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Match Preview: Arsenal v. Fulham

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

On Sunday morning, Arsenal welcome Fulham to the Emirates stadium for their last Premier League match of the year.  A win seals third place for Arsenal, as does a draw (barring a miraculous 12-goal win from Spurs).  Fulham will probably not field their strongest eleven, as they must travel to Hamburg on Wednesday for the Europa League final v. Atletico Madrid.  Furthermore, Bobby Zamora and Damien Duff will both miss the match with injuries.

Arsenal, for their part, will have Robin van Persie and Andrei Arshavin available, unless the latter's calf injury flares up again.  The usual list of injuries remains beyond that, so expect to see the same back four starting tomorrow that started at Blackburn, with the addition of possibly even Henri Lansbury to the squad.

The reverse fixture at the end of last September saw Arsenal pull off a 1-0 victory behind a van Persie goal and some magnificent deputizing between the posts from Vito Mannone, who pulled off at least four incredible saves against a Fulham team that were on great form on the day.  Mannone's performance was such that supporters began clamoring for him to take over the position, which he did for four more matches (not without mistakes) until Manuel Almunia returned to action in November.

Arsène Wenger does not feel that a weakened Fulham team will change his team's approach, saying, "Let's focus on our performance and make sure we turn up with the right attitude.  Then I believe that we will get the point or three points that we want and need."  This Arsenal squad have had their backs to the wall on numerous occasions this year and have usually turned up with a needed goal; it has been when the pressure wasn't quite so high that they have looked more slack.  Hopefully tomorrow they will hold off a resilient Fulham team to secure third place.

Also, finally, I encourage all of you to visit Cottagers Confidential, the wonderful SBNation Fulham blog that Russ Goldman produces.  Russ does great work on his site and knows more about Fulham than just about anyone, so please pay his site a visit for all the perspectives from a Fulham supporter.

The match is on, which is not free, at 11 AM EDT.  Enjoy wherever you are.