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EPL Preview: Predicting the Arsenal Starting XI vs. Fulham

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EPL Preview: Predicting the Arsenal Starting XI vs. Fulham
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Arsenal will aim to secure their 11th win in 13 games and their sixth consecutive English Premier League victory when they take on Fulham Saturday at the Emirates.

The match follows an emphatic 2-1 victory over German champions Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League which confirmed the Gunners' place in the next round of Europe's most prestigious competition.

Arsene Wenger's men have been in blistering form since October and have revitalized their campaign after a horrific start to 2011/2012. The names Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri are no longer taunts, with Arsenal well on track to secure a top-four finish.

However, London neighbours Fulham will provide a stern test for the North London giants despite the Cottagers' lack of form. Martin Jol's men sit 16th, two points outside the drop zone, with a mere two victories; however the Cottagers have endured five draws.

Fulham have lacked consistency since the season began but have at times showed a fluent attack that is capable of scoring many goals. Jol's men thrashed six past the impressive Queens Park Rangers whilst also holding top of the table Manchester City to a two-all draw.

Nonetheless they encounter a confident Arsenal side who are led by arguably the best player in World Football at the moment, Robin van Persie.

The Dutchman boasts 38 goals in 41 appearances for 2011. The Gunners appear to have fluidity in attack and for once composure and consistency in defence.

There is certainly a newfound patience and resilience about Wenger's squad and there is no denying the new maturity that is so evident in their recent performances. It is hard to envision anything less than an Arsenal win.

 

 

 

Goalkeeper

Polish keeper Wojcieh Szczesny has enjoyed fine form in 2011 and is certain to start against the Cottagers. However deputy Lukasz Fabianski is certain to feature in the Carling Cup quarterfinal against Manchester City next week. Nonetheless the Polish international will deputize come the weekend.

Veteran Manuel Almunia and Italian youngster Vito Mannone await January for the opportunity to depart and take up a loan deal.

 

Defence

Arsene Wenger is still faced with a right back dilemma as routine full backs Bacary Sagna and Carl Jenkinson are both nursing injuries. French international Laurent Koscielny has impressed at right back in Arsenal's last two matches and is likely to continue the run.

This ensures defensive leader Thomas Vermaelen continues as always in the centre half and will be partnered by under-fire German Per Mertesacker. Imposing Swiss Johan Djourou is likely to receive a bench role.

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England international Kieran Gibbs is expected to return from a hernia in a month which ensures Brazilian international Andre Santos will continue at left back. French veteran Sebastien Squillaci and Spanish teenager Igansi Miquel are unlikely to feature but are set to play in the Carling Cup on Tuesday.

 

 

 

Midfield

Arsene Wenger is likely to deploy the same trio that performed against Dortmund and Norwich City, despite chances of fatigue. With the Carling Cup next week, young guns Francis Coquelin and Emmanuel Frimpong will receive chances alongside Israeli captain Yossi Benayoun.

This ensures Wales captain Aaron Ramsey and Spanish playmaker Mikel Arteta will start as the attacking midfielders, with Alexandre Song as always the defensive midfielder and leader.

However, imposing Frenchman Abou Diaby could start ahead of Arteta; the 25-year-old made his comeback from a lengthy ankle injury against Dortmund.

Czech pla maker Tomas Rosicky has suffered a thigh strain and is unlikely to feature whilst the 2010/2011 PFA Young Player of the Year Jack Wilshere continues his recovery from an ankle injury.

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Forwards

Arsenal captain Robin van Persie just cannot stop scoring and the Dutchman will be the key to a Gunners' victory. Van Persie will lead the front line as the lone striker and don the armband too.

England international Theo Walcott has been in blistering form in recent weeks and is certain to start on the right wing.

Russian dynamo Andrei Arshavin is set to start ahead of Gervinho on the left wing as the Ivorian receives a deserved break. Imposing Moroccan Marouane Chamakh will deputize van Persie from the bench but is likely to start against City in the Carling Cup.

South Korean captain Chu-Young Park is set to miss out on the matchday squad but is also likely to start against Manchester City.

The same can be said for teenage sensation Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Japanese teenager Ryo Miyaichi has an ankle injury and is set to return in December whilst English youngster Sanchez Watt has joined League One side Sheffield Wednesday.

 

Substitutes

With seven places on Arsene Wenger's bench, Lukasz Fabianski will be the emergency keeper whilst Johan Djourou is the likely emergency defender. Emmanuel Frimpong, Abou Diaby and Yossi Benayoun are set to be the midfield substitutes whilst Marouane Camakh and Gervinho impact attackers.

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