Fulham-Arsenal Preview

The Associated Press

An injury-hit Arsenal look to remain top of the Premier League in Saturday's London derby against relegation-threatened Fulham at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners have won four league fixtures on the trot to lead Manchester City by one point and Chelsea by two as they bid for their first piece of silverware since the 2005 FA Cup.

"Let's take care of our performances," manager Arsene Wenger said. "Then you have to go forward always and get the points and see if you can make the difference with where you are with the other teams."

Arsenal have led the Premier League for 17 rounds this season after doing so for just six over the previous five.

"They're very confident at the moment because they're up there," Cottagers boss Rene Meulensteen told Fulham's official website. "If you compare that to recent seasons, they haven't been up there, now they're up there constantly. They know every game is so important in making sure they stay up there and only time will tell which teams will sustain that."

Wenger has numerous injury problems, with Aaron Ramsey out with a thigh injury. Mikel Arteta (calf) and Thomas Vermaelen (knee) are also out and Wenger believes the trio will also miss out on next week's FA Cup tie with Coventry City.

Nacho Monreal is in doubt after he left Monday's 3-1 victory over Aston Villa. Tomas Rosicky only lasted 17 minutes as a substitute in that one before leaving with a broken nose.

"Monreal looks a doubt for Saturday, a big doubt, because he twisted his foot on the kick," Wenger told Arsenal's official website. "It is not the bruise, he turned and twisted the ligament.

"Rosicky had surgery with a general anaesthetic for a broken nose in two places. With a mask he may be available, but we have to monitor it closely."

Arsenal won 3-1 in the reverse fixture at Craven Cottage on Aug. 24 behind Lukas Podolski's brace and a goal from Olivier Giroud.

Fulham are in 16th place on 19 points - one above the drop. The Cottagers have three wins in their last seven matches.

Fulham have come away with draws in their last two visits to the Emirates, and will look to regroup following last Saturday's 4-1 league defeat at home to Sunderland. Meulensteen made nine changes for Tuesday's 3-0 win over Norwich City in an FA Cup replay.

The loss to the Black Cats marked a disturbing series of heavy defeats under Meulensteen, whose side fell 4-1 to Everton on Dec. 14 and 6-0 to Hull City on Dec. 28.

"The Sunderland game was again another freak scoreline where you're dominating the game in the first 20 minutes where you should get your noses in front, and we didn't and it cost us," Meulensteen said.

Maarten Stekelenburg and Brede Hangeland returned Tuesday and both are in contention for a place Saturday.

Gunners striker Giroud marked his return Monday with his ninth league goal after missing two games due to illness.

"He looked fresh, he was sick in bed for a while and you could see in the first half for a while he was physically ready," Wenger said. "In the second half, he dropped physically."

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