Here we are again, one week after our disappointing season opener. Tomorrow Arsenal head off to Fulham, in a game that we really should, and have to, win. A victory tomorrow will put us back on track and help shake the “team in crisis” tag the media has been quick to label us with.
This fixture last year:
Last year, away to Fulham, Arsenal scraped out a 1-0 win. Sidwell got an early red card that would later be followed by a late Giroud red card. However, it was Mertesacker who scored the winner on the day: Kos headed the ball across goal from a set piece and Mertesacker ‘tapped it in’ with his head from close range.
Ironically, Mertesacker is our only recognized centre back eligible to play tomorrow. Let’s hope he can repeat last season’s feat and score a winner at Craven Cottage.
Here is my expected line up for tomorrow:
I think Wenger will replace Giroud with Podolski. Perhaps he’s been resting him specifically for this game, as Giroud didn’t have a great game last time we visited the Cottage. Maybe Wenger thinks that Podolski’s speed will help the team break down Fulham’s defense easier than Giroud’s style of play. After all, Riise, Hangeland, Senderos, and Amorebieta are all very slow defenders and the pace and intelligence of Walcott, Santi, Rosicky, and Podolski should be able to open them up.
As for the defensive midfield pairing, we don’t have much choice. Aaron and Jack will have to do, but I honestly don’t dislike this pairing as much as others do. The Fenerbahce game showed us that this pairing can work defensively as long as Aaron and Jack communicate properly, which it appears they are learning to do.
In the defense, I expect Wenger to give Monreal the start ahead of Gibbs because he should be nearly fully fit now, and Santi works better on the left with Monreal than with Gibbs. I also expect Sagna to play LCB and Mertesacker RCB, because Sagna is far more comfortable with his left foot than Mertesacker is.
Walcott vs Riise: Walcott will either have an easy time or a long day down the right flank. Theo needs to be prepared to use his pace to run past Riise and receive the ball over the top. Theo will easily outpace him, but trying to split the defense on the ground may be difficult. Theo should prepare to do a lot of running in behind the defenders. If he does this, he should find himself with a load of scoring or assisting opportunities.
Mertesacker vs Berbatov: Berbatov is a lethal striker on his day and he will make us pay if we don’t keep a close eye on him. Mertesacker will have to do what he does best and position himself well to stop Berbatov from getting open shots at goal. Neither players involved in this battle are very quick, but both are intelligent players and this battle will be more of a chess game, with positioning being key.
Podolski vs Wenger: Podolski has been a noticeable absentee from both of our games so far this season. He was featured heavily in Arsenal’s training pictures today and I expect Wenger to give him his chance up top again. Poldi needs to take this game with both hands and make it his. He can’t be passive and wait for opportunities to arrive; he needs to step up and try to make opportunities for himself and others around him. If Wenger really is considering letting him leave (whether it be on loan or permanent), this may be Poldi’s last chance to prove he has a spot in this squad and I hope he does. That being said, if Poldi doesn’t start tomorrow’s match I fear the worst. The worst would be him being kept safe from becomming injured ahead of a possible move away from the club.
Casualties of War:
Arsenal: Arteta, Diaby, and Ox will all miss out on this game due to their long term injuries. Vermaelen is back running, but is still a few weeks away from match fitness. Ryo is also likely to miss out, but isn’t far away from being match fit. Nacho is back to match fitness and will be in the squad this week.
Fulham: Richardson, Amorebieta, and Stekelenburg will all miss our match against Fulham. We need to capitalize on Stekelenburg’s injury especially as Fulham is likely to have their second string goalkeeper in net.
I’m hoping for a high scoring game with the Gunners winning 3 or 4 to nil and Jack, Podolski, and Santi opening up their scoring accounts for the season. It will likely be an open game that will be won or lost based on how our team responds to last weekend’s loss. The team needs to be physical (but not overly physical) and not be pushed around. They need to mature and not let Fulham’s physicality run the game like Villa’s did. I predict a tense game with the possibility of a sending off just like last year! Especially if we can frustrate Fulham and get a three or four goal lead.
Here’s a link of last season’s encounter between Fulham and Arsenal at the Cottage:
- What’s your preferred line up?
- Will Podolski win his spot back?
- What are your predictions?
COYG! Let’s set Craven Cottage ablaze!
Please note: This is my first match preview and I’d love suggestions for how to improve for next time! 😉
Thanks for reading. 😀
Written by: Dylan.