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Friday Fulham Stuff - 11/09/20...

Started by WhiteJC, September 10, 2020, 01:33:58 PM

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Fulham not finished in transfer market insists Scott Parker after Kenny Tete becomes fifth summer signing

Scott Parker says Fulham are still looking to press ahead in the transfer market after landing their fifth signing of the summer on Thursday.

The Cottagers have signed Dutch defender Kenny Tete from Lyon for a fee of around £3million on a four-year-deal and are set to announce the signing of former Chelsea defender Ola Aina.

Earlier in the window, Fulham added left-back Antonee Robinson, midfield duo Harrison Reed and Mario Lemina and then goalkeeper Alphonse Areola.

But Parker doesn't want to stop just yet, with a winger and perhaps another striker to support and compete with Aleksandar Mitrovic on his wishlist.

"We are hoping to do a few things," said Parker.

"There is no set number, there are areas of the team we need to improve, areas we need to evolve for their development and our development as a team we need people coming in to improve us.

"This is the world we live in, part and parcel of football you want to progress. If you can bring people in that you think can make you better, then you will do that."


Fulham v Arsenal
SAT 12 Sept 2020  Premier League
Venue: Craven Cottage

Fulham head coach Scott Parker made 368 Premier League appearances during his playing career

Head coach Scott Parker has reported no injury concerns ahead of Fulham's Premier League return, with loanee Alphonse Areola pushing for his debut.

Fellow summer arrival Mario Lemina could also make a first appearance.

Arsenal defender David Luiz has been ruled out for up to six weeks with a neck injury sustained in the Community Shield win against Liverpool.

He could be replaced at centre-back by £22m defender Gabriel, with Rob Holding also in contention.

The Cottagers must know most people think they will go straight back down, but their head coach Scott Parker can use that as a way of motivating them.

I just think Arsenal will be ready for them, though. For obvious reasons, it does not seem like very long at all since the Gunners won the FA Cup final.

Since then, they have won the Community Shield too, which is as competitive as it gets for a friendly. I'd expect them to be sharp.

Prediction: 0-2


    Fulham have lost their past five Premier League matches against Arsenal.
    They conceded nine goals in the two meetings during their most recent top-flight campaign in 2018-19.
    Arsenal's only defeat in the past 13 Premier League meetings was 2-1 at Craven Cottage in January 2012.
    The two sides have met once before on the opening day of a top-flight season, with the Gunners coming from behind to win 2-1 in 2007.


    The Championship play-off winners have avoided relegation in only 12 of the previous 28 Premier League seasons.
    Fulham finished 19th and were relegated in each of their last two Premier League seasons, in 2013-14 and 2018-19. They conceded the most goals in both of those campaigns.
    They have lost their opening game in successive seasons: 2-0 to Crystal Palace in 2018-19 and 1-0 against Barnsley last year.
    The Cottagers are currently on a top-flight record run of 10 successive London derby defeats.
    Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored 49 goals since making his Fulham debut in February 2018. Only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (54), Mo Salah (54) and Jamie Vardy (50) have scored more often in England's top four divisions during that period.
    Mitrovic scored five goals in Fulham's opening six Premier League matches of 2018-19, but managed just six in the following 31 games.


    Arsenal are aiming to win their opening match in consecutive seasons for the first time in 11 years.
    The Gunners are undefeated in all four of their previous opening Premier League matches versus newly-promoted opposition (W3, D1). Their last opening day league defeat against a promoted side was a 1-0 loss at Highbury to Bristol City in 1976.
    They have not lost any of their last 24 matches in the month of September in all competitions (W19, D5) since a 3-2 home defeat by Olympiakos in the Champions League in 2015.
    Arsenal have already won two trophies in their 29 matches under Mikel Arteta: the FA Cup and Community Shield.
    They scored 56 Premier League goals last season, their lowest total since 1995-96.
    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored 54 goals in 85 Premier League appearances since his debut in February 2018, a joint-league high during that period with Mo Salah.


The Premier League is back but the shadow of coronavirus looms large

Empty stadiums at matches due to the pandemic threatens to damage global appeal of England's top flight

On a bright lunchtime in early October 2018, Arsenal came to picturesque Craven Cottage. After their hosts Fulham had equalised through Andre Schurrle, a World Cup winner, the guests dazzled, winning 5-1. At the Bishop's Park End, supporters sang long and loud: 'We've got our Arsenal back!"

It was the sound of hope and optimism, qualities that in English football need only the lightest stimulation.

Since that day, Arsenal have changed manager twice and recorded their lowest finishing position in the table for a quarter of a century.

Fulham have been relegated and then promoted again. But when those two clubs meet on Saturday, at lunchtime at a Craven Cottage undergoing reconstruction but always picturesque, there will be optimism in abundance. Only it will be harder to hear it, with no fans in west London or in any ground.

Optimism will also be tempered. The 2020/21 Premier League season begins amid the usual patchwork of hopes – Can those Gunners really get their Arsenal back? Can Liverpool's remarkable momentum continue? How real is Manchester United's advance? – but beyond all that broader doubts over whether the Premier League can regain its status as the most admired and envied domestic competition anywhere.

Will the season even finish on time? The pandemic casts a long shadow. Three days before Fulham and Arsenal raise the curtain, new restrictions on gatherings of people in England have been imposed by a UK government fearful of rising numbers of Covid-19 infections. Cautious plans to have limited access to stadiums for paying fans in October are back under review.

The global appeal of English top-flight football – "our Hollywood," as one former UK foreign secretary described the great televised export that is the Premier League – has been partly built on the vibrant atmospheres of its stadiums. That, in turn, has nourished the league's financial muscle, the power to recruit so many of the world's leading players.

"We have to get fans back into stadiums," warns Richard Masters, CEO of the Premier League. "It's the big thing that's missing, economic or otherwise." Informed estimates have the Premier League £700 million (Dh3.4 billion) poorer if there are no crowds throughout 2020-21.

Other leagues face the same restrictions and will suffer financially from playing behind closed doors, and there remains envy from aboard towards a league that can still pack the mightiest punch in the transfer market.

It has a club, Chelsea, who can afford to poach two of the brightest talents from the Bundesliga, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner, for a combined £120m.

It still entices the best of Dutch football – Donny van de Beek, Ajax to Manchester United – the brightest starlet from Portugal – Fabio Silva, Porto to Wolves – and routinely plucks off young Spanish excellence from La Liga – Ferran Torres, Valencia to Manchester City.

Even vulnerable Fulham can still recruit World Cup winners. France goalkeeper Alphonse Areola has just joined them, on loan, from Paris Saint-Germain.

But the assumption that the Premier League will, by force of wealth and its vibrant football culture, gradually end up dominating Europe has suffered an abrupt check.

In the hurried end of last season, no English club reached the semi-finals of the Champions League. Only one, United, made it to the last four of the Europa League. Perhaps that was a blip, but in the short-term it was a very pronounced one.

In 2018-19, Liverpool and Spurs contested the Champions League final and Chelsea won the Europa League, beating the Arsenal whose fans had displayed such optimism at Craven Cottage eight months earlier.

This season, mastering the continental competitions will be made harder by a taxing domestic schedule.

The pandemic, and the late start to 2020-21, means the vigour and stamina demanded of Premier League players is unusually daunting. Midweeks are filled to bursting, what with two Cup tournaments to accommodate, and an international calendar that will extend into July with the finals of various major continental showpieces.

Yes, la Liga, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 – providers of the Europa League winners, Sevilla, and the two European Cup finalists, Bayern Munich and PSG, last month – also face condensed calendar. But they have given themselves a little more leeway by continuing to allow five, rather than three substitutions, per game. The Premier League goes back to the old normal, with a ceiling on three subs.

That may mean slightly fewer minutes for the up-and-coming would-be stars hoping that 2020-21 will be their breakthrough, for the next Mason Greenwood or Trent Alexander-Arnold to make an initial impact.

What can be relied on in the Premier League is that there are many fresh, young talents ready and waiting to thrive. The pity is that they cannot know when they will do so in front of the noisy, packed arenas that first made them fall in love with the great theatre of the Premier League.


Michael Owen states his prediction for Fulham v Arsenal
Michael Owen is backing Arsenal to secure a 3-1 win against Fulham on Saturday

Michael Owen is backing Arsenal to ease to a comfortable 3-1 win against Fulham in their Premier League curtain raiser at Craven Cottage on Saturday afternoon.

The Gunners will look to make a winning start to Mikel Arteta's first full season in charge of the north London side after the Spanish head coach was appointed as Unai Emery's replacement back in December.

Arteta led Arsenal to the FA Cup trophy thanks to a 2-1 win against Chelsea FC last season before the Gunners beat defending Premier League champions Liverpool FC on penalties in the Community Shield.

The north London side have signed Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes and Willian in the summer transfer window as well as making Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari's loan deals permanent.

Arsenal have managed to secure Dani Ceballos on a season-long loan from Real Madrid for a second successive Premier League campaign.

Fulham secured their return to the Premier League under Scott Parker thanks to their 2-1 victory over Brentford at Wembley.

Former Liverpool FC striker Owen is backing Arsenal to secure a comfortable win against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday afternoon.

"Scott Parker has done a superb job in getting Fulham back into the Premier League but of course, the real challenge is keeping them up and that will undoubtedly be the number one target for the Cottagers this season," Owen told BetVictor.

"Mikel Arteta has had a great start to his managerial career at Arsenal with a couple of trophies already in the bag courtesy of their FA Cup win just a few weeks ago and followed up with win over Liverpool in the Community Shield.

"I think they will have lofty ambitions for the upcoming season and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them pushing hard for a place in the top four come the end of the season.

"I fancy a comfortable 3-1 win for the Gunners in this one."

Arsenal have won their last five games against Fulham and the Cottagers haven't beaten their London rivals since a 2-1 victory at Craven Cottage back in 2012.

The Gunners will be looking to improve upon their eighth-placed finish in the Premier League table last season to secure a return to the Champions League under Arteta.

Arsenal will take part in the Europa League this season thanks to their FA Cup win.


Willian to wander in Grealish role as Arsenal take on Fulham in season opener? (+ Predicted/Preferred Lineups)

Willian as Grealish

I don't think that the first line up of the season is too tricky to guess.

It looks like Leno will start after the Martinez move.

It's unlikely that Saliba AND Gabriel start, so with many CB's out injured/just returning/about to be sold, its highly likely we go with Tierney.

The 3-4-3 has been the most successful formation recently and we are yet to sign the players or have them adapt yet to possibly be bolder. I would be bolder but I'm just an armchair coach.

So, if Tierney has to play at CB then Saliba is more likely to start as Tierney plays LCB like Gabriel. With Luiz out, Holding plays between them. Quite possibly why Holding hasn't moved yet, also.

With Tierney at LCB, then AMN will likely play LWB. If that has to happen then I'd imagine that Bellerin (unless he's got one foot out of the door), starts at RWB over Cedric.

I think this is logical so far. Hope so!

The midfield two would surely be Xhaka and Ceballos as ElNeny, as well as he played two weeks ago, is unlikely to break up a good partnership.

So we've got the first three layers without much fuss.

The forward line isn't so easy to predict.

Willian was brought in to unlock weaker teams. How will Fulham play? If they had a very excited promoted crowd, I'm sure they'd pour forward, as first game home energy is huge. They won't have this advantage though.

Will they park the bus?

If they do then Willian is needed.

We've realistically got 3 from 6.

Willian, Aubameyang, Lacazette , Nketiah, Saka and Pepe

If Lacazette has one eye on Southern Europe then Nketiah would start. It's very possible that Nketiah starts anyway based on Arteta's previous teams. Pepe and Aubameyang are the most likely to start due to form.

Here's what I think may well happen.

Willian will officially play left wing but have freedom to wander. The exact way Jack Grealish does at Villa. Helping out in midfield when three are needed. Roaming between the lines to connect, allowing AMN to go outside of him.

Staying wide to allow AMN to underlap.

This would of course see Aubameyang central. We haven't seen this yet under Arteta but maybe we do.

I like Aubameyang out wide as he is highly productive going forward and very efficient and committed defensively, but how do you fit our 'creator' into what I think is the short term formation unless Aubameyang is at CF? It could all be simpler than this with Willian on the right where he normally plays with Aubameyang on the left but.....

I just keep talking to myself. Telling myself that perhaps problem number 1 at Arsenal is not having a true creator in games we should win.

We sign one. We play a weaker team, so surely he starts.

This is my hunch for tomorrow.

This is what I'd do though

This is a version of a 4-2-3-1.

Martinez may have been sold by the time you read this but for a club who are needing to sell, I don't understand selling the goalkeeper who is at least equal quality, for £30M less than what you could get for the other.  So, I'm being stubborn and hoping (pretending) the story vanishes.

Pepe playing inside right, like Salah. Closer to goal. Allowing AMN the overlap. Saka's crossing ability wider left and Willian creating slot balls for Auba running behind.

After seeing the clip of Aubameyang's rasper in the secret Villa game and seeing Pepe, Lacazette and Willian in the picture when he scored, do we see this bolder 4-2-3-1?

Either way, I'm just a little excited.



Arsenal Look To Re-Eastblish Themselves as Road Warriors With Trip To Fulham – EPL Match Preview

The 2020-2021 season begins looking eerily similar to the end of last season without the presence of supporters in the stadiums. However, that fact hasn't dampened the spirits of the Arsenal faithful as the Gunners kick off their season away to Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Normally a tie resplendent with a cruise up the Thames by Arsenal supporters, the Gooners will have to be satisfied with watching the season kick off from the comfort of their own homes or various watch places.

Arsenal square off against newly promoted yo-yo club, Fulham. Fulham secured promotion through a dramatic playoff win and are looking to establish a foothold in the Premier League. Having Arsenal to play on opening day may not have been what they had in mind to get that idea started.

Much as they finished
The Arsenal squad that takes the pitch on Saturday may not be too dissimilar to the one that closed out last season a few short weeks ago. Sure, transfer business has been done, the most notable being the capture of Brazillian center back, Gabriel and the return of Dani Ceballos on a season long loan.

What hasn't occurred is outgoings. All of last year's faces are back with even outcasts getting a chance to re-establish themselves. Sure, by the time the window closes in October, that won't be the case but Gooners shouldn't be surprised when the team that takes the pitch on Saturday isn't that much different from last season.

That could also mean a return to three at the back. Though the lynchpin for that formation, David Luiz is facing a fitness test that should he fail would see him sidelined for quite possibly 4 weeks.

With Mustafi and Mari injured, joined possibly with Luiz, surely, we're likely to see either Saliba or Gabriel make their season/team debut alongside either Rob Holding or Sokratis. It's also quite possible that Areta with the injury situation and the "newness" of Gabriel and Saliba, reverts to four at the back with Holding and Sokratis along holding down the back line.

Building off of the FA Cup win
What we're all interested in seeing is if the FA Cup and even the Community Shield wins can be a catalyst for an Arsenal resurgence.

In 2014 after the dramatic FA Cup win, many hoped it would signal that Arsenal would build on that and challenge for titles. The season came and went and nothing. Same in 2015 and 2017.

Mikel Arteta has stressed the need to continue to build on this momentum from last season and use it to get back into the top 4 and competing for honors. It's a tall order for Arsenal considering their trajectory of the last few seasons. But Mikel Arteta not only has his players believing in his vision, the fan base is on board as well.

Still, belief is one thing, it's the actual doing it that matters. Belief can help. Football is after all, as they say, 90% mental. If you don't believe you can do something, then you won't.

Arteta has done wonders for changing the mindset of the club – in all areas – in such a short time that he could very well turn this club around this season. Still, it does seem the fan base is going to give him a wide berth and that's a good thing.

This turnaround is going to take time. It took Liverpool 5 years to get where they are now. We are half a year into fixing ourselves.

The squad under Arteta has taken some big steps forward and they need to continue to do so. They need to take the belief that came from winning the FA Cup and use it in a way that neither of the recent FA Cup winning teams did.

The good thing is they seem to have the right man at the helm to help them get there.

Improving Away Form
One of the key metrics we'll be using to see how this team has improved, is how the team does away from the Emirates. Under Emery for 18 months and under Wenger for the last season of his tenure the away form of this team was atrocious.

The improvements were modest since Arteta took over but they were there.

If Arsenal are going to mount any serious challenge than they have to be be more effective, especially against "lesser" teams on the road.

In the 2019-2020 season Arsenal managed a paltry 1.05 goals scored per game while conceding an average of 1.26 goal per game while playing away form the Emirates. The Gunners could only score 2 goals 5 times last season and managed 3 goals only once, also away from home.

Meanwhile, they conceded 2 goals 6 times away from home and 3 goals twice.

The away form of this team must improve dramatically if they are going to really push for the top four and beyond.

That has to start with this trip to Fulham where they can lay a marker for what kind of team they expect to be this season.

How the Match Should Play Out
Call it bias, call it eternal optimism but I do think Arsenal are going to come out firing and with a point to prove. They are likely more prepared to play than Fulham who haven't played nothing but friendlies. Arsenal for their part had the rigors of the Community Shield and Liverpool to deal with.

Arsenal should come into this match ready to play and Scott Parker's charges if they play opened up will be put to the sword early as Arsenal are going to look to establish possession and get the game going from the kick off.

Look for the Gunners to buck last season's away woes and stats and score 3 in this match as they take all 3 points and a clean sheet.

YAMA Predicts
Fulham 0 – 3 Arsenal

Arsenal Record vs Opponent (League Only)
20W 5D 3L

Match Officials
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Assistants: Daniel Cook, Sian Massey-Ellis
Fourth official: Kevin Friend
VAR: David Coote
Assistant VAR: Stephen Child.

Match Facts (courtesy

    Arsenal are aiming to win their opening match in consecutive seasons for the first time in 11 years.
    The Gunners are undefeated in all four of their previous opening Premier League matches versus newly-promoted opposition (W3, D1). Their last opening day league defeat against a promoted side was a 1-0 loss at Highbury to Bristol City in 1976.
    They have not lost any of their last 24 matches in the month of September in all competitions (W19, D5) since a 3-2 home defeat by Olympiakos in the Champions League in 2015.
    Arsenal have already won two trophies in their 29 matches under Mikel Arteta: the FA Cup and Community Shield.
    They scored 56 Premier League goals last season, their lowest total since 1995-96.
    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored 54 goals in 85 Premier League appearances since his debut in February 2018, a joint-league high during that period with Mo Salah.
    Fulham have lost their past five Premier League matches against Arsenal.
    They conceded nine goals in the two meetings during their most recent top-flight campaign in 2018-19.
    Arsenal's only defeat in the past 13 Premier League meetings was 2-1 at Craven Cottage in January 2012.
    The two sides have met once before on the opening day of a top-flight season, with the Gunners coming from behind to win 2-1 in 2007.


Dani Ceballos returns, Gabriel Magalhaes misses debut - Arsenal predicted team vs Fulham

Our writers give their thoughts on the Gunners team Mikel Arteta should pick vs Fulham

We're just a day away from Premier League football returning after a long su... oh wait. The summer wasn't even that long.

Just six weeks after lifting the FA Cup final on August 1, Arsenal begin their 2020/21 season with a trip to newly-promoted Fulham on Saturday [September 12].

Although an eighth place finish last year would have frustrated Mikel Arteta and his squad, they will be looking to build on the momentum formed in the side's FA Cup run and Community Shield victory.

Here, we ask our Arsenal writers how they would set up the team if they were in charge at Craven Cottage. Find out what they said below.

Art de Roche - Arsenal writer
Starting in goal, Mikel Arteta will have a great dilemma to solve as to whether Emi Martinez or Bernd Leno is to start. Both proved themselves to be exceptional options but Martinez's distribution gives him an edge on the German so he starts.

As for the shape of the team, the back three first used after the restart continued during pre-season and so will most likely be used at Fulham. William Saliba will take the right-sided role and with David Luiz dropping out, Rob Holding moves more central.

There may be expectations for a Gabriel Magalhaes debut but considering he joined the club just this month, throwing him for his full debut on the first day of an incredibly important season appears unlikely.

Kieran Tierney will continue as the left-sided centre-back with Ainsley Maitland-Niles at left wing-back, where he has excelled under Arteta in the FA Cup run as well as the Community Shield win over Liverpool.

Hector Bellerin will keep his place as the starting right wing-back as Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka reunite in midfield. Mohamed Elneny did impress in his time alongside the Swiss in pre-season but the partnership formed between Ceballos and Xhaka last season was the foundation for Arsenal to build on moving forward.

Bukayo Saka has had more game time in pre-season but with Arteta conscious of potentially 'burning out' his young talent, the 19-year-old may feature from the bench more often this season. As a result, Nicolas Pepe starts, but having returned in good form - for club and country - Eddie Nketiah will lead the line.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will keep his place on the left where he will continue to be the focal point of the side as captain.

Art de Roche's XI: Martinez; Saliba, Holding, Tierney; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles, Pepe, Nketiah, Aubameyang

Tashan Deniran-Alleyne - Live writer and Arsenal fan
It may be the opening game of the new season, but Mikel Arteta has some important decisions to make with his Arsenal team selection vs Fulham.

The first of which is who starts in goal. Emiliano Martinez was superb after lockdown last season, but I think Bernd Leno will get the nod at Craven Cottage which will result in the Argentine leaving the club.

David Luiz's injury means one of William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes will make their Gunners debut. Given the Frenchman has played alongside Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney in a pre-season friendly, I would expect him to start in a back three.

Dani Ceballos' return means the midfield four can be unchanged from the FA Cup final win over Chelsea.

As Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe are probably short of fitness, Bukayo Saka and the in-form Eddie Nketiah are well placed to partner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in attack.

Tashan Deniran-Alleyne's XI: Leno; Saliba, Holding, Tierney; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Saka, Nketiah, Aubameyang