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Arsenal vs. Fulham: Match Preview

August matches are like buses. You wait all summer for one, then a bunch of them arrive all at once.

In case you weren't aware, there really is a Craven Cottage.
In case you weren't aware, there really is a Craven Cottage.
Jordan Mansfield

Fulham v. Arsenal
English Premier League
Saturday, 24 August 2013
4.45AM PT/7.45AM ET/11.45AM BT
Craven Cottage, Putney Bridge underground, just past Bishops Park, SW6 6HH, London

Hard on the heels of Wednesday's trip to Turkey, Arsenal stay closer to home this weekend, top up their Oyster cards, and get on the Underground for the 30 minute journey down to Craven Cottage, where Fulham awaits, well-rested after their Opening Day win at Sunderland.

With such a thin squad and a very short turnaround time, there's not a whole lot to say about this game, lineup- or tactic-wise, that we didn't see Wednesday; Kos is out, Flamini won't be signed in time for the game, and otherwise it's more or less status quo. Arsenal don't have a lot of options right now, so what you saw Wednesday is likely what you'll get Saturday.

Fulham, as you'll discover if you read the Three Questions we posted earlier, is trying to shore up a leaky defense this season, and in a blatant case of Small Sample Size Theater, it's working a treat!  They kept a clean sheet at Sunderland, which is no mean feat for a team that conceded 60 goals last term; Martin Jol brought in a new keeper and a couple defensive reinforcements to help stop the rot.  With a strike force that includes Dimitar Berbatov, Fulham's improved defending, should it continue, should see them establish themselves safely mid-table this year.

If Arsenal play like they did Wednesday, this game should be pretty straightforward; even with an improving defense, Arsenal on their day have enough power up front to score a few goals.  The question is, can Arsenal stay focused enough at the back to stop Fulham from doing the same?

PREDICTED LINEUP: Szczesny; Jenkinson, Sagna, Mertesacker, Gibbs; Ramsey, Wilshere: Walcott, Rosicky, Cazorla; Giroud.

FEARLESS PREDICTION: something something Michael Jackson statue something something Arsenal win.