Fulham will host cross town rivals Arsenal at Craven Cottage in London on Saturday August 24th in the first game of the English Premier League weekend. Referee Howard Webb will be in charge of the match. The Gunners lost their season-opener last Saturday as they were upset 3-1 at home by Aston Villa. Fulham grabbed all three points away at Sunderland in their first match.
Arsenal had a chance to redeem themselves during the week as they had a Champions League qualifying playoff game in Turkey against Fenerbahce on Wednesday and came out 3-0 winners. Manager Arsene Wenger will be hoping the team can keep the momentum going against Fulham. It won’t be easy though as the Cottagers have cause major problems for the Gunners over the past few years.
Fulham has lost just once to Arsenal in the last five meetings and that came at home 1-0 last April. The other three games ended in draws with Fulham winning one as well. All of the top clubs won last weekend and Chelsea has a pair of wins in the bag already, so this is a very important early-season match for Arsenal as they could find themselves six points behind most of their major rivals at the end of the weekend.
Wenger will have to do without the services of French international defender Laurent Koscielny for the game as he was sent off with a red card against Aston Villa and is suspended. Also, Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain has been sidelined for up to 12 weeks due to a bad knee injury he received last week. Midfielders Abou Diaby and Mikel Arteta will likely miss the game with injuries and defender Thomas Vermaelen is also on the shelf. However, defender Nacho Monreal is back in the squad.
Fulham manager Martin Jol signed English international striker Darren Bent for the season on loan from Aston Villa and also added English international midfielder Scott Parker from Tottenham and signed him to a three-year deal. However, Maarten Stekelenburg, Fulham’s new goalkeeper, was injured in Sunderland and is out and the same for Kieran Richardson. Attacker Alexander Kacaniklic should be back in the squad though and David Stockdale should start between the goalposts.
These two local rivals have faced each other 52 times over the years. Arsenal has more or less owned Fulham up until the last couple of seasons as they have beaten them 34 times and drawn with them on 10 occasions. Fulham has just eight victories in the 52 contests. Arsenal has also outscored their neighbours by a count of 110 to 59 over those games. However, Fulham usually plays well at home against Arsenal and all eight of their victories have come at home at Craven Cottage.
This is a tough match for the Gunners and they’ll have to take advantage of their scoring chances to take all three points as well as receive good goaltending and defensive effort from their players. It should be a close match with Arsenal earning a win or draw.
Sportsbook William Hill has the current odds of an Arsenal victory at 21/20 with a Fulham win at 11/4 and a draw at 11/5.