Mikel Arteta’s Gunners are eyeing a response after surrendering top spot in the Premier League table. We look ahead to Sunday’s game at Craven Cottage with our Fulham vs Arsenal prediction and preview.
Fulham vs Arsenal Stats: The Quick Hits
- Across 10,000 match simulations conducted by the Opta supercomputer, Arsenal round off 2023 with a predicted win over Fulham in 48% of scenarios.
- Arsenal are unbeaten in their last nine away London derbies in the Premier League (seven wins, two draws), last enjoying a longer such run between September 2001 and April 2005 under Arsène Wenger (19).
- Since recording back-to-back 5-0 wins earlier in December, Fulham have lost three straight Premier League games by an aggregate score of 8-0. They last lost four successive league matches without scoring in September 1971 in the second tier.
The time for making New Year’s resolutions is upon us, and if Arsenal are to end their 20-year wait for a Premier League title in 2024, greater ruthlessness in front of goal should be their aim. Having failed to return to the top of the table on Thursday, Mikel Arteta will hope his team can make an early start on that front when they round off 2023 by visiting out-of-form Fulham on New Year’s Eve.
Goals from Tomás Soucek and former Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos condemned the Gunners to a miserable 2-0 defeat to West Ham at the Emirates Stadium last time out, keeping them two points behind leaders Liverpool ahead of Matchday 20. Arsenal recorded 77 touches in the opposition box on Thursday, the most on record (since 2008-09) for a Premier League team who failed to score in a game.
Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus and Leandro Trossard were guilty of missing gilt-edged chances for the wasteful hosts, and things could have been even worse for them had David Raya not kept out a stoppage-time penalty from Saïd Benrahma, conceded by former Hammer Declan Rice.
Many have suggested Arsenal should be in the market for a goalscorer in the January transfer window, but they could also do with finding more creativity when faced with packed defences. While no team has bettered their 11 set-piece goals in the Premier League this term, the Gunners rank 10th in the league for open-play expected goals (21.44 xG), while 12 teams – including Fulham (19) – have bettered their 18 open-play goals.
Captain Martin Ødegaard – named in the Opta Player Ratings Team of the Season (so far) – could have a key role to play in improving the Gunners’ fortunes, having both scored (11) and been directly involved in (17, six assists) more away Premier League goals than any other Arsenal player since the start of last season. Kai Havertz could line up alongside him in midfield, having missed Thursday’s game through suspension. Arteta has no new selection concerns but Fábio Vieira, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Thomas Partey all remain sidelined.
Defender Gabriel Magalhães began the festive period with a goal in a 1-1 draw with title rivals Liverpool, and he has a terrific record against Fulham, scoring in three of his four Premier League games against them. Two of those have come at Craven Cottage, both in 3-0 wins for his team in September 2020 and March 2023.
At the halfway point of the season, Arsenal are 10 points worse off than at the same stage of 2022-23, with Fulham the only Premier League team to match that drop-off. Marco Silva’s men have been wildly inconsistent lately, following back-to-back 5-0 wins over Nottingham Forest and West Ham by losing three successive games against Newcastle United, Burnley and Bournemouth by an aggregate score of 8-0.
Fulham last lost three consecutive matches without scoring within a single Premier League campaign in November 2018, going on to be relegated at the end of 2018-19. Though they start MD 20 six points clear of the relegation zone, the improved form of those below them may have provoked some nervousness.
They should be boosted by the comeback of Raúl Jiménez on Sunday, with the Mexican returning from suspension following his red card at Newcastle. Jiménez is Fulham’s joint-top scorer with four Premier League goals this season, alongside former Arsenal winger Willian.
The Brazilian has missed Fulham’s last two games with a hamstring injury and it remains to be seen whether he will be fit for their final outing of 2023. Willian has been directly involved in 10 Premier League goals at Craven Cottage since the start of last season (eight goals, two assists) – the most of any Fulham player. However, Arsenal are the team he has faced most often in the competition without ever scoring (12). There are also question marks over fellow wideman Adama Traoré, who has endured an injury-hit start to life in west London. Tim Ream is close to being back in contention after suffering a calf injury, though Tosin Adarabioyo and Calvin Bassey – who was sent off as Fulham held Arsenal to a 2-2 draw in August – will likely be preferred in central defence anyway.
Fulham vs Arsenal Head-to-Head
João Palhinha scored a late equaliser when the teams last met at the Emirates, with Fulham overcoming Bassey’s sending-off to earn a credible draw. They could now avoid defeat in both meetings with Arsenal in a single Premier League campaign for just the third time, having previously done so in 2008-09 and 2011-12 (one win, one draw on both occasions).
However, Arsenal have an exceptional record at Craven Cottage, winning their last five away league games against Fulham and netting at least three goals on each of their last four visits.
Only at Aston Villa between 1932 and 1939 have the Gunners ever scored three or more goals in five consecutive away league matches against an opponent.
Arteta’s team posted a comfortable 3-0 win on their last visit in March, when Trossard became the first player in Premier League history to assist three goals before half-time in an away match.
They tend to fare well when travelling across the capital, going unbeaten through their last nine away London derbies in the Premier League (W7 D2). They last had a longer such run between September 2001 and April 2005, going 19 without defeat under Arsène Wenger.
Fulham, meanwhile, have lost five of their last seven home London derbies in the Premier League (W1 D1), failing to score in each defeat, though their last such game was a 5-0 rout of West Ham earlier in December.
After enduring a miserable Christmas, Fulham could lose four successive league games while failing to score in each defeat for the first time since September 1971 when they were in the second tier.
However, Silva’s team do have a decent record on home soil, winning six of their last nine games at Craven Cottage across all competitions (L3).
Arsenal, meanwhile, have failed to win any of their last three away matches in all competitions, losing to Aston Villa and drawing with PSV and Liverpool.
The Gunners usually give their fans something to celebrate around the turn of the year though, winning their final league game in 12 of the last 16 calendar years (D2 L2), including each of the last three. They triumphed 4-2 at Brighton on December 31 last year, and this will be the first time they’ve played on New Year’s Eve in consecutive campaigns.
Fulham have won their final league game in five of the last eight calendar years (D2 L1), however, with the only loss in that run coming against Sheffield United in the Championship in 2021.
Opta Power Rankings
The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.
Ahead of kick-off in this game, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.
Fulham vs Arsenal Opta Player Ratings
Before kick-off in this match, here are the top five performing players from both teams in the 2023-24 Premier League according to the Opta Player Ratings:
Tom Cairney: 75.1 (out of 100)
Alex Iwobi: 64.6
Bernd Leno: 64.4
Harry Wilson: 64.1
Declan Rice: 80.9 (out of 100)
Oleksandr Zinchenko: 80.5
Martin Ødegaard: 79.7
Ben White: 76.0
William Saliba: 73.6
Fulham vs Arsenal Prediction
The supercomputer makes Arsenal favourites to get back to winning ways on Sunday, though it’s by no means a sure thing with Fulham given more than a 50% chance of a result.
Of 10,000 match simulations conducted before kick-off, Arsenal won 48%, with Fulham triumphing in 24.4% and 27.6% finishing level.
Before Arsenal’s draw with Liverpool on December 23, they were given a 28.4% of dethroning Manchester City in the supercomputer’s season predictions, but their title chances have since dropped to 15.3%.
Fulham are still expected to steer clear of danger, only being relegated in 4.1% of scenarios, with 14th (18.2%) their most common position across our 2023-24 simulations.