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Fulham welcome Arsenal -:- Match Preview

last updated Friday 23rd August 2013, 3:17 PM

Fulham manager Martin Jol
Fulham manager
Martin Jol
Martin Jol
The alarm sirens for Arsene Wenger's reign will be screeching if Arsenal lose back-to-back opening league matches for the first time since the inaugural Premier League season 21 years ago. If they surrender as meekly as they did against Villa then Fulham can record successive opening Premier League victories for the first time.

But the Gunners reminded everyone that they're not far short of being a really good team when they won handsomely at Fenerbahce in the Champions League on Wednesday. Arsene Wenger has been overly-cautious in the transfer marker so far, but some of the criticism of him has bordered on the hysterical.

Fans have rightly been frustrated that big-name signings have been mooted yet no deals have been forthcoming. But it's not Wenger's fault that Liverpool wouldn't sell Luis Suarez. The Anfield club told me last week the Uruguayan was never going to move to the Emirates.

Yohan Cabaye's smooth passing and movement would add numbers and quality to midfield, a composed defender like Ashley Williams is a must, while a consistently reliable goalkeeper like Asmir Begovic would be an improvement.

A marquee signing up front would also appease the fans - although actually the side already has plenty of potency with four players reaching double figures last season. Olivier Giroud will always be unfairly compared to Robin van Persie but his 19 goals from 49 games ratio is a decent return. He scored twice in the home game last season against Fulham, who've never won at Arsenal.

Martin Jol has significantly added bite to his midfield with the signing of Scott Parker. The loaning of Darren Bent is also sharp business. Fulham certainly have enough quality to stay up, although they will have to end their miserable Spring slump at home where they've lost their last four games.

But Fulham's opening win at Sunderland was flattering. The home side dominated possession and had 14 shots. The Cottagers won it with their only effort.

There is also a lack of pace in key areas of Jol's side. Theo Walcott, supplied by Santi Cazorla, can exploit that. It'll be tight and tense but I can't see Arsenal being beaten again.


  • Three of the last five meetings between the two clubs have ended in a draw.

  • Fulham have won just three of 24 Premier League matches against the Gunners; all three of those wins have come at Craven Cottage.

  • Arsenal have won on eight of their 12 trips to Craven Cottage since Fulham were promoted to the Premier League.

  • There have been four red cards in the last three Premier League fixtures between the teams at Fulham.

  • Fulham

  • Fulham have lost their last four home matches dating back to last season, including April's 1-0 defeat to the Gunners. They were beaten nine times at Craven Cottage during the 2012-13 campaign - the equal-most home defeats in last season's Premier League.

  • The last time Fulham started a campaign with back-to-back victories was their 2000-01 promotion-winning season when they won their opening 11 fixtures.

  • Darren Bent has scored six goals in his last eight Premier League games against Arsenal.

  • Martin Jol's men have scored six of their last eight goals in the second half of matches.

  • Arsenal

  • Arsenal took 19 points in London derbies last season, more than any club from the capital. Victory would see them become the first club to register 100 London derby wins in the Premier League.

  • Only Manchester City (34) conceded fewer goals than the Gunners (37) last season.

  • All 12 of Olivier Giroud's 12 Premier League goals have been scored in London (11 at the Emirates Stadium).

  • The Gunners have been given more Premier League red cards since the start of last season than any other side (six).

Source Jonathan Pearce at BBCSports
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