Arsenal’s Europa league excursion presents it’s own set of problems for Sunday’s clash against Fulham at the Cottage.
A 5,000 mile round trip and subsequent training sessions leading up to the match, may mean a few Arsenal players experiencing heavy legs and as a consequence, Arsenal head coach, Unai Emery may be forced to change things up or run the risk of losing his recent winning streak.
The Spaniard can look forward to Mkhitaryan’s return and perhaps even Aubameyang and Ramsey, as they attempt to halt the advance of the premier league new boys.
Fulham were devastating in the Championship and their free flowing attacking style will be interesting against an Arsenal side still learning how to play out from the back and defend as a unit.
However, recent signs have been highly encouraging, with a good run and things seem to be clicking into place, although it’s still a transitional period.
Arsenal should have too much class for Fulham but that’s not to say that they won’t make a game of it.
The gunners need to at least have the lions share of possession and frustrate their fellow Londoners for the first 45, relying on their ability to grab a chance at the other end.
Fulham aren’t there simply to make up the numbers, they will test the defence and Bernd Leno, so the German needs to be attentive and wary of danger.
That main danger will come in the form of Aleksandar Mitrović. Why Newcastle dispensed with his services is a complete and utter mystery. How the Toon could do with his natural poaching skills and predatory talent.
However, Fulham are not a one man band, they have the creative talent of Jean Michaël Seri, the electric pace and brilliance of Ryan Sessegnon and the defensive shield of Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
Make no mistake, this is going to be gruelling unless Arsenal strike early. As for Arsenal, Head coach, Unai Emery will field the strongest available team. It will be interesting to see if Sokratis gets the nod over Holding who has performed well and gained in confidence.
Could Smith-Rowe or Guendouzi get another outing ?
I think it’s about likely from the start but both could be summoned from the bench if fresh legs are required.
I’m also looking forward to the blossoming bromance of Xhaka and Torreira who are emerging as the ‘must start‘ duo.
A win would emphasise Arsenal’s ability to get results against the feisty sides fighting for survival and although it doesn’t mean they will go on to contest the premier league, progress is progress