Fulham vs. Arsenal
Saturday 20 April 2013
Kickoff: 10:00am ET
Location: Craven College, London
Form: FUL WWLDL | ARS WWWWD
TV Coverage: ESPN2
After a somewhat disappointing result against Everton in a midweek fixture, Arsenal will try to get the ball (of winning, and stuff) rolling again as they travel to Fulham Saturday. Presumably they hope to score more goals than this past week, but concede the same number.
Fulham, on the other hand, won't want to keep anything from their last match, a 3-0 drubbing at home by the other team in Fulham. They've been decent all year - squarely midtable at 10th, with a -7 goal differential - but have only one point from their last three matches, which is a run that Arsenal will attempt to perpetuate.
Fulham's midfield is thin of late. Damien Duff is unlikely to be available, as he missed the Chelsea match with a thigh injury. Ashkan Dejagah also will not be available, as he's out for the rest of the season (which obviously includes this game). It's gotten so bad that Fulham have recalled winger Alex Kacaniklic from Burnley, and while he's unlikely to start directly after coming from the Championship, that doesn't change the fact that the injuries have hurt Fulham.
On the other hand, it looks like Arsenal are relatively well off on the injury front. Lukasz Fabianski is still out with a rib injury suffered when he got kicked against Norwich City (good thing we protect 'keepers in this league!), so Wojciech Szczesny is almost definitely starting. Considering he's the number 1, that's not that big of a deal really, but Fabianski had earned his spot so it's unfortunate that he has (again) lost his chance to injury.
Aside from that, there's some tests, but for the most part people should be healthy. Tomas Rosicky is the biggest doubt, as he missed the Everton game, but along with Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, he will face a Friday fitness test. The others all should be okay, it sounds, but they're all important players and missing any of them would hurt.
While neither one is injured (for once), the result is that nobody has any idea who's going to start on the left side of the defense. Between Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal, Arsene Wenger has some decisions to make. With both playing pretty well, the dilemma is a good one to have, but it makes previewing games harder, and that's my main concern at the moment. Seeing as Wenger mentioned that Gibbs is a "candidate for higher up," I'd bet on him starting on the bench and Nacho on the pitch. Also, I hope that's who gets picked because I like to say "Nacho."
The most likely lineup is:
Sagna - Koscielny - Mertesacker - Nacho
Ramsey - Arteta
Walcott - Cazorla - Podolski
I guess? Honestly at this point it's hard to tell who Wenger does and doesn't like at any given time, and with a lot of players playing "adequately" to "well," there are a lot of options. I feel like it's been a while since this has been the case, but I've probably said that before, so I'll just be happy about it.
Prediction: It goes the way Fulham games usually do, and in the 89th minute it's tied 3-3. But Aaron Ramsey ain't about that life. Just before time, he scores, and there is much rejoicing, aside from among the world's despots. Fulham 3-4 Arsenal.