Feature

#FULARS: Five things to look out for

Five things

We’re looking to make it nine wins in a row on Sunday against Fulham, so what are the five key things you need to look out for? Read on to find out…

HOLDING’S HALF CENTURY

Rob Holding will be making his 50th appearance for us if he features against Fulham on Sunday.

The central defender has been in excellent form since coming into the side for the opening Europa League game against FC Vorskla. He has played in each of the last five games, most recently as part of a three-man defence against Qarabag. 

His Arsenal debut came at home to Liverpool in August 2016, and he won the FA Cup final against Chelsea on just his 18th outing in our colours. He played 26 times last season - scoring his only goal to date - and the 23-year-old has now made nearly twice as many appearances for us as he did for boyhood club Bolton Wanderers (30 games).


EARLY KICK-OFFS

This is our first midday kick-off of the season, and it isn't particularly well-timed - the side returned to north London in the small hours of Friday morning after a six-hour flight from Baku - the club's longest ever trip in European competition.

The last time we played at noon was on December 10, 2017 – a 1-1 draw away to Southampton, which came on the back of our 6-0 home win over BATE Borisov in the Europa League. We also played Brighton at home at midday in October last season, winning 2-0. 

In fact we have never lost a midday kick-off in Premier League history, winning 14 and drawing four of the 18 played at that time.

Some memorable high noon games include the win over Leicester City in February 2016 when Danny Welbeck netted a last-minute winner, and a 5-4 win away to Tottenham in November 2004.


FULHAM'S NEW PLAYERS

Having been promoted via the play-offs last season, Fulham set about reshaping their squad in the summer.

Michael Cox of zonalmarking.net believes manager Slavisa Jokanovic has assembled a squad that has a good chance of keeping Fulham in the top flight.

He said: "Fulham are technically excellent, and offer genuine excitement going forward. The counter-attacking speed of Luciano Vietto, Andre Schurrle and Ryan Sessegnon, in particular, could cause problems, while new midfield partnership Zambo Anguisse and Jean-Michael Serri should be capable of competing against the Premier League’s best."

Meanwhile their star of the second half of last season is back on loan from Newcastle, and looking dangerous once again up front.

"Only Eden Hazard has scored more goals than Aleksandar Mitrovic so far this season,” Cox said. “A classic penalty-box striker who has consistently caused problems with his aerial power, Mitrovic transformed Fulham from a pretty side to an effective one upon his arrival in January, and has continued his good form in the Premier League.”

Mitrovic

CONSECUTIVE WINS

We are on a five-game winning streak in the Premier League coming into the game, and an eight-game run in all competitions. 

Victory over Fulham would make it six on the spin in the league for the first time since May to September 2017. The last time we won nine consecutively in all competitions was March/April 2015. Just as encouragingly, we have now kept three clean sheets in the last four games, and scored at least twice in every game since our opening-day defeat to Manchester City.

Playing every three days or so for the past few weeks doesn't seem to have had an adverse effect on the team's physical condition, rather they have been able to build up some impressive momentum, with confidence growing by the game.

We will be hoping for more of the same this weekend, but there will be one difference about the look of the team. For the first time this season Unai Emery's side will not be taking to the field in red and white, as the dark blue away strip gets its debut airing.

Arsenal celebrate

GOALS, RED CARDS AND A WINNER

We've scored in every Premier League away game since drawing a blank at Wembley Stadium against Tottenham in February, that's a run of eight consecutive games. In contrast Fulham are one of only two teams yet to keep a Premier League clean sheet this season (with Brighton). In fact, the Cottagers haven't kept out the opposition in a home Premier League London derby for seven years - since beating QPR in October 2011.

But they pose a goalscoring threat at the other end of the pitch. Mitrovic has scored nine goals in his last 11 league appearances for Fulham at Craven Cottage, and he netted a last-minute equaliser against us for Anderlecht in the 2014/15 Champions League (though he was sent off the next time he faced us, while in Newcastle colours).

On the subject of dismissals, this fixture in south London has seen four red cards shown in the past four meetings - two for each side. 

Finally, the trends suggest that we will have a winner this weekend. We haven't drawn in the league since the very first game of 2018 - 2-2 at home to Chelsea – that's 23 games without a stalemate in the competition.