Arsenal will be aiming to carry forward their winning momentum when they welcome London rivals Fulham to the Emirates Stadium this weekend.
Arsenal will be looking to make it three wins on the bounce when they face off against relegation battlers Fulham in Matchweek 32 of the 2020/21 Premier League at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
After a run of poor results, Arsenal have managed to bounce back in style in the last two games, first beating Sheffield United 3-0 in the Premier League before trouncing Slavia Prague 4-0 in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday to book a place in the semi-finals of the competition. And Mikel Arteta will be hoping for more of the same from his team as they look to cut down the seven-point gap to Liverpool in sixth place.
Fulham, meanwhile, are still trying to rally, even though relegation is starting to loom large. The Cottagers have lost their last four games in a row, most recently getting beaten 1-0 by Wolves, which has left them seven points shy of Burnley in 17th place, who also happen to have a game in hand. A win here is very much the need of the hour for Scott Parker & co. if they want to keep their slim survival hopes alive.
The reverse fixture, played on the opening day of the 2020/21 Premier League season, saw Arsenal cruise to a 3-0 win with goals coming from Alexandre Lacazette, Gabriel Magalhaes and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Ahead of their latest meeting at the Emirates, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
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Every word from @m8arteta 👇
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) April 17, 2021
Heading into the game, Arsenal are likely to be without captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang once again as he is recovering from malaria. Martin Odegaard has missed the last two games due to injury and will likely be touch and go for Sunday’s clash. David Luiz and Kieran Tierney are definite absentees for the Gunners.
Having found a solid balance in his team in the last couple of games, Arteta is unlikely to make many tweaks when Fulham come visiting. So, we can expect minimal changes to the team that started in midweek despite the risk of over-exertion. Bernd Leno will man the goal for the home team with Rob Holding and Pablo Mari shielding him as the two centre-backs.
Calum Chambers has only recently recovered from an injury and having started both the last games, could be given a breather on Sunday with Hector Bellerin starting at right-back. Granit Xhaka has been a revelation in the last two games, playing as a makeshift left-back. His ability on the ball allows Arsenal to build up effectively from the back, while him tucking in alongside the two centre-backs also offers a more solid base.
Thomas Partey has been in top form in the last couple of games, showing his ability to man the midfield area while also kickstarting attacks with his distribution. More of the same will be expected from him while Dani Ceballos will slot in as the other central midfielder, looking to provide support at both ends of the pitch.
Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette were all brilliant in the win against Slavia Prague and pick themselves in attack. There could be one change made though, with Gabriel Martinelli coming in to replace Nicolas Pepe on the left flank.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, Holding, Mari, Xhaka; Partey, Ceballos; Saka, Smith Rowe, Martinelli; Lacazette
Fulham will be without defender Terence Kongolo who has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to a knee injury. In addition, club captain Tom Cairney also misses out although he has recently started outdoor training. Ademola Lookman could be back, though, after missing the last game due to a hamstring issue.
Having set his team up in a three-man defensive formation against Wolves last time out, Scott Parker will revert to the 4-2-3-1 shape largely mirroring his opponents at the Emirates.
Your fitness update! 🤕
— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) April 16, 2021
Alphonse Areola will be the man guarding the Cottagers’ goal against the Arsenal attackers and will need all support he can get from Tosin Adarabioyo and Joachim Andersen, who is a transfer target for Manchester United and Tottenham. Kenny Tete and Antonee Robinson ought to be the two full-backs who will have their task cut out against the in-form Arsenal wingers.
Harrison Reed and Mario Lemina will occupy the midfield pivot positions and look to provide an added layer of protection to the backline by generally dropping deep and playing behind the ball. On-loan Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek should get the nod as the No. 10 from where he will look to drive at the Arsenal backline when Fulham break on the counter.
Bobby Reid, and the fit-again Lookman should slot in out wide and provide a threat with their burst of pace. Aleksandar Mitrovic should be the lone centre-forward for Fulham, with January signing Josh Maja an option from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Areola; Tete, Andersen, Adarabioyo, Robinson; Reed, Lemina; Reid, Loftus-Cheek, Lookman; Mitrovic
- Arsenal to win @ 1.75
- Gabriel Martinelli to score anytime @ 2.75
- Arsenal have lost just one of their last 42 Premier League games against teams in the relegation zone (W39 D2).
- Fulham have lost each of their last six Premier League meetings against Arsenal, conceding 18 goals while scoring just three during this run.
- Arsenal have tasted defeat in eight home games in all competitions this season, most in a single campaign since 1929/30 (9).
- Fulham have lost each of their last four Premier League encounters, failing to score in two of those fixtures.
- Arsenal strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette have found the back of the net in all three of their three Premier League games against Fulham, scoring four goals apiece.
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20 G/A and counting for Alex Lacazette this season. pic.twitter.com/cseHqxywzF
— Patrick Timmons (@PatrickTimmons1) April 15, 2021
The Frenchman had come under criticism for his profligacy in the UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg against Slavia Prague. But, Lacazette has managed to turn things around in brilliant fashion since then, putting in two stunning performances against Sheffield United as well as Slavia, scoring a brace in each of the games.
There have been talks of a potential summer exit for the France international but Mikel Arteta cannot ignore the fact that Lacazette is Arsenal’s top scorer this term in the Premier League with 13 goals to his name, just one shy of his best return in 2017/18. He will be hoping to eclipse that tally and continue his good scoring form when Fulham come visiting on Sunday.
Arsenal 2-0 Fulham
Having put up a steely resistance for some time, Fulham seem to be crumbling now. The Cottagers have lost four in a row now, conceding goals late in the game against both Aston Villa and Wolves, that have hurt them badly. And, against an Arsenal side that seems to have found its confidence again, they are unlikely to stand a chance.
Bukayo Saka, Alexandre Lacazette and Emile Smith Rowe looked on song against Slavia Prague last time out. Expect them to carry Arsenal to another important victory on Sunday afternoon at the Emirates.