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Fulham-Arsenal Preview

By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO

STATS Writer

(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - In search of consistency, Arsenal are hoping to capitalize on a key stretch at the Emirates.

Kicking off that three-match homestand against Fulham, however, isn't exactly ideal.

The Gunners attempt avoid going a third match in a row without a win by defeating the Cottagers for the first time in almost two years Saturday.

Arsenal (4-3-3) are 2-1-3 over their last six matches in all competitions, suffering defeats to Norwich City, Manchester United and Schalke of Germany.

They had another difficult result against Schalke on Tuesday, squandering a two-goal, first-half lead to settle for a 2-2 draw in the Champions League. That came three days after the Gunners fell 2-1 at Manchester United in Premier League play.

Now, Arsenal are faced with a daunting run of home games that includes visits from Fulham (4-3-3), arch rivals Tottenham next weekend and France's Montpellier on Nov. 21.

"It is going to be a tough month for us now," midfielder Theo Walcott told the team's official website after scoring the opening goal Tuesday. "It is going to test us all, not just physically but mentally as well, and I think we are ready for it."

Arsenal, though, are 0-2-1 against the Cottagers since beating them 2-1 at the Emirates on Dec. 4, 2010. Walcott set up a goal by Thomas Vermaelen to salvage a 1-1 tie in the most recent match there last November.

They suffered a far worse fate at Craven Cottage on Jan. 2, surrendering two goals in the waning minutes to fall 2-1.

This meeting may be tougher than expected with midfielder Jack Wilshere suspended after being issued a red card last weekend.

Walcott leads Arsenal with eight goals in all competitions, and he's netted five in five games. Although, he had a hat trick in a 7-5 win at Reading on Oct. 30.

Fulham are looking to continue their success against Arsenal and extend their unbeaten stretch to five games. They drew for the third time in four games last weekend, when Steven Sidwell scored in the final minute to secure a 2-2 draw with Everton.

"We are working on a good team, but you can see the difference in having a settled team like Everton," manager Martin Jol told the club's official website. "We've still got the quality to score goals, though."

That quality has been on display over the past seven matches, totaling 14 goals and getting at least one in each. The team's 21 goals on the season rank third in the Premier League, and are spread among nine players with Sidwell, Dimitar Berbatov, Damien Duff and Mladen Petric leading the way with three apiece.

Despite that impressive scoring depth, Fulham are also struggling defensively, conceding 16 goals, including nine in five games.

Updated November 8, 2012

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