Preview: Fulham vs. Arsenal, Barclays Premier League

Blog by: GB Vish

Fulham v Arsenal - Premier League 

Kick-off: 1245 BST, 1715 IST

Referee: Howard Webb

Location: Craven Cottage, London, England, United Kingdom

After putting one foot in the Champions League proper, Arsenal will be hoping to replicate their form at domestic level after a horrible 3-1 humiliation at home to Aston Villa.

They will face a dangerous Fulham team who have shown grit in their first game away at Sunderland and will be hoping to build on that as Martin Jol’s men challenge for a place in Europe.

Form

Fulham

Previous five fixtures: WLDLD

17 August 2013: 1-0 vs. Sunderland (A), Barclays Premier League

10 August 2013: 1-2 vs. Parma (H), Preseason friendly

05 August 2013: 1-1 vs. Real Betis (H), Preseason friendly

28 July 2013: 0-1 vs. Werder Bremen (A), Preseason friendly

20 July 2013: 2-2 vs. Deportivo Saprissa (A), Preseason friendly

Although the Cottagers have only won one of their last five games, one cannot invest too much faith in the result at the end of a pre-season friendly. The one game you can judge them by is the plucky 1-0 win they earned the hard way at the Stadium of Light.

Pajtim Kasami scored the only goal from a corner in that game after slack marking from the Black Cats allowed him to power home a header in the 52nd minute.

Martin Jol will be hoping his team showcase the same result Fulham did the last time Arsenal played their second league fixture away in West London. A Brede Hangeland goal separated the two teams on that day.

The last time the Gunners went to Fulham, they won 1-0 courtesy a header from another towering centre-back. Per Mertesacker scored the only goal of the game at the stroke of half time to give Arsene Wenger’s men – who had Olivier Giroud sent off – a very vital win.

Arsenal

Previous five fixtures: WLWLD

21 August 2013: 3-0 vs. Fenerbahce (A), UEFA Champions League

17 August 2013: 1-3 vs. Aston Villa (H), Barclays Premier League

10 August 2013: 3-1 vs. Manchester City (N), Carlsberg International Football Tournament

04 August 2013: 1-2 vs. Galatasaray AS (H), Emirates Cup

03 August 2013: 2-2 vs. Napoli SSC (H), Emirates Cup

As Arsene Wenger and his team found out in the space of 90 minutes at home last Saturday, all the bonhomie generated during preseason can be dissipated with a come-down-to-earth defeat at the hands of rather un-fancied opposition.

Aston Villa came away with a 3-1 humbling of the hosts on opening day but the Gunners showed great fortitude away in Istanbul to come away with an excellent 3-0 win against Fenerbahce, going some way in silencing their doubters.

On Wednesday night, Kieran Gibbs, Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey scored the goals that went some way in securing their team’s progress to the next round of the Champions League.

Fulham will be similarly tricky and have shown a habit of not bowing to Arsenal in the past. When the Cottagers visited the Emirates last season, they held the hosts to a 3-3 draw to walk away with a share of the spoils despite Arsenal – as they normally do – bossing the majority of possession.

Wenger will be hoping his team can go one step further than they did in the Turkish capital and will look for Arsenal’s first win of the league.

Team News:

Fulham:

Maarten Stekelenburg is out with a shoulder injury that he sustained at the Stadium of Light and David Stockdale is expected to deputise for him after coming on against Sunderland.

Kieran Richardson is also out with a hamstring injury and new arrival Fernando Amorebieta is also out with a knock, but the hosts could have Alex Kacaniklic back from a hamstring injury.

New loan arrivals Adel Taarabt and Darren Bent are both available.

Squad (from): Neil Etheridge, David Stockdale, Matthew Briggs, Brede Hangeland, Stephen Hughes,  Sascha Riether, John Arne Riise, Philippe Senderos, Derek Boateng, Ashkan Dejagah, Damien Duff,  Fabian Frei, Scott Parker, Alex Kacaniklic, Giorgios Karagounis, Pajtim Kasami, Steve Sidwell, Adel Taarabt, Darren Bent, Dimitar Berbatov, Hugo Rodallega, Bryan Ruiz, Marco Trotta

Probable Starting XI: Stockdale, Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Sidwell, Taarabt, Dejagah, Ruiz, Duff, Berbatov

Arsenal

Although Laurent Koscielny has recovered from his head gash sustained in Istanbul, he is suspended for this game and Bacary Sagna will start at centre-back.

Club captain Thomas Vermaelen is back in training but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be out for six weeks. Nacho Monreal is back in contention for a starting berth and Ryo Miyaichi is fit once again.

Squad (from): Wojciech Szczesny, Per Mertesacker, Bacary Sagna, Tomas Rosicky, Lukas Podolski, Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Nacho Monreal, Santi Cazorla, Lukasz Fabianski, Yaya Sanogo, Carl Jenkinson, Emmanuel Frimpong, Kieran Gibbs, Ryo Miyaichi, Damian Martinez

Probable Starting XI: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Sagna, Gibbs, Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Podolski, Walcott, Giroud

Prediction

In no way is this an easy game for either side. Fulham have always been difficult opponents for Arsenal, and the Gunners will want to do well. Fulham will test them throughout the game.

Fulham 1-2 Arsenal

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