Having executed some lovely football, scoring three away goals whilst playing Fenerbahce off the park on Wednesday night and barring a complete collapse at The Emirates qualified for the Champions League, our attention turns to Craven Cottage and Fulham in the first London derby of our season.
Fulham had a better opening day than us, beating Sunderland 1-0 away from home in a tentative game even though they were completely outplayed by Di Canio’s men.
Fulham have also added numbers to their ranks this summer with three high profile signings – Maarten Steklelenburg, Adel Tarrabt and Darren Bent. The latter has a habit of scoring against us (I’m having flashbacks of that game at The Emirates) so I hope he isn’t a starter although I would be surprised if he doesn’t. Add the three new signings to the likes of Dimitar Berbatov, Mahamdou Diarra, John-Arne Risse, Hugo Rodallega and Bryan Ruiz, their squad isn’t too shabby.
As we all know, we haven’t signed anyone yet; the key word being yet. Anyone who is on Twitter will know that we have been seriously linked with the return of Mathieu Flamini. He isn’t the signing we are crying out for, but look at it like the loan signing of Yossi Benayoun, experienced, free and he will add another option to our bench presumably taking Emmanuel Frimpong’s position. While we are on the subject of Frimpong, does anyone actually believe he has what it takes to make it with us? I used to be excited about him, he was clearly passionate and could be a real nasty bastard in his tackles, something I think we need in midfield. He seems to me to be more interested in making his DENCH clothes, rapping on Lethal Bizzle’s tracks and becoming a minor celebrity instead of letting his feet do the talking for him. I’d rather have Flamini on the bench instead of Frimpong every day of the week and when put like that, the deal doesn’t seem so bad to me.
The last time we played Fulham at Craven Cottage, Per Mertesacker scored the only goal in a rather poor game however the last time we played Fulham in the second game of the season, Brede Hangeland scored the only goal of the game to secure a 1-0 win.
Team News –
Arsenal – Thomas Vermaelen (back), Abou Diaby (knee), Mikel Arteta (thigh) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) are continuing their rehabilitation. Laurent Koscielny is banned.
Fulham – Fernando Amorebieta and Maarten Stekelenburg will miss out on Saturday, although Alex Kacaniklic will return to the squad. Kieran Richardson is set to be out of action for 3-4 matches
Head to Head-
In the last six meetings between the two teams in the Premier League Arsenal have won just two, with Fulham winning one and the other three meetings being draws.
Premier League – 20th April 2013 – Fulham 0 – 1 Arsenal
Premier League – 10th Nov 2012 – Arsenal 3 – 3 Fulham
Premier League – 2nd Jan 2012 – Fulham 2 – 1 Arsenal
Premier League – 26th Nov 2011 – Arsenal 1 – 1 Fulham
Premier League – 22nd May 2011 – Fulham 2 – 2 Arsenal
Premier League – 4th Dec 2010 – Arsenal 2 – 1 Fulham
Darren Bent has scored six goals in his last eight Premier League games against Arsenal.
Arsenal have not lost their opening two matches of a Premier League season since 1992/93.
In 2012/13, Arsenal did not win in the league until their third game, after drawing the first two 0-0.
Fulham have never won their opening two matches of a Premier League season. The last time that they won their first two league games of a season was in 2000/01 in the second tier.
Following his goal against Aston Villa, Olivier Giroud has now scored 12 goals in the Premier League for Arsenal. However, just one of these has come away from home.
All but two of the last six league meetings between the two have included over 2.5 goals.
Bearing in mind Darren Bent’s record against us, backing him to score and Arsenal to win isn’t a bad bet. 16/5 with William Hill, or just to score at anytime is priced best with Bet Victor at 5/2.
Arsenal to win is best priced with Betfred at 23/20.