Monday, 2 January 2012

Arsenal's Premier League Trip To Fulham Previewed

Arsenal played against QPR on Saturday afternoon, and just over 48 hours later they have to play against Fulham. Of course their opponents will be in the same boat, as they played Norwich City on Saturday afternoon too. It's not easy for the players to play so many games so often, as the modern game is so intense.

I'm sure Arsene Wenger will look to make a few changes to the side that just about beat QPR 1-0, but he won't have too many options in his defence. Thomas Vermaelen picked up an injury in that game, and he'll be out for a few weeks according to the manager. It looks like he will have to move to sign a full back on loan, as his defensive options are so limited at the moment.

Arsenal actually had no defenders on the bench against QPR, but both Alex Song and Francis Coquelin are capable of playing there. I would imagine Ignasi Miquel will be added to the squad, and he could well play at left back too. I'm not sure whether Sebastien Squillaci is fit or not, but I would still prefer to see Miquel in the team before him.

Manuel Almunia returned to the bench a few weeks ago when both Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone were injured, but he is still Arsenal's reserve keeper at the moment. I thought Fabianski had recovered from his knock, and I'm a little worried that Almunia might be ahead of him in the pecking order. I know Fabianski has had his problems, but if Wojciech Szczesny picks up an injury I would not like to see Almunia take his place.

With so few defenders available to him Wenger will probably have to keep the same defence that played against QPR with the exception of either Miquel or Coquelin playing instead of Vermaelen. I thought Coquelin did well when he came on for the last 35 minutes, and I wouldn't really have a preference between the two of them.

In midfield I think there might be a change or two, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Tomas Rosicky or Yossi Benayoun play from the start. Aaron Ramsey did have a rest against Wolves and he might be up to playing the full 90 minutes, but surely fatigue must be a factor for Mikael Arteta. If Arteta is up to it I'm sure he will play, but if he's struggling he shouldn't be risked.

I would be very surprised if Gervinho doesn't start, as this could be his last game before he goes on international duty to the African Cup of Nations. Wenger wants both Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh to be allowed to stay for the FA Cup game with Leeds United next week, but they're scheduled to leave two days before that game.

Robin van Persie has suffered with injuries throughout his career, and I would be surprised if he is risked today. I think he will be left on the bench, and only introduced if he's needed to try to get the team out of a tight spot. The most likely replacement for him is Chamakh, and his inclusion won't fill me with a lot of confidence.

There is an argument for starting Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the team, as he has done so well on the other occasions he has played. There is a possibility that Wenger is not including him at the moment because of Arsenal's lack of actual full backs. I have heard it suggested that the defensive side of his game may need some work, and until the full backs return his chances will be limited.

Fulham almost beat Norwich on Saturday, but they drew after a last minute equaliser against them. Norwich are not an easy team to play against, and I'm sure the Fulham players will be feeling just as tired as Arsenal.
The two teams played only a few weeks ago, and Fulham took a point at the Emirates after Vermaelen scored for both sides. It was a game Arsenal probably should have won, but they did well to get a point after going 1-0 down half way through the second half.

Since their poor start to the season Arsenal have won four of their last five away games, and only league leaders Manchester City have beaten them in that time. They struggled a little in their last away game against Aston Villa, but they just about did enough to get the three points. I think they have a little more freedom to play away from home because teams don't sit back quite so much.

I think today's game will be a tough game for Arsenal, but they will emerge with a 2-1 win. I would love to see them dominate Fulham and beat them by a good score, but any win will do. As long as they take the three points I'll be happy enough to see them remain in fourth place.

That's it for today.

Here's a look at all 226 Thierry Henry goals for Arsenal.

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  1. I think Arteta needs a break - we have a week off after this match but I think he's been pushing it for awhile now. Coq could play holding and Song could push forward which he likes to do anyway :) I think RVP will start on bench. COYG!!!

  2. I think the whole team probably need a break but so do Fulham I would imagine. They will have a week off after this game and that should recharge their batteries nicely. Hopefully they have enough in them to take the three points today.