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Arsenal v Fulham - Match Preview

last updated Friday 31st January 2003, 1:31 PM
Fulham Manager Jean Tigana

Plenty of frustration for Fulham at the moment. A bright start at Maine Road through Steed Malbranque was a false dawn, with Kevin Keegan's men answering with four goals of their own.

Ironically, 4-1 was the scoreline when Arsenal entertained Fulham last season in the Premiership and a similar result wouldn't be too big a shock given current form. One win and four defeats in their last seven matches is essentially relegation form for Jean Tigana's men, with Facundo Sava, Sean Davis and Malbranque the only players finding the net in an otherwise barren spell for the side.

Indeed, Fulham's tally of three goals in their last seven games - from December 15th onwards - is the lowest of any Premiership team in that period, with just 3.5% of their 85 goal efforts hitting the back of the net.

A good example of a talented midfielder is Fulham's Sean Davis, who has been linked with an England call-up such is his current form, though he played down that talk and insisted that he is concentrating on doing his best for Fulham.

"It's nice to get praise in the papers and to know Eriksson comes to watch, but I don't know the order of players or what's going on," he declared. "All I can account for is myself, and I'm playing quite well at the moment with the bonus being that I've scored a few goals.

"So goals do bring headlines, although I've played better in other games and missed sitters, hitting the bar or the post from five yards. My aim this season is to get eight or nine goals, so hopefully I can get another five or six and get up to that target."

Another goal on Saturday would certainly help the young midfielder, and his team, who could be in danger of getting dragged into the relegation scrap if they aren't careful.
Source: planetfootball/4thegame
Highbury -
Premiership 01 Feb 03
Arsenal Fulham Div
Games Played 25 24 25
Goals 54 25 31
Ave Goals Per Game 2.16 1.04 1.24
Shots (excluding blocked shots) 315 267 271
Ave Shots Per Game 13 11 11
Ave Shots on Target Per Game 7 5 5
% Shots On Target 53% 43% 43%
% Goals To Shots 16% 9% 11%
Short Passes 8307 6652 6297
Long Passes 3324 2982 2944
Total Passes 11631 9634 9241
Ave Passes Per Game 465 401 370
% Overall Passes Completed 79% 72% 72%
Ave passes completed
per game
368 289 266
Total Crosses 571 523 567
Ave Crosses Per Game 23 22 23
Crosses Completed 24% 27% 25%
Ave cross completion
per game
5 6 6
Goals Conceded 27 31 31
Ave Goals Conceded Per Game 1.08 1.29 1.24
Tackles 795 785 685
Ave Tackles Per Game 32 33 27
Tackles Won % 73% 73% 72%
Ave tackles completed
per game
23 24 20
Blocks, Clearances & Interceptions 1082 991 1105
Ave Blocks, etc., Per Game 43 41 44
Fouls 345 345 339
Ave Fouls Per Game 14 14 14
Yellow Cards 36 39 40
Fouls per yellow 10 9 9
Red Cards 3 5 2
stats from opta
Latest League Table
Latest Form Table
Latest Squad Stats
Latest disciplinary Stats
Cipher's stats extract shows that the significant difference between Fulham and Arsenal, Goals. The North Londoners have scored more than twice the number of goals of The Cottagers, they have created more goal chances and are more accurate in front of goal. An obvious problem for Jean Tigana.

In the middle of the park Arsenal also win out as their passing rate is 20% higher than the Fulham squad and at a higher successful completion rate of 79% they get the ball to where they want it more often. Crossing, for some unknown reason, is not one of Arsenal's best aspects. They have put in more crosses than Fulham but as the Reds are less accurate Jean Tigana' squad's crosses are more productive.

The fact that Arsenal are scoring an average 2.16 goals per game does not mean they are soft at the back. The have conceded 27 goals against 31 by Fulham and they tackle and block at a similar rate to The Cottagers. All in all there is little light in the stats for Fulham and they will need to pull out all the stops to avoid a similar result to their last visit.

Matchday Referee

Eddie  Wolstenholme, Lancashire
Eddie Wolstenholme acquitted himself well in his debut Barclaycard Premiership season, taking charge of 11 matches and dishing out an average 3.3 yellow cards per game.

The 48-year-old official served a long apprenticeship in the Football League before making the step up, having begun his career in the Preston Sunday League back in 1977 before slowly rising up through the ranks of county and area standard to make the Football league list in 1992.

Wolstenholme's biggest match came in 1998 when he took charge of the Division One play off final, and he also took charge of the Division Two equivalent in 2001

Fulham games reffed by Eddie  Wolstenholme
Game at Arsenal on the 1st Feb will be his first Fulham game this season.

17-11-2001 English Premier Fulham 3-1 Newcastle 6 0 .
Bookings: Dabizas , Elliott , Lee , O'Brien , Robert , Shearer (Newcastle)
22-09-2001 English Premier Leicester 0-0 Fulham 4 0
Bookings: Sinclair , Stewart (Leicester) Boa Morte , Davis (Fulham)

2002/ 2003
Mr. Wolstenholme's score sheet Average Premiership Referee score sheet
Total Match Avg Total Match
Games 6 10
Fouls 172 28.67 288 27.90
Penalties 1 0.17 2 0.23
Yellows 19 3.17 33 3.20
Reds 2 0.33 2 0.19
Fouls per Yellow 9.1   8.7  

Ref Wolstenholme is whistling less this season, about 3 times less a game. He is also issuing less yellows and reds while giving less penalties. However it should be noted that Ref Wolstenholme's stats are on the Premiership average so he is less savage than last season but is not yet a pussy cat.

Patrick Vieira(M) has 7 yellow cards while Ashley Cole(4) is on 4 yellows and close to a suspension.

Come on Fulham

Arsenal boss Arsenal will be smarting after losing two points to a late Emile Heskey goal at Anfield and will be looking to take their frustrations out on Fulham.

After taking an early lead away to Liverpool, the Gunners played out a pulsating first half where they had the chances to bury Liverpool by half time.

Conversely, despite their problems on Wednesday night, Arsenal are the deadliest team overall in that period, with 19 goals from 98 attempts making them the highest scorers and best finishers.

A look at London derbies in the top flight since Fulham joined the fray last season lends further support to predictions of a home win. Arsenal have won 11 and drawn six of their 18 capital clashes in the last two campaigns, giving them London's best record with an average of 2.2 points per game. Fulham, meanwhile, have just three wins and eight defeats in their 16 derbies. With an average of 0.81 points per match, they are the only Londoners picking up less than a point per game in local clashes.
Source: planetfootball/4thegame

Victory for Arsenal looks practically inevitable in their clash with Fulham at Highbury. The title race is now getting into full swing, and we should not expect the Gunners, priced at 1/3, to slip up, especially as they will be eager to make amends for dropping two points at Anfield.

Arsene Wenger’s men paid the price for not taking their chances against Liverpool on Wednesday. Now, back at Highbury on Saturday, they are extremely unlikely to make any such mistakes.

In truth, 9/1 Fulham face a mighty task if they are to take anything from the game. The Gunners are unbeaten in eleven and have been consistently brilliant at Highbury. Furthermore, the return of Patrick Vieira has further strengthened the midfield.

In midweek, we suggested backing Manchester City to beat Fulham and this recommendation was in no small part because of the Cottagers’ dreadful away form. While their performances at Loftus Road should prove strong enough to ensure another season of Premiership football, it has been a different story on the road. Jean Tigana’s team have just one away league win to their names, and that came back in mid-September.

The Fulham coach was so incensed after his side’s abject performance at Maine Road that he summoned his players for extra training on Thursday morning. While such a move may have a positive effect, it is doubtful that we will see the rewards on Saturday. The Cottagers are still without key men Van Der Sar and Saha, and have never won at Arsenal in their history.

Source: Readabet

Betting odds Man City Draw Fulham
Coral 2/7 10/3 8/1
Hills 1/4 4/1 7/1
Ladbrokes 1/4 7/2 9/1
SuperSoccer 1/3 10/3 13/2
Stanley 2/7 7/2 15/2
Betfair 3/10 26/5 25/2
All prices subject to fluctuation(particularly Betfair).

Diehard Fulham fans should go to Betfair for a win or draw. On the High Street it is Hills for the draw and Ladbrokes for the win.
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