Fulham host Arsenal on Sunday, in what will be the latest test of the visitors’ title credentials. The Cottagers are well placed to finish in the top half. It has been a great season for them and they will put an end to their yo-yoing between the top two flights. This won’t be an easy game for Mikel Arteta’s side. The last few weeks have shown an impressive mentality from the Gunners, but they have more tests to pass before they can clinch the title. A lot more will be learned this weekend.
Marco Silva has done an excellent job at Craven Cottage. For a long time, the club have bounced between the top two divisions, despite the ownership showing ambition when they have been in the top flight. It is difficult to establish a team in the Premier League now, as Fulham have learned the hard way. That was until this season. Silva has made it look easy and there will be hope that they can build on the recent success. The club will want to become a mainstay in the Premier League.
Arsenal have surprised a lot of people this season and they remain a real title contender in March. For many, they are the favourites and results like the one against Bournemouth have made some believe it is written in the stars. It was an impressive display of mentatility and underlined the progress they have made under Arteta. Although, the manager will be hoping that they don’t get into similar situations over the rest of the season.
Fulham have kept four clean sheets in their last seven matches across all competitions.
Arsenal have conceded four goals in their last two matches in all competitions. There will be some concern about some of the goals they are conceding.
It has been a difficult few weeks for Aleksandar Mitrovic, as his goal-scoring has slowed down and he has struggled with an injury. It is hoped that he can get back to his best for the run-in with Fulham still in with a chance for European football and FA Cup glory. Either would be considered an excellent achievement for the Cottagers in their first season back in the top-flight. After years of struggling in the Premier League, both Fulham and Mitrovic have proven that they can compete at this level over the last few months. He remains the biggest goal threat in the Fulham team and he has the physicality to cause the Arsenal defence a lot of problems. They have looked more uncomfortable from set pieces over the last week. With Willian’s delivery and Mitrovic attacking in the middle, this is an area where the home side can carry a big threat. The Serbian international has 11 goals in the Premier League this season. It is already a great return, but it is hoped that this will be added to in the coming weeks.
This season has been another huge step forward for Bukayo Saka, as he is now one of the best and most consistent players in the Premier League. It is sometimes forgotten that he is still in the early part of his career and he still has a lot of room left for development. That is the case for many of the players in the Arsenal squad. Supporters will hope that their team will continue to improve and consistently challenge for major honours at home and abroad. Saka has contributed ten goals and nine assists in the Premier League. It is a remarkable return with lots of matches still left to play. He will easily pass the ten mark for both goals and assists. This weekend, he will pose Fulham a lot of problems, due to that dual threat. He can create chances and get into goal-scoring positions himself. Saka is easily the most dangerous player in the Arsenal side.
Cedric Soares won’t be available to face his parent club. Joao Palhinha is suspended and that is a huge miss for the home side. Tom Cairney is a doubt for this weekend.
Gabriel Jesus is closing in on a return, but he won’t be rushed back. Eddie Nketiah is a doubt with an ankle injury. Leandro Trossard and Martin Odegaard are doubts after missing out in the week.
It is going to be a difficult game for Fulham without Palhinha. He is their ball winner in the middle of the park and they don’t have a replacement with the same quality. Against Brentford, they conceded three times and they were broken open with will. It was a worrying performance and emphasised how important their suspended Portuguese midfielder is. Arsenal should have enough to win this weekend, with more comfort than last weekend. They may concede though.
Fulham 1-3 Arsenal