The last two meetings against our London rivals Fulham have ended in stalemates – a 2-2 in the month of February last season and a 1-1 draw at the Emirates in November last year.
Arsenal have shown a lot in terms of recovery from a poor start to the season. Arsenal now sit in the top four after struggling Chelsea lost to Aston Villa on the weekend which saw The Gunners leapfrog their London rivals following a narrow win over QPR at the Emirates.
A win over Fulham later this afternoon will ensure that Arsenal will keep hold of fourth place and ahead of Chelsea by at least two points.
As we all know there aren’t any easy games in the Premier League, as almost every club have a few threats that managers and players know can cause problems.
Here are the three Fulham players that I think Arsenal must be wary of this afternoon:
1. Clint Dempsey
The 28-year-old American winger is quick, a good dribbler and a very creative outlet for Fulham. He can be a handful for most defenders, as his pace and overall positioning can pose a threat. Dempsey, who was linked with a move to Arsenal in the summer, has scored 6 goals so far this season for Fulham, creating 4 in the process. For a midfielder that’s not a bad return. Definitely Fulham’s key man and one that must be dealt with.
2. Andy Johnson
The English striker seems to be doing better in the Europa League than the domestic one. Johnson has only scored 3 goals in the Premier League so far this season, and bagged an assist as well. But don’t let the stats throw you off track. the 30-year-old has a brilliant work rate, is good in aerial duels, strong on the ball, and his finishing is deadly, despite his poor record. His pace will be Arsenal’s main threat. We know our centre-backs aren’t exactly the quickest in the league, though it will be interesting to see how we deal with him in our encounter later today.
3. John Arne Riise
The former Liverpool and Roma man showed us what he is still capable, despite being 31. He can defend well, but what he brings to the table, in terms of attacking, is something dangerous to keepers. The man from Norway has a thunderous left foot shot and does like to shoot from afar. His free-kick abilities are a threat to any goalkeeper in the league – powerful and accurate, though he hasn’t scored from one yet its best not to tempt fate. He has a knack for bombing forward, adding that extra man up front. It’s always best to keep such players at bay, as they can be stubborn to stop and often cause confusion to opposition defences.
The Fulham game is the last of the festive fixtures for Arsenal and winning it will surely add to the joy and confidence at the club.
A brilliant overall team performance will surely bag us the three vital points today, but it won’t be an easy one for our boys.
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