In a few hours Arsenal will host fellow London team Fulham at the Emirates. Teams find themselves in a different positions, while Arsenal is first and have been for a while now (with a few one day interchanges that is), Fulham is basically just above the drop zone. It’s safe to say both teams need points very much, so there will be no stepping down.
The big majority of my fellow Gooners believe it will be an easy win, so do most of the pundits on the web with their predictions. I on the other hand, am not so optimistic. Don’t get me wrong, we can, we should and we will win, but it will not be the routine job almost everyone thinks. I have several reasons to believe that.
Firstly, our current form is not amazing. Yes, we win games, so nothing to complain there, but you get the feeling we struggle against lower teams. Just look at our game against Cardiff. That was actually quite similar to today’s game – Cardiff was without a manager (Fulham got new one not so far ago), both are »bottom dwellers«, in fact just one point between them, but Cardiff made us work very hard for our victory and tremble till the 90th minute.
Yes, this season we defeated Fulham quite easily at Craven Cottage, but if you recall the last game at the Emirates, it was a completely different spectacle. We went one-nil up, but were trailing for quite a long time also. In the end Arteta failed to convert the penalty and it ended 3:3. That will give Fulham an extra boost, helping them believe they can get something out of today’s game.
But on the other side, the game showed us Giroud can score against Fulham, so there’s a good cause for optimism. Besides, Fulham does seem to give us problems every now and then. 2 years ago we played at the Cottage, went one nil up through Koscielny, had also couple of chances later and managed to lose the game after Mertesacker’s mistake (fortunately these mistakes don’t happen any more). So you can see, plenty of reasons for the Cottagers to believe they are not complete underdogs here.
Fulham played a cup game on Tuesday and played very well and won quite well. Even though it was just Norwich, they have another thing to draw their optimism from. Also, Darren Bent scored the first goal. He scored 8 goals in the last 7 games against Arsenal (or similar, I’m not sure), so him finding his scoring boots is a thing that gives me a reason for concern (although I’m sure Mert and Kos will keep him on a leash).
As for Arsenal, I said it several times, Fulham is Podolski’s team and he should start (and star). He’s used to scoring against them and let’s not break this tradition.
I bet it will be 2-1, with Giroud scoring, but wouldn’t be surprised if goals come from Poldi either.
Blaž from Ljubljana