Jack Stroudley looks ahead to Sunday’s game as table-topping Arsenal visit Craven Cottage.
It wasn’t a night to remember on Monday when Brentford came out deserved leaders against Fulham under the lights and on Sky Sports cameras. Fulham were second best throughout and struggled to match Brentford’s pace.
They don’t get any easier as we now welcome league leaders and high-flying Arsenal to Craven Cottage on Sunday. While Fulham still sit in seventh, by the time 2pm on Sunday comes around chances are Fulham will need a result against the league leaders to keep those faint European dreams alive. But can we get a result? And if so, how?
Arsenal need no introduction. This season they have been spectacular and Mikel Arteta deserves the credit he is receiving with how he has steered a toxic Arsenal ship towards the top of the Premier League table along with a five-point gap on title rivals Manchester City. Despite this, Arteta will have some selection headaches with the likes of Jesus, Nketiah and Trossard all 100% out for Sunday’s fixture. As well as this, Martin Odegaard (who has been crucial to Arsenal this season) has picked up an illness which could see him miss their trip to SW6.
The visitors have been exceptional this season, but Fulham have shown once already that they can take it to Arsenal, narrowly losing out 2-1 in August. As well as this, both Bournemouth and Aston Villa have taken the game to Arsenal in recent weeks and if it weren’t for late goals in both of those games, Arsenal would’ve dropped points. That, along with their compact schedule of Thursday to Sunday football, could result in a complacent performance from the Gunners.
How do we prepare?
There is no new injury news in the Fulham camp. Tom Cairney is still out injured, and Cedric is ineligible. Meanwhile, Joao Palhinha is honouring the second of his two game suspension. So, this is how I would line up on Sunday.
It feels strange not changing anything after a performance as tepid as Monday night, but does Silva really have a choice? Both Reed and Lukic will have to play due to our minimal squad depth. The only two question marks come in the front three.
The first of those is on the right; Willian performed below average on Monday night against Brentford with Solomon’s purple patch forcing him to move from the left-hand side over to the right. Despite this, he still has to play. He’s been exceptional this season and deserves to keep his place. On top of this, De Cordova-Reid is our only midfield depth (outside of Luke Harris) due to injuries and suspensions so will be needed off the bench.
Mitrovic is currently in the midst of a dry spell in front of goal. He hasn’t scored since Leicester away two months ago and if you include his penalty miss against Newcastle hasn’t really created much in that time. Vinicius has come off the bench most weeks and in the past month has managed to gain two goal contributions. Despite this, it feels silly to drop Mitro. He is pivotal to the way we play and dropping him won’t do much for his confidence.
The final verdict
The league leaders at home is always going to be a tough test but coming off the back of Brentford and the lack of depth available in midfield it feels like an even trickier task. Arsenal are going to be up for it and will see this fixture as a must-win. I think we will perform better than Monday night, but Arsenal’s quality will show in a 2-1 win for the visitors.