A Chance for Arsenal to Close the Gap on Spurs: Fulham Preview & Predicted Line-Up

Limbering up for the visit of Fulham

After the heroics in Prague we entertain Fulham at the Emirates today in an early kick-off and we’re likely to see some squad rotation.

The calendar is kind to us in the immediate future (we don’t play again until Everton’s visit on Friday evening, then have six days before the first leg of the Europa League semi final in Spain). Even so, there must be some tired legs from last Thursday and Mikel Arteta will want to protect his star assets.

The real need for rotation will come after the first game against Villareal, when we have only 43 hours before we take the field at Newcastle unless the fixture gets moved.

Team news is that Tierney will be out for some time (I don’t think we’ll see him again this season); Luiz is still a few weeks away following ‘a small procedure’ on his knee; Aubameyang remains unavailable because of malaria and Odegaard’s ankle problem keeps him out, although he may be ready for the first Villareal game.

It will be interesting to see if El Patron persists with Xhaka at left back and Chambers at right. I suspect Xhaka will play but this may be a fixture where Arteta lets Bellerin have a rare run out.

Ceballos’s last two outings have been a refreshing change from his poor form prior to that and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him and Partey get another run out in midfield.

I would be tempted to rest Smith Rowe, but with Odegaard out we are short of options in the central attacking midfield role so the Croydon De Bruyne may get another start.

It seems like a game where Martinelli could (and should) get a run out from the first whistle, but knowing Arteta I expect to see the older, more frustrating Brazilian get the nod.

Our opponents have had a disappointing season. We hammered them in the first game of the season – a game which, with hindsight, was remarkable for the fact that Willian looked like a great player and had three assist. Little did we know then that that was the last we would see of ‘good’ Willian.

The Cottagers started the season with four straight defeats then managed to steady the ship a little with a run of draws intermingled with defeats and the occasional win, but just lately their form has plummeted again. They have lost their last four games – all against teams in the top half of the table – scoring two and conceding nine.

On paper you would expect us to win this one and close the gap on the N17 degenerates to just two points. Europa League glory is obviously the big target left for us in this campaign, but finishing above the noisy neighbours would be amusing given how generally poor our season has been.

Here’s my guess at the starting team:


Bellerin – Holding – Gabriel – Xhaka

Partey – Ceballos

Willian – Smith Rowe – Pepe


Let’s hope there’s no post-Europa hangover and we pick up where we left off against Prague and Sheffield United.

Come On You Gunners.



72 Responses to A Chance for Arsenal to Close the Gap on Spurs: Fulham Preview & Predicted Line-Up

  1. […] A Chance for Arsenal to Close the Gap on Spurs: Fulham Preview & Predicted Line-Up […]

  2. LBG says:

    What about Chambers in that central holding position with Elneny ( or even Azeez).
    And surely a dynamic, bustling striker in Balogun to start and show us what he,’s got.

  3. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Rocky. I genuinely believe we are hitting a 4 to 5 game period where we need to protect certain players from burn out that makes injury more likely while still keeping them sharp and match fit.

    That means some minutes in games for more vital players to keep them sharp but everything needs to be geared to having our strongest possible team for the EL semi double leg. We cant protect everyone but as many as possible.

    There are some obvious candidates for wrapping in cotton wool but some others that have become very important to us this season like Holding, Xhaka and Lacazette.

    Luiz, Tierney, Odegaard and Aubameyang aren’t available anyway. Although I championed the 4-3-3 variant formation I think it might be time to alter that temporarily to rest the right players but still have a balanced and strong line up. Today I would go for:

    ————————- Ryan
    ——–Chambers ——- Mari ——– Gabriel
    Bellerin —— Azeez ——- Elneny ——— Soares
    ————– Pepe —————– Willian
    ————————- Ballogun

  4. Rasp says:

    Thanks Rocky, I’m not a fan of the early kick off … but we could be within 2 points off the totts by 3:30 … so for the sake of momentum and to restore the proper order in north London I hope Mikel starts with as close to the team that played SP as possible.

    I know the manager’s handbook says start with a slightly weaker team (that should win) and bring on the top players from the bench if needed … but I always think, start with your best eleven and then rest key players if we are goals up and running the game.

  5. RockyLives says:

    Bellerin – Holding – Gabriel – Xhaka
    Elneny – Ceballos
    Saka – Smith Rowe – Martinelli

  6. RockyLives says:

    Apologies – it’s RYAN in goal, not Leno

  7. RockyLives says:

    A start for Martinelli – excellent! Well done Mikel for not taking the ‘safe’ option of using Willian. This could be a big day for Martinelli and I expect him to get on the score sheet.

  8. RockyLives says:

    Ryan in goal is a surprise but it’s a sensible move. We need him to be ready and confident in the event of Leno getting injured between now and the end of the season.

    I love that our killer triangle of Saka-ESR-Laca is getting another run out.

  9. LBG says:

    Who cares about Paul Pogba and Manure! Our game is first, idiots!

  10. Rasp says:

    Thanks for the team news. I see the midfield as our area of concern … and if that doesn’t work everything else suffers. Good thing is that with Ryan in goal and Martinelli up front we have more chance of capitalising on long balls and goal kicks

  11. LB says:

    He’s finally done it, at last, the dream attack.

  12. LBG says:

    Feel sorry for Nelson and for that matter Balogun ( not even on the bench). If we get it done quickly, a few could get a run out for experience.
    Glad Ryan is in. I think he is better than some think.

  13. VP says:

    I’m off the view that the more you play/run, the fitter faster and better you get. So the team should be all good to go as long they got a good nights sleep the night before the game they should be all fired up and goals goals goals and clean sheet. COYG!

  14. LBG says:

    Two good good chances for Martinelli ( Ceballos).
    Still disappointed that Bellerin and Xhaka always turn inside for their pass. Illustrates perfectly how important Tierney is to us and how we need a true attacking ( and defending) right back.

  15. RockyLives says:

    They put in a cross and I was shocked to see our keeper do the simple, sensible thing – ie catch it instead of punching… then realised it was Ryan and not Leno

  16. LBG says:

    Rasp has it spot on. The gaps appear in our central midfield because Dani is a (slow) wanderer and Elneny is not told to hold. Chambers would be a much tighter option.

  17. LBG says:

    25 mins and we should be ahead. Pace too slow. Get the goals and drop their heads, Gunners.

  18. RockyLives says:

    I’d like to see Chambo given a chance at DM but Mikel seems to have no interest in trying him there.

  19. RockyLives says:

    Bellerin looking like a weak link. He’s obviously rusty and has given the ball away several times.

  20. LBG says:

    A pull back is a foul. There is nothing in the rules about “not enough for a foul”.

  21. fred1266 says:

    Seem UK and Trinidad have the same program, was wondering why day interviewing pogba

  22. fred1266 says:

    Can we please stop talking about goalkeeper just makes me get made about the whole emi sale over again

  23. RockyLives says:

    Haha – sorry Fred

  24. LBG says:

    Sorry, this is the usual Sunday hangover and summed up as TOO SLOW. And that Xhaka free kick sums it up……and then……DAAAAANI

  25. fred1266 says:

    All who doubting my boy bellerin beautiful cross

  26. fred1266 says:

    The ball came nowhere near to saka wtf

  27. LBG says:

    F****** joke.

  28. RockyLives says:

    I’d love to know what our VAR for-and-against tally is.

    My subjective heart tells me it’s about three to one against us.

    But maybe that’s how all teams’ supporters feel.

  29. LBG says:

    “Your boy” Bellerin is a liability.

  30. fred1266 says:

    I watch every prem games and to be fair day arr consistent with that call, last one happened was wolves last week Fridays with podence getting a similar call

  31. LBG says:

    Cant argue with consistency Fred. It’s the rules that are crap!
    Come on Gunners, get your fingers out. Two goals in first ten minutes and it will ( may) be over.

  32. fred1266 says:

    The the rules are crap, especially the hand ball rule

  33. LBG says:

    Can argue with consistency and with my desire that we never play in Europa League again. Football is a joke at present. The laws and VAR are a joke as are referees.
    Discipline and structure now needed, not headless chickens.

  34. RockyLives says:

    Time for Partey?

  35. Rasp says:

    Bellerin is performing like a player who’s leaving in the summer. We could do with a slice of luck here

  36. RockyLives says:

    Pepe and Partey should give us a lift.

    Bellerin has played himself out of contention for the EL games .

  37. LBG says:

    It’s like Sunday comes and they inject them all with some kind of “crap” inducing drug, just to punish us.

  38. LBG says:

    So Fulham never won away against us….that was a good stat to begin the game.
    No shape, get the ball down and play dynamic football. Some chance. Another great opportunity for a post match report!! Coaching/ timeout /time on at end Pawson. No chance.
    Sorry, nothing more from me!

  39. RockyLives says:

    We haven’t been terrible, just lacklustre.

    Fulham had a penalty (really a dive) and one attempt on target.

    We can still get something here. Fulham are going to get more and more nervous.

  40. RockyLives says:

    Eddie’s had two excellent opportunities and both time his first touch has been awful.

    You can see why he has fallen out of the starting rotation.

  41. oz gunner says:

    I guess we need a EL win then.

    Toothless against a team in the relegation zone.

  42. Rasp says:

    By now you’d have thought that we could have miskicked it into the net? So frustrating 😡

  43. fred1266 says:

    As soon as I saw Eddie come on I know he wouldn’t contribute much, ever since year he returned from Leeds I realized he was good enough

  44. Rasp says:

    Bang goes our last albeit remote chance of getting into Europe from our league position

  45. Rasp says:

    Keep dissing our players Fred if that is the result 😅

  46. Gööner In Exile says:

    So impressed with the desire of Saka, ESR, Martinelli and Ryan to get the equaliser. That kind of mentality is infectious and you saw how other players were lifted to join in. Even after the equaliser we were hurrying to get a winner.

    And I said it after Thursday Saka is truly exceptional talent.

  47. RockyLives says:

    At least we battled to avoid the embarrassment of a home defeat to a relegation bound team.

    Not a great performance but not the worst either.

  48. Gööner In Exile says:

    PS Sakas toe being offside in first half is an absolute joke

  49. fred1266 says:

    the rules are such crap

    my personal

    the equalizing goal is more offside that the one given in the first half

  50. Aaron says:

    Taped the game as I did not want to get up so early to watch this match.

    So, gonna arm chair this one to the max!

    WTH! Why, why, why does Mikel insist on tinkering with the back line?

    Damn it, he pisses me off. What Mari, Holding and Chambers can’t play 2 games in a row together? They are in the red zone, while ESR and Saka play darn near every game.

    Gabriel got the guys laces and we give up a penalty.

    El Neny brings NOTHING going forward EVER!

    My eye test was confirmed on his heat map and passing statistics for forward ball progression, he did NOT move the ball forward.

    Laca now out, and do not know if he will be ready for Villarreal. If anyone needed to be rotated it was Xhaka and the forward line.

    Mikel, big hint bro, do not play El Neny and Dani together ever, you will have the slowest recovery pace, no defensive cohesion, and almost zero forward ball progression.

    1 step forward 1.5 steps back.

    Lastly, long time AFC fan, however if they go to the super league and leave the EPL, I am out, will find another hobby to indulge myself in.

  51. Aaron says:

    Oh, and vaR is $h*te, it is ruining the game.
    AFC players toe offside, leaning back away from goal, but Fulham’s player hand was offside, player leaning toward goal, bunch of rejects up top deciding the outcome of games.

    Just scrap this turd, with it’s $3 technology camera angles, could do better with high school trigonometry to figure out if a player is offside without a camera, hurry up with Arsene’s plan and move forward with goals!

  52. fred1266 says:

    Yea apparently the technology not available for hands being offside cause dey can’t draw a straight line cause it to high,

    Something so I hearrd them mentioning the other day

  53. fred1266 says:

  54. Gööner In Exile says:

    A hand can’t be offside because you cannot play the ball with your hand. So irrelevant whether they can measure or not.

  55. Aaron says:

    But GIE, you can, if ball comes off hand in natural position, it will not be called handball, and goal can be counted.

  56. fatgingergooner says:

    Absolutely disgusted with Arsenal Football club if this is true. Can’t say I’m surprised though. All about money. Get these money grabbing tossers out of football.

  57. Gööner In Exile says:

    Aaron FA Laws say otherwise:

    It is an offence if a player:
    deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, including moving the hand/arm towards the ball
    scores in the opponents’ goal directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental, including by the goalkeeper
    after the ball has touched their or a team-mate’s hand/arm, even if accidental, immediately:
    scores in the opponents’ goal
    creates a goal-scoring opportunity
    touches the ball with their hand/arm when:
    the hand/arm has made their body unnaturally bigger
    the hand/arm is above/beyond their shoulder level (unless the player deliberately plays the ball which then touches their hand/arm

  58. Aaron says:

    I said hand in natural position, not deliberate, and Saka was not the one who scored the goal nor Bel, 2X removed.

  59. Gööner In Exile says:

    FGG I Can’t help thinking the “prestige clubs” want a bigger share of the prize fund, in a similar way to Ferrari getting more money than every other FIA team.

    If they threaten to form this Super League that takes money away from CL and UEFA as that competition becomes less marketable.

  60. Gööner In Exile says:

    Think it would be covered by creating goal scoring opportunity even if accidental.

    But I guess until it gets tested the law won’t change 🙂

  61. Aaron says:

    Actually think you are right in principle and letter of the law really.

    Just that vaR, as it stands, is not an improvement to the game.

    Of course stan the maN will take the $, and AFC would be at the bottom of that “super league” every year without fail, and the fans would get fleeced gleefully.

  62. fred1266 says:

    Yes GIE think dey will make that next season, what also listening American commentating of the city game and day said premier league has one of the the worst set of off side rules

  63. fatgingergooner says:


    I find the timing of this new ‘Super League announcement’ interesting…just as UEFA are about to confirm CL changes. Wouldn’t surprise me if these clubs are just using this as a way of getting what they want from UEFA in the CL reform.

    If it is true and they are chasing the money then football has fully gone down the route it started on when Chelsea were bought out by Abramovich. Can the FA complain that much after letting all these money men buy the clubs? I don’t think so.

  64. RockyLives says:

    “Can the FA complain that much after letting all these money men buy the clubs? I don’t think so.”

    Spot on.

  65. allezkev says:

    That Lacazette hamstring looked a three week job to me, hope I’m wrong, but I guess he’ll miss both EL semi final games, so unless Aubameyang makes a quick recovery and as I know nothing about malaria and what the after effects are so that could mean anything, then we’re banking our season on Martinelli, Nketiah and Balogun.
    Good luck to the kids…

  66. Aaron says:

    The fA was “in on it” from the get go!

  67. Gööner In Exile says:

    So the details have been announced:

    20 teams (12 named plus 3 they expect to name, plus 5 from performance in their league)

    2 groups of ten, 18 games each (home and away)

    Top 3 qualify for QF, with play off between 4th and 5th for the final two berths

    QF and SF will be 2 legs, final 1 game neutral venue.

    So basically Champions League without so many “minnows” and different group strategy.

    I know we won’t like Arsenal for being part of it, but bearing in mind 6 teams have signed up from EPL it was probably a case of be in it or become a forgotten club.

  68. LBG says:

    Even if it doesn’t go ahead, it has made my mind up for me. I will not be renewing my season ticket next year, and as a family we will not be represented at the Home of Football for the first time since 1958.
    Arsenal and football has always been my love. You would imagine, as we come out of a period in history as dramatic as the last two years, that there might be an adjustment in priorities.
    What and who matters, what is important, and how we should plan for the future of our children and grandchildren.
    Football has been corrupted to the core for a long time by money. But its innate beauty still managed to shine through occasionally.Now its God is ready to take over and rule absolutely.
    I will always “follow” my Club, will always have an “Arsenal room” in my house, but enough is enough for me

  69. Gööner In Exile says:

    That is very sad LBG, but I understand why. For me football was always about the experience on match days, going to games with friends, a couple of beers, a good sing and chant. Always something quite reaffirming about being surrounded by 40000 other people wanting the same as you.

    Over the last decade or two that has changed, fans have become entitled and maybe they should as they have become treated like consumers/customers, clubs are businesses, players are commodities. And as you say whilst we still support Arsenal and always will it is very difficult to feel as connected as we used to.

  70. Gööner In Exile says:

    The real test of this ESL is UEFA, FIFA and local Associations banning the clubs and players that take part from being able to compete in their tournaments.

    If a football tournament is not sanctioned by any of the above then surely they are free to use their own rules. No one owns the game of football but they can regulate their competitions.

    Also if FIFA, UEFA and the FA take the steps they have suggested surely it weakens their own competitions, is the money there for the Premier League if the talent isn’t. I would suggest The Premier League will not want to oust the 6 English teams from the league, their product is significantly weaker and TV companies may have the right to dispute the contracts in place as the product available has been massively altered.

    The clubs have held the power for so long the Champions League and two, three then four berths for the big leagues was the beginning of the end for their power, they have always bowed to the clubs.

    Even the PL was originally a breakaway that the FA didn’t want eventually had to accept and give more and more power to.

  71. LBG says:

    Now that’s cheered me up. Moaninho sacked. Couldnt have happened to a nicer guy!😁

  72. RockyLives says:

    New Post

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