A London derby! A return to Craven Cottage! A chance for nine wins on the spin and six league victories in a row! A chance to get above Spurs with a big win!
There is a lot at stake for Arsenal as they visit London neighbours Fulham on Sunday in the lunchtime match. Arsenal are the heavy favourite in this tie but after a punishing travel schedule to Azerbaijan on Thursday in the Europa League with a surprisingly strong squad this could still end up a tricky match for the Gunners.
Fulham, a pretty good attacking team, a bad defensive team
Fulham in the league have continued their attractive attacking style that got them promoted from the Championship. They are averaging nearly 13 shots per match, which is good for seventh best in the league. They are taking most of those shots from outside of the box, with over seven per match coming from long range which makes their expected goals (xG) per match in the bottom half of the league.
The standout offensive player for Fulham is Aleksandar Mitrovic.
He has compiled the second most total points for Fulham in the Twelve rankings. He currently leads the Premier League in my xG model this season which is very impressive in a league with such amazing attacking talent. I really enjoy watching Mitrovic play and while I am an Arsenal fan, I think that he could really terrorize Arsenal’s defenders in this match.
On defense, well the short answer is that it isn’t pretty.
No team has given up more xG than Fulham. No team has a higher xG per shot allowed than Fulham. No team allows more big chances than Fulham. No team allows more shots in the danger zone than Fulham. Essentially take a bad statistic and odds are that Fulham are at the top of that list.
Looking at the shot chart they have allowed it becomes clear just how easy teams have carved them open this season.
Fulham, much like Arsenal, are a team that likes to attack but struggles to defend. The biggest issue for Fulham is that they don’t have the talent on either side of the ball to be able to make that trade-off pay dividends.
Arsenal are winning, but the results are flattering
Look at the above expected points and expected goals table. Find Arsenal, take a moment to be sad that with that much attacking talent they have been mediocre and then wonder how in the world they have 15 points this season.
Arsenal are currently over-performing their expected points by over five points. Their performances peg them in mid-table instead of challenging for a top four spot. They currently have a negative xG differential and have the second biggest difference between their expected goals for and against compared to actual goals for and against.
They started the season with tough matches against Manchester City and Chelsea but since then they have played teams that are expected to be in mid-table or worse. They have gotten wins against teams they are supposed to beat but they haven’t done it convincingly according to the statistics. This is a red flag that the Gunners could see a down turn in results unless they start to up their performances.
Fulham vs Arsenal Simulated Result
Prediction: Fulham 2-3 Arsenal (with a lot of dodgy defending).