Fresh start looming for Gunners as they take on promoted Fulham
Arsenal to win 3-0
Over the past decade or so, Arsenal have provided optimism at the start of each season, only for it to end in tears when it all came crashing down in failure.
This season promises to be different, however. Since Mikel Arteta took over the reigns last December, there has been genuine improvement, both on the pitch and behind the scenes, ending with an FA Cup win last month.
The hope is that they can improve on their league position of 8th this time around.
As for Fulham, many are predicting the west-London club to go straight back down again come the end of the season.
Their manager Scott Parker will be looking to prove his doubters wrong, however.
They have the Championship’s topscorer in Mitrovic, and will hope they have learned their lesson the last time they were relegated from the Premier League.
Overturning Arsenal would be a great way to start.
Predicted 2020/21 finish: 20th
Reasons to be cheerful:
Striker Aleksandar Mitrović top-scored with 26 last season
Manager Scott Parker has shown to be a great motivator to his players
Reasons to be fearful:
Favourites to be relegated this season
Lost previous 5 games against Arsenal
Despite many predicting The Cottagers will go straight back down to the Championship, manager Scott Parker will be determined to prove doubters wrong.
Their home form will make or break them this season – they won 10 out of 13 recent home games before the play-offs last season. It makes it all the tougher that there won’t be any fans inside Craven Cottage this weekend.
Fans will be worried that their squad looks a little short, having done little business in the transfer market – their biggest signing is £10m winger Anthony Knockaert from Brighton.
There is a great pressure on topscorer Mitrovic to provide goals for them again this term. He has 38 goals in his last two Championship seasons, but only managed 11 when Fulham were last in the Premier League.
Goals could be a real concern for Fulham this season, especially against an improved Arsenal.
Star Man – Aleksandar Mitrović
He must provide goals if Fulham are to survive this season. Their next-top scorer, Tom Cairney, only managed 8 goals last year, versus Mitrovic’s 26.
Predicted 2020/21 finish: 6th
Reasons to be cheerful
Successful end to last season provides hope this year
Strong transfer signings should boost squad
Reasons to be fearful
Main defender David Luiz out injured for six weeks
Can be weak defensively
Arsenal fans will be pleased that, for once, only positive vibes are coming out of the club.
Winning the FA Cup followed quickly by the Community Shield, as well as signing Willian from Chelsea and Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille has quickly provided optimism for the new season.
If they manage to tie Aubameyang down to a new contract, they will be a real threat this season.
Their best chance of silverware remains a cup competition rather than the league, but they’ll be determined to have a good crack at the Europa League as well as domestic cups.
Despite signing a potentially top player in Magalhaes, Arteta must still address weakness through the middle of the team. The midfield, for example, still has a long way to improve to be considered in the class of Liverpool and the Manchester clubs.
They will, however, be too strong for Fulham this weekend.
Star Man – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Who else for Arsenal? He is so key for this team - he takes them from a mid-table side to challenging for Europe. They need to keep him at all costs.
Arsenal to dominate possession and cause Fulham problems
Fulham will try and play good football, but may resort to long balls if no success
Aubameyang to find the back of the net
Arsenal have not lost to Fulham since 2012, and the odds are on them continuing that run of form here.
They will be buoyant after ending last season so positively, and Arteta will fancy his chances of improving the side further this year.
Fulham need to win games at home to survive, however it will be extremely difficult in these sorts of games against big opposition.
Arsenal will have too much for them.
Arsenal to win 3-0