Writer: Nick Simmonett
Date:Saturday April 28 2007
Arsenal can move to within a point of Liverpool tomorrow if the beat Fulham at Ashburton Grove.
After Liverpool's 2-1 loss at Portsmouth on Saturday the gunners are just 4 points behind the Merseyside outfit with a game in hand.
Fulham on the other hand will be looking to take a huge leap towards Premiership survival with victory over Arsenal.
Arsenal will be lacking attacking options again, something that is likely to be very important considering Fulham will mroe than likely come to Ashburton Grove looking foe a draw.
Expect to see a tired duo of Alex Helb and cesc Fabregas pushing the Arsenal midifled foward after Tomas Rosicky was declared unfit for duty by Boss Arsene Wenger.
Arsene Wenger was in an uncharacteristicly reflective mood on Thursday during his pre-match press confrence, while also offering Arsenal fans some hope for next season: 'This season is not enough, don't take me wrong, but it is as well not a super disaster," he said.
'You have not to be too much disastrous, you know? Maybe if you look at the history of the Club and it will not be looked at as bad as people make it. We moved to a new stadium and when you do that you drop points. We had big, big long-term injuries, yet despite this we still finish fourth, maybe third, in the League and just lost in the Carling Cup Final with a very, very young team
'We work very hard but we knew we could go through a stage a little bit like that. The basic target was not to finish seventh, or eight or ninth. But that can happen to anybody, there's no guarantee because you're Arsenal Football Club.
"Yes, of course it aggravates [not being in the shake-up]. But it is as well very interesting. At times, you have to leave room for others.
"Others want success as well. It's not only there for you. That's part of life. I feel it is an interesting season as well because it's full of promise, full of tests for the Club and I'm confident that it will help us to be stronger next year.
'Of course, and the players miss it as well. Don't worry, they want to be involved. But it's part of the competition - you have no guarantee that you finish in the top one or two."
Fulham caretaker manager Lawrie Sanchez admitted that he must take the pressure off his players, before he bizarely dumped it back on the Fulham players' shoulders: 'There is pressure but it is for me to try to take that away.
'It goes back to structure, shape and the basics you can hold on to when it is going wrong around you. Then you can pull yourself up and get back into it.
'Ultimately the players have to be responsible for themselves. One, for knowing their job and two, doing it.'
None of Arsenal injured players will be returning in time to face Fulham. Long-term sufferes Thierry Henry, Robin Van Persie and Theo Walcott will all be missing again. The bad news is that Freddie Ljungberg and Tomas Rosicky join the attacking trio on the sidelines.
Ljungberg will almost definantly miss the match against Chelsea next weekend while Tomas Rosicky will have to take a late fitness test ahead of the Chelsea Match
The Togo striker will be high on confidence after his 4 goal of the season against Spurs last weekend.
He had gone almost 2 months without a Premiership goal before his strike against North London rivals Tottenham last Saturday.
I fully expect him to push on and get at least one more this weekend.
Franck Queudrue (ankle) and Ian Pearce (calf)will miss out for fulham in defence.
They have joined Jimmy Bullard, Mark Pembridge and Simon Elliott on the treatment table for Fulham.
The powerful Senegal internation will look to boss Fabregas in midfiled, quashing Arsenal's creative outlet.
He is a real big game player, and a one-time Arsenal target. Let's hope not signing him doesn't come back to bite Arsenal in teh ass.
Mark Clattenburg will referee this match. LAst time he was in charge of an Arsenal game the Gunners won 2-1 at Charlton. I'm sure most of you remember that as being the day goal of the season was scored as van Persie hit a spectacular 20-yard volley. You probably wont remember the fact that he booked 4 Arsenal players along with 4 Charlton players that day. In total this season he has dished out 100 yellow cards and a big, fat zero reds in his 24 games. his average card count is around 4.17.
Both teams will be missing some key players. Arsenal will be short in attack while Fulham will be short in defence. 1-1 seems the most likely score to me. I think they will join most other Premiership teams in taking a lead at the Emirates through Zat Knight before Gilberto Silva draws the game for Arsenal.
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Date:Saturday April 28 2007
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|1. Leicester City||25||15||8||2||+20||53|
|4. Man City||25||14||5||6||+21||47|
|5. Man Utd||25||11||8||6||+10||41|
|6. West Ham||25||10||9||6||+9||39|
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