After a swift return to the top-flight following a year absence, newly-promoted Fulham host Arsenal in an all-London clash on the Premier League’s opening weekend.
Here’s all you need to know about Saturday’s clash at Craven Cottage:
Expectations for season and team news
Fulham are back in the Premier League at the first time of asking following a solid season which saw them achieve promotion via the high octane thrills of the play-offs, the Cottagers defeating free-flowing Brentford at Wembley to seal a return to the top-flight.
Manager Scott Parker will no doubt be hoping to fare better than his side’s previous spell in the top tier, a season which saw three managerial changes and a plethora of failed signings condemn the club to relegation.
Having spent heavily two years ago, the club have been much more frugal and clever this time around, bringing in Alphonse Areola, Antonee Robinson, Mario Lemina and Kenny Tete as well as securing permanent deals for last season’s promotion heroes Anthony Knockaert and Harrison Reed.
Ahead of the arrival of the Gunners Parker will have little in the way of injury troubles, although he will have to decide whether to start his new additions ahead of those players who helped him achieve promotion. Getting that balance right was no doubt a downfall of their last Premier League adventure.
As for the visitors, despite a lack of cash the 2020/21 season appears to be one to look forward to for the Gunners faithful, as manager Mikel Arteta looks to reinvigorate a side that has dwindled over the last few seasons.
Arteta and sporting director Edu have already made some shrewd additions, bringing in Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes and his compatriot Willian from Chelsea – as well as securing the return of midfielder Dani Ceballos on loan from Real Madrid.
While those men could all be in line to make their debuts on Saturday, the major cause of excitement is the news that star forward Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang looks set to commit his future to the club after months of uncertainty.
As for injuries, Arteta will have to make do without long-term absentees Calum Chambers and Gabriel Martinelli, while centre-back pair Pablo Mari and Shkodran Mustafi are also out with ankle and hamstring issues, respectively.
Arsenal 4-1 Fulham, 1st January 2019
It’s fair to say that the Gunners have the far better record in this fixture in recent times, having one 5-1 and 4-1 in the two sides meetings back in 2018/19.
The latter result saw goals from Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey, Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang claim all three points, a solitary consolation from Fulham’s Aboubakar Kamara doing little to aid to the away side’s woes.
The New years day clash left Arsenal just two points behing fourth-placed Chelsea, a position the Gunners finished the season in, while the Cottagers were unmoved from their 19th spot in the table.
Predicted Line ups
Fulham: Rodak; Odoi, Ream, Hector, Bryan; Reed, Johansen, Cairney; Kebano, Mitrovic, Knockaert.
Arsenal: Leno; Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Cedric, Xhaka, Ceballos, Maitland-Niles; Aubameyang, Nketiah, Saka.
Who is the referee?
How can I watch?
UK and Irish readers can watch the game on BT Sport 1.
What time is kick off?