Fulham host Arsenal at Craven Cottage on Sunday afternoon. The hosts have won six of their last 11 league matches and a defeat last time out to Brentford ended a seven-match unbeaten run in all competitions. The Gunners have won four league matches in a row and drew 2-2 in Portugal on Thursday night in the Europa League.
Marco Silva’s side are having a great season. They sit seventh in the table and are just one point off the traditional magic 40-point mark. They lost 3-2 at Brentford last time out as they allowed 2.20 xG from just 36% opposition possession. The Cottagers had gone seven without losing before that, beating Sunderland in an FA Cup replay and then Nottingham Forest 2-0 at home in the league.
A 1-0 win at Brighton followed in a smash-and-grab result. They scored in the 88th minute having had 0.23 xG up to that point and allowing 21 shots and 2.22 xG to Brighton. A 1-1 home draw with Leeds and a 2-0 win vs Leeds followed in the FA Cup fifth round.
Fulham Team News
Fulham are without key central midfielder Joao Palhinha due to suspension. January signing Saša Lukić is set to replace him alongside Harrison Reed. Tom Cairney should be back as another midfield option.
Neeskens Kebano and Cedric Soares are set to miss this match, the latter due to the league’s loan rules. In-form winger Manor Solomon (five goals in five matches) is set to be preferred once again to Bobby De Cordova-Reid.
The Cottagers are a footballing side, but they are also able to absorb pressure at times, as shown in the win against Brighton. They’ve beaten Chelsea at home recently and will try to shock Arsenal.
A point would be a good result but they won’t park the bus and play for a draw from the first.
Arsenal are in great league form with four wins in a row as a slump was put behind them. They were excellent at Aston Villa and scored twice in additional time to win 4-2 having been at 2-2 after 90 minutes. They then won 1-0 at Leicester by allowing just one shot all match. They won their game-in-hand against Everton 4-0 after that, dominating the second half.
Last time out, then trailed 2-0 vs Bournemouth at home but scored a 98th-minute winner in a key 3-2 victory when they had 31 shots (12 blocked). They rested a few players in midweek in a 2-2 away draw at Sporting Lisbon. Prior to this strong run, they had lost 3-1 at home to Man City to lose the top spot in the table – they’re now five points clear.
Arsenal Team News
Mikel Arteta will recall Thomas Partey, Martin Odegaard, and Gabriel after partial rests in midweek. Jorginho, Fabio Vieira and Jakub Kiwior will drop down to the bench. In attack, Gabriel Jesus remains out and both Eddie Nketiah and Leandro Trossard are major doubts.
Gabriel Martinelli could play as the central striker. Reiss Nelson could get another game from the start as the left winger although Emile Smith Rowe is another option.
Arsenal needs to win this match, especially if Man City wins at Crystal Palace and slashes the lead to two points at the top of the table.
Arteta’s side will look to dominate the ball and won’t drop back at any point. A draw would feel like a defeat unless City have dropped points on Saturday.
Fulham have lost just 2 of their last nine home EPL matches (vs. Man Utd and Spurs)
Fulham have kept 1 clean sheet in their last 6 home matches (PL)
Fulham have lost their last 4 home matches vs Arsenal
Arsenal have won 7 of their last 9 away EPL matches (17-6 aggregate)
Arsenal have scored 2+ goals in 5 of their last 8 away EPL matches
Arsenal have won their last 4 away London derbies
The Gunners had to play in Portugal on Thursday night, which complicates this match. With injuries in the attack, they could kick-off just two points clear of Man City. Fulham are a tough nut to crack, so this could be settled by one goal. Arsenal should have too much.