaka, Torreira; Iwobi, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette
- Fulham have only won three times against Arsenal in 26 meetings.
- Fulham have conceded in each of the last 14-London Derbies and have the lowest win rate (20.8%) among all other teams.
- Arsenal have the highest win rate (51.3%) in the division in London derbies.
- Arsenal, however, have only one win in their last eight away London derbies.
- There have been four red cards in the last four games between the sides at Craven Cottage.
1. Arsenal to win @ 1.65
2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score anytime @ 1.72
3. Over 2.5 Cards @ 1.57
1. Henrikh Mkhitaryan to score anytime @ 3.00
Player to Watch
After his breakthrough a couple of seasons ago under Arsene Wenger, Alex Iwobi was primed for big things for the club and its future. However, in the time since, the Nigerian has somewhat become stale as it appeared his development was stalled.
However, under new manager Unai Emery, Iwobi is back to his explosive self, creating chances and becoming a primary attacking source for his side when he is on the pitch.
Since the start of this season, Iwobi’s performances every game has been consistently rising to new levels. Although most of them have come from the bench or starts against the comparatively lower level opposition; a start against Fulham could be a good platform for Iwobi to prove he’s no fluke and deliver a strong performance which will let him push for a starting place every week for Arsenal.
Fulham 0-2 Arsenal
Fulham have a great attacking setup but lack in their defence. The Cottagers, so far this season have heavily relied on their side’s attack than defence, which has produced great moments at times, but due to conceding may goals, they sit in the position that they are in right now.
Arsenal too have been defensively inconsistent, although Emery after tweaking his side’s attack and midfield to good effect so far will now focus on the defence, which will concede fewer goals. The Fulham – Arsenal clash has come at the wrong time for the cottagers, and expect Arsenal to punish the hosts and take all three points back to the Emirates.