After a daunting start to their Premier League campaign, Arsenal look a little more settled under Unai Emery already. Flying up the table to fifth spot, they have won on the spin in the Premier League. With some of their new signings making an instant impression, as well as some old Arsene Wenger-era players returning to form, Arsenal look a good bet to do something impressive this season.
Their hosts this weekend, though, Fulham, are struggling quite badly. A solitary win from their first seven matches is a shocking return for a club that spent so much in the transfer window. With Fulham down in 17th, can they get anything from their game against Arsenal?
Craven Cottage has been a tough place to go in previous eras, but so far the Cottagers simply don’t like up to the top flight, despite some very interesting signings. Can they pull off a shock at home to the Gunners?
For Fulham fans, the fact they are conceding on average two goals per game across the Premier League so far – in fact, only once have they not conceded twice or more – is seriously worrying. With Arsenal scoring two per game on average in six of their seven Premier League games, too, it’s a bad mixture.
Throw in a squad that is missing left-back Joe Bryan, midfielder Neeskens Kebano as well as defenders Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Calum Chambers, and it’s easy to see why they look so rocked. Stars of their Championship season like Cyrus Christie and Tom Cairney are struggling in the Premier League.
New signings like Andre Schurrle and Alfie Mawson are doing alright, but not good enough for the money spent. Jean-Michael Seri is probably their only major summer move who appears to be capable of living up to his pre-season billing so far.
This leaves many of their new signings looking pretty out of form. Luciano Vietto has not done much so far, nor has the precocious teenager Ryan Sessegnon, who looks like he is struggling to make the step-up from the Championship to Premier League.
Expect Fulham to try and go with an attacking line-up though. Sessegnon will return to left-back, offering attacking overlapping runs with Schurrle in a bid to pin back the attacking Arsenal full-backs. We’ll also likely see Cryus Christie try to get back into form, as normal full-back Fosu-Mensah is out.
There’s not a huge deal that can be done for Fulham at present: they simply struggle to attack, and are weak at the back. Unless they can quickly find a solution to plug the gap between defence and midfield, Fulham will struggle here.
After a tough game against Qarabag ended 3-0 to the Gunners, Arsenal can return to their home city in a better frame of mind. However, they do have quite a growing injury list, with many of the players meaning squad depth is lower than ever. The likes of Petr Cech will miss out, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a doubt. Carl Jenkinson and Konstantinos Mavropanos are good players, but will miss out with injury – and have yet to play this season. Other squad players to miss out will be Ainsley Maitland-Niles, joining long-term absentee Laurent Koscielny.
‘Auba’ might miss out due to his injury that seen him sit out the Qarabag game. He might be fit in time, but it would not be a shock to see Alexandre Lacazette start up front instead. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is back in the Arsenal squad, having missed out in the game against Qarabag due to safety fears due to the ongoing Azerbaijan-Armenia situation.
Aaron Ramsey might miss out, as his wife is about to give birth. This means that he might need to be on standby for the birth of his child, which could slow down the Arsenal midfield in terms of options and numbers. The Wales star is in the middle of a contract wrangle with the club, too, and it remains to be seen if he will stick around at The Emirates.
We could see Bernd Leno start in goal, with the German showing some good glimpses of his true form in recent times. Expect to see a defensive pairing of Sokratis and Shkdrodan Mustafi, with Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka in front of them as a defensive shield.
For Arsenal, it’s about trying to balance squad depth for Europe with a first-team for games like this. Expect Alex Iwobi to start out wide, with Mkhitaryan on the other wing and Mesut Ozil sitting just off the forward.
Fulham suffered a pretty big beating in their last outing, as they got taken to the cleaners by a pretty impressive Everton side. Going down 3-0 is never a good look, and it’s just one of the few beatings that Fulham have endured so far. Their return to the top flight has been anything but good and so far they need to rely upon their decent home form to try get some points.
Unbeaten in three at the Cottage, they need to try and stop an Arsenal side on a very impressive eight-game winning streak. Arsenal are looking ripe for improvement under the excellent tactical movement of Emery so far, with the former Valencia, Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain man making significant waves over in North London.
Slavisa Jokanovic, though, is struggling big time in the Premier League. While Fulham could be somewhat porous at the back in the Championship, they had the firepower to match. While Aleksander Mitrovic has started well this year, it’s not enough.
Their main hope, then, is that Arsenal can open up enough to concede. With two clean sheets in their last fifteen away from home in the league, and a gruelling trip to play Azerbaijan’ Qarabag in midweek, it feels like the best bet for a Fulham result is going to come from fatigue.
As it stands, though, we simply cannot see a weak Fulham defence staying tight enough over 90-minutes to outscore Arsenal. 2-1 Arsenal feels likely; they do like to concede, but not as much as Fulham do. If you’re going to place a bet on this game. I recommend betting at Bet365 or 5dimes.