Arsenal head into their match with Fulham looking to improve on some stuttering recent performances that see them sitting level on points with Saturday’s opponents.
The Gunners were heavily criticized for their lackluster showing in a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United last week. But boss Arsene Wenger has tried to play down the level of disappointment with that showing, while also suggesting that he believes his side can recover from a run of three defeats in their last five Premier League outings.
“At the moment it is very difficult in our society to keep the right distance from things—it's very emotional,” he said, according to Arsenal’s official website. “And after our game at Manchester United the team was hit very hard.
"We didn't have the greatest of games but it wasn't the disaster everyone painted afterwards.
"Let's not forget we have played ten games, six of them away from home. We've played at Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Stoke.
"So if we have a good home record I think we have a very interesting part to play in the League."
Wenger could have some positive news on the injury front for Saturday’s match with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey set for late fitness tests ahead of a potential return to action. Theo Walcott may well keep his place, though, after scoring on a rare start in Tuesday’s Champions League draw with Schalke.
Arsenal are also likely to have goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny on the bench after the Poland international came through an Under-21 game on Friday. The Gunners will be missing Jack Wilshere following the recently returned midfielder’s sending off against Manchester United.
Fulham have enjoyed a positive beginning to the campaign, although in recent weeks they have garnered a reputation as draw specialists—emerging with a point from three of their last four matches.
The Cottagers attack is likely to be spearheaded by former Manchester United front man Dimitar Berbatov, who has made a strong start to his time in West London.
Manager Martin Jol could have key midfielder Mahmadou Diarra back in his squad for the meeting with Arsenal, while Kieran Richardson may also make his return.
D: Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen
M: Coquelin, Arteta
Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski
D: Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise
M: Duff, Diarra, Sidwell, Kacaniklic
F: Ruiz, Berbatov
Prediction: Arsenal have struggled at both ends of the pitch in recent weeks—making errors defensively, while lacking a spark in the attacking third. With Kieran Gibbs still out, Arsenal may have problems dealing with a Fulham side who have not found goals in short supply this season.
At the other end of the pitch, Arsenal will surely look to prosper from an in-form Theo Walcott going up against the attack-minded John Arne Riise.
Arsenal badly need a victory but may be forced to settle for a point.
Arsenal 2-2 Fulham
Where to watch: The Premier League match kicks-off from the Emirates at 10 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN2, with a live stream available on ESPN3.
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