MATCH PREVIEW: Can Arsenal continue their impressive form against Fulham?
For the first time since the 2004-2005 season, Arsenal find themselves unbeaten in their first three matches of the season. They look top extend that run to four with Fulham coming to the Emirates for this week’s Premier League tie.
Fulham come to the Emirates having surprised many with how solid they look on their return to the Premier League. Against Liverpool on the opening day, they looked for a large part of the match, the better team. Last week they earned an important win against Brentford off of a 90th minute header from Alexsandr Mitrovic.
Arsenal are looking to build a significant amount of momentum in the early season and continue to gain confidence in themselves. For the most part this season, the team has looked more solid than it has in some seasons but its still early and as this Premier League season has sown in its dawn, anything can happen.
Scouting Our Opponents
Fulham has had a good start to their return to the Premier League, picking up points against tough opponents like Liverpool and Wolverhampton. Going into this game with a lot of confidence and a tactial directness, Fulham will look to spoil Arsenals perfect form in the Emirates Stadium.
Setting up in a classic 4231 formation, Fulham look to hunt their opponent without possession high up the pitch, and drive forward quickly with possession. Focal points for this directness is former Manchester United youngster Andreas Pereira, putting in some impressive performances in a free roam attacking role, along bully targetman Aleksandar Mitrovic.
In defense, Marco Silva has instructed his front 4 to stay high and hunt the back line. The goal is to either funnel the ball wide so midfield and fullbacks can squeeze up on trap the opposition or tempt a central pass into their square midfield trap. Fulham has been instructed to combat their high block very physically and will likely contest duels even when in risk of fouling the opposition. Should play transition into their own defensive third, Fulham look to squeeze the space centrally by pushing the defensive line beyond the 18yard box and get all players behind the ball quickly. Even in this low/mid block formation, you’ll see the front 4 moving aggressively for the ball. As the match goes on and energy levels drop, Fulham tend to drop back into a low block formation.
In attack, the Lily Whites look to transition into the attacking third very quickly, using Mitrovic as a passing station and Pereira as a conductor. They look to stretch the pitch as much as possible, usually stationing Stansfield and Decordova-Reid wide, with Palhinha and Reed looking to occupy the half spaces or overlapping with the widemen. This being said, Fulham doesn’t look for every opportunity to cross it into Mitrovic. Against Brentford they didn’t particularly look for every crossing opportunity, instead using the width to stretch the backline and create room in the half-spaces to slip in a player or get a shot in on goal. Fulham seem to have trouble, though, when having to pass their way through a team, seeing many of their combination halted by a stray pass or miscommunication.
When attacking Fulham, Arsenal should look to abuse Fulhams high press and compact backline, as it leaves a lot of room available for wide players to get in behind. Should Arsenal be able to pass their way through the high press, Marco Silvas men leaves a lot of room available in wide areas, giving ample opportunity for a winger to get in behind the defense with a diagonal run. While Robinson and Tete are both athletic players, the fact that the front players usually stay central, makes the defense vulnerable for quick horizontal passes and wide overloads.
When defending against Fulham, the Gunners should look to decrease the amount of influence Pereira is able to have on the game. While Mitrovic is a menace in himself, he’s usually used as a passing station when Fulham is transitioning into attack, so if Arsenal can stop that second ball from hititng a fellow Lily White, Fulham will find themselves having to track deeper and deeper in search of build-up passes. Having Partey or Xhaka instructed to block passing options into central areas on long balls, could pin Fulham back into their own half.
How the Match Could Play Out
Marco Silva will likely be aware of Arsenal’s offensive record this season, and look to use Palhinha as a auxillary 3rd center back in defense, to help widen the backline. While Arteta should be aware of Fulham’s wide trap, Arsenal still found themselves using Saka and Martinelli as advanced passing station when necessary, which did cost them possession on a couple of occasions. Fans will find themselves looking two main areas that could be conclusive to this game. Arsenal’s ability to manage their build up play against a very aggressive press, and the forwards ability to exploit Fulham’s compact and high backline. While everyone would enjoy another clean sheet, I do expect Mitrovic to crush our dreams and I expect a 3-1 victory
What the Manager Says (courtesy Arsenal.com)
A really tough match. They’ve been on an incredible run – last year in the Championship they did extremely well, and they haven’t lost a game yet in the Premier League and they’ve played against three very difficult opponents, so credit to them. I think it will be a difficult game.
As you could see last season when he scored 43 goals in the league, and he’s already scored three goals this season, so in terms of the efficiency that he has in these areas, he’s one of the main threats of Fulham.
Arsenal Record vs Opponent (League only)
21 W 6 D 3 L
Goals Scored (Season Average)
Goals Conceded (Season Average)
xG per Match (via fbref.com)
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Assistants: Simon Long, Richard West
Fourth Official: Thomas Bramall
VAR: Michael Oliver
Assistant VAR: Lee Betts
Match Facts (courtesy bbc.co.uk)
- Arsenal have never lost at home to Fulham in 30 meetings in all competitions (W24, D6).
- Fulham very nearly broke their duck when these sides last met at the Emirates in April 2021. They were denied by an injury-time equaliser from Eddie Nketiah in a 1-1 draw.
- Arsenal are the only Premier League team with a 100% winning record this season.
- The Gunners are unbeaten in their last 33 Premier League home games against newly promoted sides (W28, D5) since a 1-0 loss to Newcastle in November 2010.
- This will be Mikel Arteta’s 100th Premier League match as Arsenal manager. He has won 52 of his 99 Premier League matches in charge (W52, D16, L31).
- Gabriel Jesus has been involved in five goals in his first three Premier League appearances for Arsenal, scoring two goals and assisting three more.