Fulham have a good record over Arsenal of late, taking four from six points available against them last season. However, it is not simply this mere statistic that will have fans of the Cottagers heading to North London believing that they may never have a better opportunity to secure victory away to their capital rivals.
Fulham’s form of late has been steady if not spectacular. Martin Jol’s men are unbeaten in four since their late defeat to Manchester City and currently lie a creditable eighth in the Premier League table with only a single position and goal-difference separating them from opponents Arsenal. However, the Cottagers will be aware that despite their good form, Fulham have only obtained one sneaked home victory in their unbeaten run and indeed have only one away win this season, at Wigan in September.
However, it is the form of opponents Arsenal that will leave Jol most optimistic of his side’s chances of success at the Emirates Stadium. Arsene Wenger’s men have seen their season come to almost a standstill with only one league win in their last three matches, two of which have been extremely poor performances in defeat at Norwich City and Manchester United.
Certainly, going forward the Gunners look rather staid and lacking in inspiration, particularly if Theo Walcott is not on the pitch at the moment, a possibility that may re-appear against the Cottagers. Fulham though have struggled defensively of late with two or more goals conceded in six of their 10 Premier League outings so far this season. However, it would certainly seem a stretch to suggest that experienced defensive duo of Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes, despite their leaky record, will be quaking in their boots at the possibility of facing Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski on current form.
Additionally, at the back the Gunners as a whole and captain Thomas Vermaelen in particular have looked extremely shaky to say the least. Given the sparkling form of Fulham’s attackers in recent matches, especially Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz, the visitors could be in for a profitable afternoon at the Emirates, a stadium where they have so far failed to win since its opening in 2007.
Berbatov grabs the headlines and quite rightly given the sheer brilliance of his play with the ball at his feet, and his movement and appreciation of space could cause the Gunners’ backline all sorts of problems. Meanwhile Ruiz has struck spectacularly in two consecutive matches and with his potent set-piece delivery could test Arsenal’s vulnerability in the air.
It has certainly been a long time since Fulham fans travelled to face Arsenal in something approaching expectation rather than hope but this Saturday, it will be a sign of just how well things are progressing under Jol, as well as a sign of Arsenal’s increased failings under Wenger.
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