Premier League Preview: Fulham - Arsenal

James Willoughby
August 23, 2013
Premier League Preview: Fulham - Arsenal

Arsenal is confident that it can bounce back from a shock home loss to Aston Villa when it visits London rival Fulham in the Premier League on Saturday.

Arsene Wenger's men made a dreadful start to their league campaign, suffering a 3-1 home defeat to a Villa side that only just avoided relegation last season, but the Gunners recovered strongly on Wednesday, posting a terrific 3-0 win at Fenerbahce in the first leg of their Champions League playoff.

Theo Walcott starred for Arsenal, creating two of the goals, and he feels that his side can beat anyone when playing at its best.

"If everyone works hard for each other, we can get the results," Walcott told the club's official website. "I think at the weekend that probably wasn't the case, and we knew how disappointing it was. You don't want to start a season like that.

"We've forgotten about that and we're concentrating on Fulham. And if we perform like [Wednesday], with that intensity, we can beat anyone."

Defender Laurent Koscielny suffered a deep cut to the head against Fenerbahce but was suspended for the trip to Craven Cottage anyway, while Wenger is also without club captain Thomas Vermaelen as he recovers from a back injury. Bacary Sagna is expected to fill in as an emergency center back.

Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) is sidelined for up to three months, leaving Wenger short of midfield options with Abou Diaby (knee) and Mikel Arteta (thigh) not expected back any time soon as well.

Left back Nacho Monreal has recovered from a back problem, though, and featured against Fenerbahce.

Fulham enjoyed a far better opening day to the season as it claimed a 1-0 win at Sunderland thanks to Pajtim Kasami's second-half strike.

New signings Scott Parker and Darren Bent could make their debuts on Saturday. Parker joined from Tottenham for an undisclosed fee on Monday, while Bent, on a season's loan from Villa, did not feature from the bench at Sunderland.

Fulham will be without goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg (shoulder) and Kieran Richardson (hamstring), who both limped off at the Stadium of Light, but attacker Alexander Kacaniklic has a chance of returning from a hamstring problem of his own. David Stockdale is likely to deputize in goal for Martin Jol's side after coming off the bench for Stekelenburg.

Fulham has enjoyed a good record against Arsenal in recent times, losing just one of the teams' last five fixtures, but Arsenal did win the most recent meeting as Per Mertesacker scored the only goal in a 1-0 away win in April that saw both sides end the match with 10 men.