Eight wins on the bounce.
Unai Emery nominated for Manager of the Month for September.
Alexandre Lacazette nominated for Goal and Player of the Month.
Things are looking decidedly rosy for Arsenal right now, and we travel the short distance to Craven Cottage to take on Fulham on a real crest of a wave.
Optimism is unavoidable, but there are still reasons to be cautious.
Firstly, we have won only one of the last eight away London derbies.
Secondly, in Alexander Mitrovic they have a striker that is scoring goals for a Fulham side that is attack-heavy but ultimately struggling in their first season back in the Premier League. With Andre Schurrle and Luciano Vietto, The Cottagers will pose problems to the majority of teams they face, but the key for the Gunners is;
Fulham can’t cause problems if they are defending.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returns from his recent bout of illness and will be available for selection. In terms of form, the Gabon striker would normally be left out in favour of the red-hot boots of Frenchman Alexandre Lacazette, but no one changes a winning team, and we have been winning with both in the team. Plus, Emery will be aware that the partnership between the two is beginning to bud. Most likely both will start.
Aaron Ramsey is another who is viable for a return after missing the midweek win over Qarabag. the question is will the Welshman get back in the side? The aforementioned rule of not changing a winning side should keep him in the eleven, but in our win over Watford last week, the pivotal moment was when Ramsey was replaced by Alex iwobi, and the Nigerian has been in imperious form.
In terms of injuries, Konstandinos Mavropanos, Laurent Koscielny, Petr Cech and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are still all out, but Sokratis is back, and the defence should be unchanged from last week’s win over the Hornets.
What of Fulham? Despite some impressive performances, the Cottagers have struggled in terms of position. They currently sit just outside the relegation zone thanks to goal difference, and their last game was a humbling loss to Everton.
They have been playing well in patches though, and Vietto, Schurrle, Seri and Mitrovic have been shrewd purchases. Boss Slavisa Jokanovic should have enough in his squad to keep them safe, but they must start winning, and soon.
One change could see Tom Cairney come back into the side, for a more balanced side, with one of their star-studded attacking players sitting on the bench. A packed midfield may just keep the marauding Gunners at bay.
How will the game go?
Tough to call, but all form books would suggest an away win. Fulham have been on a bit of a slide, and Arsenal have won every single game put in front of them since the narrow 3-2 loss to Chelsea back in August.
However, only Eden Hazard has scored more goals thus far than Alexander Mitrovic, and the Serbian is a real firebrand, putting himself about with real effectiveness. Sokratis needs to keep a close eye on Rob Holding, although the young England defender’s handling of other similiar strikers, such as Diego Costa, means that he has more than enough in his locker to deal with him.
Schurrle’s off the ball running is a concern too. The German is schooled in the Premier League, and it is his running that works the space for him and his cohorts. If our midfield doesn’t track him, we could become stretched.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be crucial here. His drifting from out wide may just cause problems to the attack-minded Ryan Sessegnon, who we could leave stranded with a rapid attack.
That is our opening. Stretch them and move quickly, we should get get enough openings to punish them.