Arsene Wenger has reiterated that his Arsenal side has to maintain their good from until the end of the season if they are to secure a 16th consecutive season in the Champions League.
The Gunners dropped two points in a 0-0 draw with Everton on Tuesday to leave them in fourth place in the Premier League, but, with Tottenham just two points behind with a game in hand. Ahead of Saturday’s trip to Craven Cottage to take on Fulham, Wenger believes that the race could well go right to the end of the season.
“The only way we can deal with the situation is to win our games,” he said, according to Arsenal’s official website.
“We won eight of the last nine and [then] had a draw against Everton, which can happen to anybody. I believe that we just want to keep that strong run going until the end. We know for us it is what's needed to be successful.
“I believe we will do it but it is down to our performances, it is down to us performing until the end, as we did recently.”
Wenger will again be without Lukasz Fabianski, with the goalkeeper having suffered a cracked rib. Midfielder Tomas Rosicky will face a late fitness test on a hamstring problem.
Fulham manager Martin Jol believes his side are also still in need of points as they seek to ensure their place in the Premier League for next season. While they have reached the traditional safety mark of 40 points, Jol is still wary of 18th-placed Wigan’s ability to bridge a nine-point gap.
“Hopefully we are safe,” Jol said, according to Fulham’s official website. “There are less games now but we look good. Of course there’s that little thing with Wigan as they have a game in hand and you never know, because they’re specialists in escaping relegation.
“We’ll have to wait and see, there are a few teams having a few problems to pick up the points so for us it’s important that we gain some points in the next couple of matches.”
Steve Sidwell will be available after completing his three-match ban as Fulham lost 3-0 at home to Chelsea on Wednesday. However, Damien Duff, Ashkan Dejagah and Mahamadou Diarra all remain out injured, while Emmanuel Frimpong is ineligible to face his parent club.
D: Riether, Senderos, Hangeland, Riise
M: Ruiz, Sidwell, Karagounis, Emanuelson
F: Berbatov, Rodallega
D: Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs
M: Ramsey, Arteta
Walcott, Wilshere, Cazorla
Prediction: Arsenal were involved in a tough encounter with Everton on Tuesday as both sides missed chances. Olivier Giroud was particularly profligate for his side and he will have to do a better job of converting opportunities if Arsenal are to make the top four.
But Arsenal largely continued to their good form as well as their growing resilience. That should be enough to take them past a Fulham side that has shown signs of fading since reaching the 40-point mark.
Fulham 1-2 Arsenal
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick-off at 10 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN2, with a live stream available on ESPN3.