Arsenal will try to make it three successive wins this weekend, as they host Fulham at the Emirates Stadium. They have been talked up as the most likely challengers to Manchester City. If they are to topple the champions, they need to drop as few points as possible, as Pep Guardiola’s side are relentless. They learned that the hard way last season. Fulham had a good first season in the Premier League, but their last two performances have been worrying. Marco Silva’s men need to be much better this weekend to have any chance.
The summer spending that Arsenal have done will give them a huge chance of competing for the league title. Mikel Arteta has added quality to the first team and ensured that there is enough depth to deal with the competitions that the club are in. The decision to sign David Raya was met with some confusion, but it adds quality competition for Aaron Ramsdale. If the goalkeeper’s level drops, there is another quality option to come in. It is a move that suggests the club don’t want to leave anything to chance.
Fulham have had a turbulent summer that has been filled with speculation linking several key figures to Saudi Arabia. It looks like Marco Silva and Willian will both stay at the club, which is a boost. However, last season’s top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic has left the club to move to Al Hilal. That saga filled the summer and it has left the Cottagers with a lack of striking options. Raul Jimenez hasn’t been prolific for a few years and the supporters will be expecting investment into the front line. Without a proven option, they may be set for a drop off this season.
Bukayo Saka will break the record for successive Premier League appearances for Arsenal if he plays this weekend with 83.
Fulham have conceded two or more goals in four of their last six Premier League fixtures.
It feels like Arsenal are only warming up for the new season and this home match could offer a good opportunity for their attack to explode. They have only managed to score three goals across their first two fixtures. Although the most important thing is that they have won the matches, there is a feeling that there is a lot more to come from the Gunners. That could come against Fulham, who have looked far from secure as a defensive force this season so far. Saka is the player that Arsenal look towards in attack, as he is the most consistent producer of goals and assists. He scored in their opening match of the season and he will look at this weekend as a great opportunity to add to his tally. Bryan Mbuemo and Yoane Wissa ran Fulham ragged last weekend. Saka will look at that match and relish his own chances this weekend.
It is perhaps a boring choice, but Bernd Leno will be the key player this weekend for Fulham. The Cottagers will be under pressure and facing a lot of shots. They will need their German goalkeeper to be at his best, as he has been for the last 12 months. This fixture is a spiky one for him, as he previously played for Arsenal before being replaced by Mikel Arteta. This could give him extra motivation to perform this weekend. He will sympathise with Aaron Ramsdale’s position after the signing of Raya, as it is very similar to the way Ramsdale replaced him at Arsenal. On the opening day, Leno delivered a man-of-the-match performance as he made nine saves to help Fulham keep a clean sheet. He will need a similar level of display on Saturday.
Takehiro Tomiyasu is suspended, which means that Gabriel should come back into the starting eleven. Gabriel Jesus is back in full training, but this weekend will likely come too soon. Jurrien Timber remains on the sidelines.
Joao Palhinha could be back in the starting eleven. Tim Ream will be suspended for the visitors after picking up two yellow cards against Brentford. Willian is facing a late fitness test ahead of the trip to his old stomping ground.
Fulham need Palhinha back desperately, as they look like a relegation contender without him. That said, they are still short of quality to compete against the very best teams, especially away from home. There hasn’t been any major movement made to replace Mitrovic and that will be concerning for supporters. This should be an easy home win.
Arsenal 3-0 Fulham