After the clubs most disappointing defeat of the season last time out away to Everton, the squad return back to Craven Cottage for the visit of Unai Emery’s much improved Arsenal side. With seven wins on the spin in all competitions, the Whites will have to be at their best to prevent it becoming number eight.
The manner of defeat on Saturday was the most disappointing, succumbing in the second half to the Toffees after being largely on top in the opening period. Mitrovic and Schurrle both missed presentable opportunities, but the best chance of all fell at the feet of Sessegnon, who should have finished off a flowing team move but instead hit the bar from very close in.
Instead of kicking on in the second half, Everton were allowed to get a stranglehold in the game, and Fulham were lucky to not concede as Sigurdsson missed his spot kick after a shove in the box from Odoi.
However, just four minutes later he did get on the scoresheet, curling in from the edge of the box into the bottom corner after a poor clearance from the Fulham back line. Further goals from Tosun and another for Sigurdsson underlined the clubs defensive issues, and to not score against a side that had yet to keep a clean sheet added further salt to the wounds.
The manager spoke out about the average start to this campaign, saying that “we are in a growing up process but must adapt quickly and fight like it’s the last second in our life” or the club will pay an “expensive price.” This is evident by the clubs perilous position just one place above the drop, but it must be remembered that one win would move them up to 12th.
Looking ahead, Sunday lunchtime is another chance to see whether Jokanovic can adapt his tactics to suit the opposition he is up against. A high press may be effective against an Arsenal back line that are being moulded to play out from the back, but are not yet one hundred percent comfortable with the ball at their feet.
Emery has found a system that allows for Aubameyang and Lacazette to start and flourish in the starting eleven, so the defence and midfield must be switched on throughout the full 90, especially as a lot of Arsenal’s goals have come in the second period this season.
One positive is that Arsenal are having to make the long trip to Azerbaijan on Thursday to play FK Qarabag in the Europa league. These trips are always physically and mentally draining, best proved by the fact Fulham’s only victory this season came after a Europa league trip for Burnley only a few days before.
In injury news, Bryan is out with a hamstring problem, with Fosu-Mensah and Mawson doubts over shoulder and back issues respectively.
Predicted Starting Line-Up: Bettinelli, Christie, Odoi, Ream, Sessegnon, Zambo Anguissa, Cairney, Seri, Vietto, Mitrovic, Schurrle
Predicted Score: 1-1