Fulham will go from one London derby to another this week when they welcome Arsenal to Craven Cottage this weekend in the English Premier League.
The Cottagers were comfortably beaten 3-0 by Chelsea in their mid-week derby and will be hoping for a better performance against the Gunners. However, much like Chelsea, the North London club have their eyes firmly set on a potential top-four finish at the end of the year and will be tough to beat here.
The Gunners are undefeated in their last five Premier League games, and with Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur both facing difficult matches this week, will know that this week is a big week for their top four aspirations. They will understand all too well the chance they missed during the week against Everton, and will be desperate to rectify those mistakes against Martin Jol's men.
Will that be enough, however, for Arsenal to get by on the road? Or is this Fulham's chance to stand up and leave their mark on another London derby?
Read on for a full preview of this Premier League match including all the need-to-know details, live viewing information, analysis and predictions.
Date: Saturday, April 20, 2013
Start time: 10:00 a.m. ET (3:00 p.m. British time)
Venue: Craven Cottage, Fulham, England
Live Stream and TV Information
According to Live Soccer TV, TalkSport Radio, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and SiriusXM FC will all provide coverage of the game in the U.S.
A live stream can be found through ESPN3 (United States).
Previous Encounters This Season
Arsenal have played Fulham just one other time this season—a thrilling 3-3 draw at the Emirates Stadium played back in November 2012.
Goals to Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski had the Gunners up 2-0 inside the opening 25 minutes and seemingly in control. However, courtesy of goals to the then-new signing of Dimitar Berbatov and Alexander Kacaniklic (who had only just been introduced as a substitute) had the Cottagers back on level terms heading into the half-time interval.
Fulham would steal a shock lead in the 67th minute when Berbatov would find the back of the net from the penalty spot. Mikel Arteta was deemed to have fouled Bryan Ruiz, and the former Manchester United striker duly converted.
That lead wouldn't last long, however, with Giroud again finding the back of the net to tie the game at 3-3 heading into the final 20 minutes of play.
Both teams would miss key chances to clinch the win, with Arteta missing a penalty in the final minutes the best chance of them all.
As mentioned above, Arsenal come into this fixture with a very impressive form line—losing just one of their past 11 Premier League matches, although that was in another London derby against Spurs.
The Gunners have lost just four matches away from home all season and will come into this one very confident that they can emerge with victory—especially after seeing Chelsea dispose of the home side with relative ease during the week.
That loss was Fulham's second loss in their past three matches, and after an impressive five-game undefeated streak, have now not win in their last four. However, they have only lost two of their past six at Craven Cottage, and with the chance a top-half finish this year, will be desperate to finish the season with a strong showing here.
Key Player to Follow: Olivier Giroud, Arsenal
Giroud might have taken a while to settle in to Arsenal—going his first 10 games without finding the back of the net for the North London club.
Since then, however, Giroud has been a dominant striker at the top of the attack for Arsenal, and has grown into his role at the club. Moreover, he has produced some very strong statistics for the year, and will back himself to continue that success against Fulham, whom he scored a brace against in their encounter earlier this year.
In 31 league matches (22 starts), Giroud has scored 11 goals with three assists. Those numbers rise to 17 goals and 13 assists in all competitions.
Inasmuch, Giroud is fundamental to the Gunners' attacking style, and whilst he isn't ever going to be Robin van Persie, he brings a different element to their attack—one that so far, is giving the Gunners great success in the Premier League.
Look for the Frenchman to be a big threat on the road in this one.
Biggest Weakness to Watch For: Can Arsenal's Defense Hold up Again?
Fulham might not have shown a great deal of attacking strength against Chelsea, but Arsenal will still come into this one wondering just how their defense is going to hold up in this one.
After conceding three goals to the Cottagers earlier in the year (and it probably should have been more), the North London club will be desperate for some cohesion and solidity at the back, which they have struggled to show throughout this year.
Just two of the Gunners' last seven games have produced clean sheets, but interestingly, they've been very strong at the back away from home this year—keeping clean sheets in 37.5 percent of their away games, and conceding just 14 goals in their 16 road games in 2013.
Thomas Vermaelen hasn't been as strong this year as in years gone by, and there have been some breakdowns between the defensive trio of him, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.
Arsenal will be desperate to avoid those happening again here, and keeping the goal-poaching Fulham forwards away. Just whether they can do that, however, still remains to be seen.
Hot Stats to Consider
Dan Talintyre @dantalintyre
#Arsenal have conceded 70% more goals against against London opponents this year than non-London opponents (h/t @WhoScored).2013-4-18 01:41:13
Dan Talintyre @dantalintyre
#Arsenal have also scored 42% more goals against against London opponents this year than non-London opponents (h/t @WhoScored).2013-4-18 01:41:22
Given what we saw during the week from Fulham against Chelsea, it's understandable to think that Arsenal will chalk up a similar result against the Cottagers.
After all, they are coming into it with the same desire and needs as the Blues, and have shown this year to have a pretty similar attacking strength also.
There is no denying that Arsenal play differently in London games than in non-London games. Perhaps they push for a bit more, perhaps their midfield loses some it's cohesion—either way, the Gunners are a more free-flowing side when they come up against London opponents.
Which, given the form that they're in, should mean big things for Arsene Wengers's men as they seek to keep their top-four ambitions alive with this one.
Expect plenty of attacking chances early for the visitors to result in goals for the Gunners. And whilst the home side should also have enough strength to find the back of the net, don't expect that to alter the final result of this one too much.
Arsenal will keep their top-four dream rolling along whilst Fulham will find themselves in a battle once more to finish in the top half of the EPL this year.
Prediction: Fulham 1, Arsenal 3
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