Match Preview: Arsenal v Fulham

Arsenal include Alex Song into the squad for the match against Fulham while new signing Mikael Silvestre has a slight muscular problem but may make the squad.

Samir Nasri is likely to start as he shakes off a thigh strain while Eboue and Walcott are expected to remain in side. Kolo Toure may come back in for Johan Djourou, who may be considered unlucky to miss out.

Fulham are to be without Andrew Johnson and is the only first team concern and are likely to field the same team that lost to Hull City but play in a flexible 4-5-1 as opposed to 4-4-2 with Seol moving to the left.

Likely Arsenal line up

Subs : Fabianski, Djourou, Song, Gibbs, Bendtner, Ramsey, Wilshere

Likely Fulham Line Up

Subs: Zuberbuhler, Stoor, Kallio, Andreasen, Andranik, Nevland, Dempsey

Kolo Toure Will Not Move to Midfield

The new signing of Silvestre will not move Kolo Toure to midfield as some thought with Wenger happy with who he has though a new signing is possible. Speaking on Arsenal.com he said, “I’m not under any pressure, I feel Diaby will be a fantastic central midfielder, as will Song and Denilson. And we have Fabregas of course.”

On Toure he said: “Kolo is not a player with special stamina, he’s more a guy with big explosive power but he’s not a long distance runner. Physiologically he’s not a central midfielder.”

The Chalkboard

Fulham are likely to play a flexible 4-4-2 formation where they can switch to  a five man midfield. It is a smaill pitch at Craven Cottage so Fulham may look to squeeze out the Gunners and counter in numbers. They were notoriously quick starters last season and continued in the same vein last week as they took the lead in the 2-1 defeat to Hull.

Where the game could be won and lost

1) However the Cottagers play with no recognised defensive midfielder and it is here Arsenal can look to exploit. The Fulham midfield may leave gaps in between them and the defence, and players like Van Persie and similarly Nasri can look to operate in these areas. This is shown by the shaded box in the diagram. This was the case against Hull and most of last season.

2) Last season Adebayor scored two identical headers at Craven Cottage from the wings and it may be the case of same again this time round. Arsenal will be looking to push the full backs forward and will be looking for Sagna especially to deliver quality crosses. Hangeland is a tall defender but the rest of the squad are fairly short while the defence is not the best positionaly. Rosicky had a good game last time out and Nasri will be looking to do the same cutting in from the left which will also free Clichy forward.

Dangerman: Jimmy Bullard- The tall playmaker will be looking to orchestrate things in midfield and is the heartbeat of the side. If he plays well Fulham play well and is a threat from the counter and set-pieces too as Almunia conceded three goals from free kicks last season.

Key Player: Emmanuel Adebayor- The lanky forward will likely to get many chances and if he increases his goals to shot ratio then Arsenal should win.

Verdict: Fulham are a dangerous side in attack and will be looking to counter however they are not as solid in defence. Arsenal will look to pick off the gaps and cross from wide areas onto the head of Adebayor however the Gunners are inexperienced in the centre of midfield and may keep Fulham in the game if they don’t control the game.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Fulham

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