It’s happening again, isn’t it? Arsenal go west to face Fulham on Saturday and with their late-season rally into the Champions League places in full swing, this could be a significant weekend in the race for the top four.
Arsenal’s goalless draw with Everton on Tuesday may have stalled their impetus slightly, but the Gunners have hit an upward trajectory, as they have tended to do over the last few years, at just the right time of the season and if momentum counts for anything in football, then it is the red half of north London that is in the ascendency.
That they have to put such a run together in order to overhaul their rivals, most notably Tottenham Hotspur, says much about how Arsenal have fallen in the Premier League pecking order but with 16 consecutive seasons in the Champions League to his name, is anybody going to be against Arsene Wenger making it 17 next season?
Because things are looking favourable, and this weekend could be crucial. Arsenal are fourth, two points clear of Tottenham albeit having played a game more.
But if Wenger’s side can get the better of Fulham, all of a sudden a five-point gap is opened up and the psychological effect on Spurs, who haven’t finished above Arsenal since 1995, could be lethal.
And with Tottenham hosting Manchester City 24 hours after Arsenal go to Fulham, this could be the weekend when the top-four pendulum swings irrevocably in the Gunners’ favour.
Let’s face it, if you could pick a side to face at this stage of the season it would probably be Fulham and I see Arsenal taking full advantage of this great opportunity.
They are 67/100 to do just that, and an away win is the preference over the 14/5 on the draw or the 15/4 on Martin Jol’s side.
Having reached the holy grail of 40 points with a draw at Aston Villa last weekend, the Cottagers are one of only a handful of sides with nothing to play for and it didn’t half show in midweek when they went down 3-0 to Chelsea, the other team in the Champions League shake up, with a poor display.
It was a performance that had all the hallmarks of a team that has switched off, and with Arsenal in the groove – they have won eight and lost just one of their last 11 league fixtures – I don’t envisage them making any mistakes against a team that now has just one point and one goal from their last three matches.
But instead of odds-on, I’ll go Arsenal to win and over 2.5 goals in the game at 29/20, which potentially returns £49 for new customers backing it with their free £20 bet after registering.
Fulham have not been their usual selves at Craven Cottage this year – they have won just seven of their 16 games and have let in 22 goals, the seventh-worst record in the division – but there has tended to be goals.
Eleven of their games have seen over 2.5 goals, with matches at the Cottage averaging 2.94 goals.
Five of Fulham’s six home defeats have seen at least three goals scored, and Arsenal have performed well against the division’s lesser lights.
The Gunners boast a 12-4-1 record against the teams in the bottom half and although Jol’s team is technically in the top half in tenth, they have been looking over their shoulders all season and have more in common with the relegation-threatened sides than they do with those going for Europe.
Arsenal’s matches against the bottom half have averaged 3.11 goals per game, so I think there is reason enough to think there could be goals at the Cottage – especially when you consider that five of the last six meetings have produced over 2.5 goals.
I think the same will happen again in an Arsenal win, and I’ll be on the 29/20.