After Arsenals disastrous start to the new campaign the Gunners and Arsene Wenger will be desperate to get their first League win under their belt. The North London team will be up against Martin Jol’s Fulham team that managed to win away at the Stadium of Light. Fulham only managed to win 4 away games in last year’s campaign, so for them it’s a great start to the new year.
Arsenals previous fixture against Aston Villa saw them take the lead early on through a quick counter attack finished off by Giroud. Arsenal fans will definitely be delighted with their striker getting an early goal in the premier league. However, they will also hope to see a more solid performance defensively from their team combined with an attacking flair that will create more goal scoring opportunities. After the bright start shown on Saturday, they seemed unable to continue in such fashion and put Villa to the sword.
Fulham managed to squeeze out a win at the stadium of light after only managing 5 shots on goal and scoring with their 1 on target. Nevertheless Jol’s team managed to keep a clean sheet and make a solid start to their campaign.
I don’t expect Fulham to dominate possession even though they will be the home side, therefore Fulham’s key player will most likely be Berbatov. Fulhams top scorer last season, but not only that, he has the class and awareness to create opportunities for others and relieve pressure on the Fulham defence by holding the ball up and bringing others into play. Finally, for Fulham although Darren Bent doesn’t do much off the ball or bring others in to play he scores goals and his record against Arsenal is excellent. If Bent is fit enough to make an appearance it won’t be a surprise to see him get on the score sheet.
Santi Cazorla, an intelligent midfielder who rarely loses possession and sets the tempo will be crucial for Arsenal against Fulham. The pitch at Craven Cottage is one of the smallest in the league and if Fulham defend deep then it may take the intelligence and influence of Santi Cazorla to break Fulham down. Cazorla created 96 chances last season, the third most in the whole premier league. He also was Arsenal’s top assistor last season with 9 assists, highlighting how influential he is for the north London side.
Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be out for up to 3 months, news he confirmed on his personal twitter account. Their centre back Laurent Koscielny is also suspended for the derby after his controversial sending off from the previous weekend against Aston Villa. Arsenal fans could see a surprise start at centre back from Bacary Sagna, where he was used in some of Arsenals pre-season matches. Expect Wilshire to continue operating in the centre of midfield.
Darrent Bent will be hoping that he can make his debut this weekend against Fulham, however after Berbatov being Fulhams top goal scorer last season and Kasami scoring on his debut against Sunderland on the weekend, Bent may find it hard to get the opportunity to start. Keiron Richardson will be out this week after his injury from the game against Sunderland which saw him replaced by Briggs, who is expected to keep his place for the game against Arsenal. Abel Taarabt, who made his move from relegated Queen Park Rangers will most likely keep his starting place after a steady start with his new club.
New signing Darren Bent has managed to score 7 goals in his last 9 games against Arsenal and with the striker hoping to have a role in the game. An interesting bet could be over 2.5 goals scored in 90 mins at 1.8. After Arsenals 3-0 win over European opponent Fenerbahce, they will be full of confidence in front of goal combined with the fact that Fulham only managed 8 clean sheets over the whole of last season expect Arsenal to score.
I fully expect Fulham to be another tough test for Arsenal and for the game to quite tight. However, I expect Arsenal to react in a positive manner and get their first win of the season. With the introductions of new signing Darren Bent and Arsenals defensive woes I expect Fulham to score. Result, 1-2. Last season’s game at the Cottage finished 0-1 to Arsenal and the 2011/12 season result ending 2-1 to Fulham. It suggests a tight game between the London clubs.
Arsenal are favourites to win the game with odds at 2.1. Considering their previous result against Aston Villa one would expect Arsene Wenger to expect a better performance from his team. As I believe that both teams will score, a good bet could be over 2.5 goals scored at 1.8. Although this isn’t the highest odds it could be quite a safe bet and one for the accumulator.