ARSENAL VERSUS FULHAM: MATCH FACTS, PREVIEW AND KEY BATTLES

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Arsenal welcome London neighbors to the Emirates, with three points in mind. In a bid to keep their stronghold on the top of the table, this game should be a must win. The gooners have been in decent form and are on a winning streak after picking impressive wins over West Ham, Newcastle, Cardiff and Aston Villa. They would be definite favorites to win against a Fulham side with a lot of talent but little substance.

WHAT HAPPENED TO FULHAM

Last season, Fulham had a decent mid table finish and many people thought they could kick off from there this season, but the main problem for them has been instability especially at the top hierarchy of the club. First they changed owners, and then when Martin Jol was having bad results, they brought in Rene Muluesteen as an assistant or co-coach; after a while, the Dutch man was sacked and replaced by the former Manchester United coach; Alan Curbishley was brought in as a technical director, then former Chelsea assistant coach, Ray Walkins was drafted in as assistant coach. You have to wonder, who is actually in charge of the team. Despite all these big personalities, fortunes have not changed; too many cooks spoil the soup.

KEY BATTELES

BREDE HANGELAND VERSUS GIROUD.

The big defender has been out injured but came back in the win over Norwich in the FA Cup and is a sure bet to start at the Emirates. His battle with Giroud would be quite interesting especially the aerial battle. Giroud is one the few players in the league to have an impressive aerial challenge success (3.5 per game, before the Villa game). The Arsenal team would surely look to use Giroud’s height to great effect, but the Frenchman would find an obstacle in Hangeland. However, if Giroud it difficult in the air, he could exploit the Fulham’s deficiency on the ground. In all, this could be a key area in the game.

MIDFIELD

In the Boss’ press conference, he was full of praise for his midfield and even described them as ‘egalitarian’, which is very true, there is so much class in the side, and that the Boss can use any combination that he desires and still gets the results he desires. When you think that Ramsey has been injured for a while and Arteta missed the game in Villa Park and the gooners still were efficient, it gives every gooner a good feeling. However, against Fulham, they would have to be as good too; the West Londoners play with a two man fulcrum most likely to be Sidwell and Parker. The two Englishmen might not the most creative, but they have impressive work rates and pop in sometimes with a goal or two. Wilshere, Flamini and co have to be wary of these two (and Karagounis if he is selected).

BERBATOV AND MERTESACKER

The Big Friendly German has been in great form this season, has done a lot of work on his game and has led the team very well. Arsene was full of praise for the German and described him as a ‘leader’, he has truly done very well this season and his partnership with Koscienly is becoming legendary. In their partnership, most times, Koscielny does the tackling and running around while Mertesacker uses his football intelligence to mop up the rest, it has worked so far. However, in this game, I think the main the main tackler would be the BFG. Berbatov is not the fastest player but he is surely the most composed player on the ball you would ever see, Koscielny might be forced to make unnecessary tackles but with Per, the Bulgarian should be well taken care of. The battle between these two would be fascinating.

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MATCH FACTS

Arsenal are undefeated in 28 of their last 31 matches in the Premier League.

 

 

There have been under 2.5 goals scored in Arsenal’s last 6 home games in the Premier League.

 

 

There have been over 2.5 goals scored in Fulham’s last 6 games in the Premier League.

 

 

Arsenal are undefeated in their last 12 home matches against Fulham in all competitions.

 

 

Arsenal have kept a clean sheet in 5 of their last 6 home matches in the Premier League.

 

 

Fulham have lost 5 of their last 6 away matches in the Premier League.

 

 

Fulham have conceded at least 2 goals in 5 of their last 6 away matches in the Premier League.

 

 

Arsenal have never lost a home game to Fulham in all competitions and a win here would see them keep their place at the top of the Premier League.

 

Fulham will be buoyed by their recent trips to the Emirates, drawing on their previous 2 trips to Arsenal.

 

The Cottagers have won only 3 games on the road this season and it’s expected that Arsenal will come away with all 3 points.

This game is going to be quite interesting; Arsenal has drawn with Fulham in the last two encounters in the Emirates with the most recent coming in the pulsating 3-3 draw when Arteta missed a last second penalty. Arsenal has the advantage in week with their game coming before the Chelsea and Manchester United game unlike last week when we didn’t play till Monday and clearly felt the pressure in the last 10 minutes at Villa Park.

This is a home game for Arsenal, the Emirates is slowly becoming a fortress again, the team is in great form, Fulham have hardly kept a clean sheet, this looks like 3 points already. Let’s make some part of West London sad even though I would wish the entire part. #COYG

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