The 2020/21 English Premier League season kicks off in London at 12:30 GMT on Saturday afternoon when neighbours Fulham and Arsenal clash at Craven Cottage. This derby match brings the curtain up on what promises to be another thrilling campaign and armchair fans following the live TV coverage hope we get off to a flyer.
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Fulham and Arsenal have met many times in the past, but Saturday’s clash will be the first since 1 January 2019 when the pair met on Premier League duty. The Gunners claimed an emphatic 4-1 victory that day thanks to goals from Xhaka, Lacazette, Ramsey and Aubameyang. Interestingly, the aggregate score from the last three games reads Arsenal 11-2 Fulham. Followers of the home team will be eager to see their troops show the improvement needed to get off to a winning start.
Cottagers bolster squad
Fulham returned to the Premier League after gaining promotion from the Championship earlier this summer. The Cottagers joined Leeds United and West Brom in climbing to the top tier, coming up through the playoffs. Scott Parker’s side beat Brentford in the playoff final at Wembley and their goal this term will be to avoid relegation at all costs.
Manager Parker has been active this summer. As well as signing a three-year deal of his own, he has attracted new players to help bolster his squad. Southampton midfielders Mario Lemina and Harrison Reed come in, the latter joining on a permanent deal after spending last season on loan at the club. It is hoped both will play a role in keeping their new employers in the Premier League.
Gunners win the Community Shield
Mikel Arteta suffered a mixed bag of results in his first season as manager of Arsenal, but the Spaniard will be planning to drive the Gunners back up through the league. A top-four finish is always the goal set out by the Emirates Stadium board in pre-season and this campaign will be no different. Arteta will be asked to return the side to the Champions League knowing failure to do so could cost him his job.
Arsenal have already enjoyed success this summer when following an FA Cup win over Chelsea at Wembley with a hard-fought Community Shield victory at the same venue against last season’s Premier League champions, Liverpool. The latter ended 1-1 after 90 minutes before Arsenal went on to win 5-4 on penalties. Aubameyang put his side ahead that day before Minamino fired an equaliser for the Reds midway through the second half.
Fulham vs Arsenal prediction
Followers will get an idea of what to expect from Fulham this season by how they perform in this match. How will they handle the jump up from the Championship to the Premier League? They enjoy home advantage but face a tough opener.
The stats give encouragement to Arsenal and the away team will be keen to continue their winning ways against the Cottagers, scoring a few goals in the process. Arsenal have the added fitness of playing in the Community Shield and that could make the difference.
Premier League odds
Fulham are 95/20 at 22bet with a win for Arsenal available at 11/20. The draw is 67/20.