Arsenal kick off their 2020-21 Premier League campaign tomorrow with a trip down the road to Craven Cottage to face Fulham. The newly-promoted Cottagers will be looking to get their second return to the Premier League in three seasons off to a good start; the last time they were up they went right back down.
Scott Parker has his work cut out for him to keep his side up. They have the second-worst odds to survive, behind only West Bromwich Albion. From our Q&A with Cottagers Confidential, we know that Fulham like to shoot from distance, which honestly, I’m fine with. Shots from outside the box are low value, and for a team like Arsenal that want to have the ball and build from the back, getting goal kicks from missed long shots works. The Gunners will need to keep an eye on Aleksander Mitrovic, who scored 26 goals in the Championship last season after getting 11 in the Premier League the season before with Newcastle. Fortunately, both Rob Holding and William Saliba (projected to start), can handle physical strikers pretty well.
On the Arsenal side of things, Mikel Arteta’s squad needs to be at Fulham from the opening whistle. Don’t give them time to grow into the match. Score early so that they can’t sit back. Arsenal need to take more points from the minnows this season, and getting early goals is a good way to do that. The Gunners struggled to create chances last year, especially against teams that put 9 and 10 men behind the ball. Early goals force teams out of their shells. Last season, Arsenal took 12 of 18 points from the bottom 3. That number needs to be 15+, and it starts tomorrow.
Fulham have no injuries to start the season. Arsenal on the other hand very much do. The Gunners’ centerback core is the walking wounded. David Luiz is out with a neck injury. Sokratis is out with a calf problem. Shkodran Mustafi, Pablo Mari, and Calum Chambers are all out long-term. Gabriel Martinelli is also out until December; he’s recovering from a meniscus tear. The absences mean that William Saliba will likely get his first Premier League start with Rob Holding next to him. Check out Nathan’s predicted 11 for the full projected lineup.
I’ve stayed away from scoreline predictions in the past (but I’m not sure why). I’d like to do them this season.
Prediction: Arsenal 3 - Fulham 1
A brace from Aubameyang, Nketiah gets one, and Mitrovic scores for Fulham.
WHAT: Arsenal at Fulham
WHERE: Craven Cottage
WHEN: Saturday, September 12th 4:30 AM PT | 7:30 AM ET | 12:30 PM BT
US TV: NBCSN and Universo (SP). Stream available from fuboTV ($)
Because it is being televised, the match will NOT be live on Peacock, NBC’s new streaming service. All televised matches will be available for replay at 9 PM the evening of the match.
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