Although Arsenal will still have their opening day defeat to Aston Villa fresh in their minds, their convincing win over Fenerbahce in midweek was the best possible way they could have bounced back ahead of this weekends clash against Fulham. The cottagers host their first home fixture of this season on the back of a 1-0 victory over Sunderland and have plenty of talent in their ranks to give Arsenal trouble, particularly if we aren’t on top of our game.
Looking at injuries, the only new absentee is Frenchman Laurent Koscielny, who suffered a nasty gash against Fenerbahce. In any case, the aggressive center back was destined to sit on the sidelines after receiving two dubious yellow cards last weekend, but fans will be sweating on his fitness ahead of the return-leg against Fenerbahce in midweek.
His absence forces Arsene to replicate the re-shuffle of the back-line in Turkey, with Sagna slotting in alongside Mertesacker in the center of defence and Jenkinson almost certain to get a starting spot on the right. In terms of other potential re-shuffles, there is also some exepctation that Rosicky will be rotated after playing three games in quick succession, making way for Cazorla to take up the reigns in behind the striker.
In the past, clashes between these two sides has largely been an even duel with Arsenal only coming out victorious once in their last five meetings, while on the other side of the coin Fulham have also enjoyed success once. The other three meetings have resulted in a share of the spoils. Expect this one to be another close affair, particularly with the Cottagers strengthening their squad with the additions of Daren Bent and Scott Parker, who we could see debut this weekend.
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In terms of other threats, the big one we all know about is Dimitar Berbatov. The talented forward will be looking to test the enigmatic Szczesny who looked extremely suspect last weekend. New boy Darren Bent will also be eager to impress his new employers. The boys at the back will definitely have to be on their guard and it will be interesting to see how Sagna will cope in his relatively new role at the back.
While I expect this clash to be a close one, I am edging towards a narrow win for the Gunners. They go into this clash high on confidence from their midweek victory and will be very eager to get their league campaign back on track. Expect Ramsey to replicate his heroics and drive the Arsenal mid-field with his tireless work-rate. COYG!
Jenkinson Sagna Mertesacker (c) Gibbs
Fulham 1 Arsenal 2