Head-To-Head

Thursday 8 November 2012 11:39

We go into our game at the Emirates on Saturday (3pm) level on points with our hosts, with Arsenal sitting one place above us in seventh courtesy of their slightly stronger goal difference.

The Whites could occupy a UEFA Champions League place come the end of the weekend, although that would require a first-ever win at the home of the Gunners.

Arsenal will be hoping that they don’t suffer a European hangover after letting a two-goal lead slip in midweek, but they will be without the influential Jack Wilshere after the England midfielder saw red at Old Trafford in their most recent Barclays Premier League outing.

The opposition

Since starting their Premier League campaign with back-to-back goalless draws against Sunderland and Stoke City, Arsenal’s form has been mixed to say the least. They followed up a 2-0 victory at Anfield with a 6-1 demolition of Southampton, before earning a credible point against Manchester City at Eastlands.

Defeats by Chelsea, Norwich City and Manchester United have all followed, although they did pick up maximum points against London rivals West Ham United and Queens Park Rangers.

The Gunners are still in contention for the Capital One Cup after hitting 13 goals in their two games so far. After dispatching Coventry City 6-1 in the third round, they secured a remarkable comeback against Reading. Arsenal were four goals down before fighting back to secure their passage into the next round with an incredible 7-5 victory.

They still have some work to do in terms of qualifying for the knock-out stages of the Champions League as they currently sit second in Group B with seven points, one behind leaders Schalke 04, and one ahead of third-placed Olympiakos.

Last time out

Fulham 2-1 Arsenal 02.01.2012

Fulham saw the New Year in with a bang when we came from behind to earn a deserved win against Arsene Wenger’s side on a cold Monday evening at Craven Cottage.

The Gunners had taken the lead midway through the first half when Laurent Koscielny’s header flew past David Stockdale at the Hammersmith End, and we had our keeper to thank for limiting the deficit to one goal as he pulled off decent stops to deny Aaron Ramsey and Alex Song.

We came out strongly in the second period, though, and had the visitors pegged back for long stages of the game. Our cause was aided when Johan Djourou was dismissed for a second bookable offence on 78 minutes.

The equaliser came just seven minutes later when former Arsenal defender Philippe Senderos nodded the ball across goal for Steve Sidwell to power home with his head. The Whites weren’t content to settle for a point, however, and were rewarded for our attacking intent when Bobby Zamora volleyed home the winner in stoppage time.

Players to watch

Santi Cazorla: Arguably Arsenal’s best player this season, the Spain international arrived with a big reputation when he joined from Malaga in the summer. Comfortable playing anywhere across the midfield or in the number 10 role, Cazorla has two European Championship medals to his name, although he missed Spain’s World Cup triumph two years ago through injury.

Theo Walcott: The England man has pressed his claim for a central striking role with a number of clinical finishes this season. He has eight goals to his name already in the 2012/13 campaign, including a hat-trick against Reading in the Capital One Cup.

Lukas Podolski: Arsenal’s number nine is comfortable in a central role or coming in from the flank, and possesses one of the best left boots around. With over 100 international caps to his name despite his relatively young age of 27, the forward is a former teammate of Sascha Riether at FC Cologne.

Bet Butler odds

Arsenal are clear favourites ahead of our tie at the Emirates on Saturday (3pm), with the Gunners priced at 1.57 for the win by Bet Butler, compared to the Whites' odds of 6.8.

Dimitar Berbatov represents good value to open the scoring at 10.0, while Steve Sidwell – who has scored the final goal of the game on three occasions this season – is 29.0 to do the same again.

If you believe the score will be tied at half-time, you can get odds of 2.5.