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Preview: Fulham vs Arsenal – prediction, team news, line-ups

Craven Cottage sets the stage for an all-London New Year’s Eve showdown between bottom-half Fulham and title-chasing Arsenal.

Marco Silva must have had a hard time fathoming his side’s inexplicable dip in form after overseeing three consecutive league defeats without scoring on the back of back-to-back 5-0 home wins. 

Following a dismal 2-0 home loss to relegation-fighting Burnley on Boxing Day, the Cottagers slumped to a 3-0 midweek humbling to Bournemouth, losing further ground on the upper half of the table. 

No matter the outcome of this London derby, Fulham will close out 2023 in the lower reaches, preoccupied with the thought of being drawn into a relegation scrap.

Only six points separate the home side from 18th-placed Luton at the start of the final Premier League round of 2023, highlighting the importance of signing off on a positive note. 

However, the schedule has not been kind to Silva’s team.

Visiting Arsenal take this cross-capital trip hellbent on making amends for a 2-0 home loss to fellow London rivals West Ham United on Thursday, which denied them a chance to return to the top of the pile. 

David Raya spared the Gunners further misery as he thwarted Said Benrahma’s stoppage-time penalty, although it was hardly a consolation for Mikel Arteta’s lofty aspirations.

Despite spending Christmas as the Premier League leaders for the second season in a row, Arsenal must take three points here to end the calendar year at the summit. 

Match Preview

Joao Palhinha’s late equaliser inspired ten-man Fulham to an unexpected 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture at the Emirates Stadium in August, curtailing their humiliating nine-game losing league run against Arsenal.

Since a 2-1 win in January 2012, the Cottagers have lost five consecutive home matches against the north London giants on home turf by an aggregate score of 15-2.

The long-standing struggles against the Gunners are the least of Silva’s problems, knowing his men have lost five of their last seven Premier League London derbies at home ‘to nil’ (W1, D1).

But there’s a silver lining for Fulham. Their habit of thriving in year-ending league fixtures has seen them emerge undefeated in seven of their last eight such contests (W5, D2).

You’d think Arsenal are in the driver’s seat, given their hosts’ rough patch, yet they’ve stuttered on the road recently, going winless on their last three competitive travels (D2, L1).

Scoring has been an issue for the Gunners outside the Emirates, as witnessed by a disappointing run of netting one goal or fewer in six of their last seven away matches.

All that casts doubt on the visitors’ effort to secure a provisional lead at the top before Liverpool’s New Year’s Day home encounter against out-of-form Newcastle United.

Problems could pile up if Arsenal concede first, as they did in the reverse fixture. Their inability to turn the tables on their opposition has seen them go winless in all three such away league games this term (D1, L2). 

Team News

Besides Adama Traore, who’s struggling with a long-term injury, Fulham are sweating over William’s match fitness, and the same goes for vice-captain Tim Ream.

Arsenal manager Arteta can’t call upon the services of Jurrien Timber, Fabio Vieira, Thomas Partey and Takehiro Tomiyasu.

Fulham potential starting line-up:

(4-2-3-1): Bernd Leno; Antonee Robinson, Issa Diop, Tosin Adarabioyo, Kenny Tete; Joao Palhinha, Tom Cairney; Harry Wilson, Andreas Pereira, Alex Iwobi; Carlos Vinicius. 

Arsenal potential starting line-up:

(4-3-3): David Raya; Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes, William Saliba, Oleksandr Zinchenko; Declan Rice, Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe; Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus, Bukayo Saka. 

We Say: Fulham 1-1 Arsenal

Arsenal’s recent away showings have lacked conviction, and even though Fulham’s form doesn’t make for good reading, we back the hosts to steal a point here. 

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