Arsenal vs Fulham 15:00
The Gunners are sitting pretty at the top of the table, but they host Fulham who will be desperately looking to bounce back after their humbling defeat at home to Sunderland
There has been a lot of discussion recently about the importance of Arsenal centre half pairing Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, with many pundits comparing the duo to Arsenal’s ‘invincibles’ team. Both have been in fine form all season, and Koscielny maintained this level of performance on Monday as he made a total of 21 defensive contributions (based on blocks, clearances, interceptions and tackles won). No other player in the league made as many as the French international.
Pundits have also credited Arsenal’s midfield when analysing the factors behind their success. The strength of Wenger’s armoury was evident on Monday, as Mesut Ozil (67) and Santi Cazorla (61) were second and fourth respectively in the EA SPORTS Player Performance table for number of passes completed in the opposition half.
Arsenal fans will be praying to tie Bacary Sagna down to a long term deal, as he is arguably producing the best form of his career. His effectiveness was clear on Monday, as he completed a total of 50 passes in the opposition half – this was more than any other defender.
The injury to Theo Walcott was a blow to Arsenal, as the Englishman was producing the sort of performances that made him a shoe-in for the World Cup this summer. Walcott has reiterated his desire to play as a central striker and the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index appears to back-up his claims that it is his natural position, as it shows that he has taken a shot at goal every 29 minutes. This is a better rate than Giroud (31), Podolski (34) and Bendtner (30).
Fulham travel the short distance across London desperately looking to follow up on their impressive 3-0 victory over Norwich in the FA Cup.
Despite a disappointing first half of the campaign, some sort of solace for Fulham fans has always come in the shape of Scott Parker. Parker has led from the front all campaign and continued his good form against the Black Cats, completing a total of 48 passes in the opposition half.
Rene Meulensteen voiced his obvious frustration at the performance of Adel Taarabt against Sunderland this week, claiming that he must start to deliver if the Cottagers are to stay in the Premier League. The Moroccan missed a glorious chance in the first half, but in the 63 minutes that he was on the pitch on Saturday, he did manage to demonstrate his outstanding dribbling ability. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index highlights that he made 5 dribbles – this was the most in the league.
Clint Dempsey’s has made a welcome return to Fulham this season, arriving on loan from the Seattle Sounders. The American made a solid second debut for the club and impressed with his passing, completing a pass in the opposition half at a rate of a pass every 3.6 minutes.
Steve Sidwell has been a central figure for Fulham this term, featuring in every match of the campaign so far. One of his biggest assets is his ability to break up play and stifle attacks, and this has manifested itself in the fact that he has made 41 interceptions this term – the most in the league.