Quite sadly, the end of the 2010/11 Premier League season is about to be bestowed upon us tomorrow afternoon. There's probably no better send off, however, then one last opportunity to hush the critics yet again and cruise past a below par Arsenal side.
Arsenal, of course, have been one of the most consistent clubs in English football in recent history, rarely falling out of the Champions League places and always providing some sort of title challenge, albeit weaker ones of late. No doubt, then, that their success falls completely onto the shoulders of manager Arsène Wenger who has mastered a story of both achievement and sustainability with a young team that produce such wizardry that the best in the world can only look on enviously.
It hasn't all been rosy at the Emirates recently, though, with a select few calling for the head of Wenger as his side yet again capitulated at the final hurdle. Quite who the Arsenal fans think can better such intelligence and wisdom is beyond me; the only fault Wenger possessing being an uncanny ability to argue with any question put forward to him.
Still, it doesn't stop the French manager from being under heavy pressure following a turn in form that even the likes of Birmingham and Blackpool may laugh at. And, it was, quite ironically, Birmingham that seemingly caused the spiral in confidence for Wenger's men. After a Carling Cup final defeat to the Blues, Arsenal have been knocked out of the Champions League and have dropped to fourth spot in the Premiership after a string of less-than-acceptable results. Wenger will be telling his boys to buck up or 'buck off' at Craven Cottage tomorrow as his side are threatened with the qualifying stages of next season's Champions League, which begins in August (although that's nothing on our potential season opener in June.) For that, Hughes needs to be wary.
In contrast, we enter the game in good form. A systematic hammering of Birmingham on their own turf last week would have gone a long way to extending some well healed egos after a weary start to the season. Hughes was almost a goner when Fulham entered the middle of the season in the drop zone, but an upturn in form reminiscent of Liverpool's has heaved us up to a very respectable eight place.
Earlier in the season, Wenger got the better of us in North London with a close 2-1 win. Nasri was spectacular in scoring one of the goals of the season when rounding 'keeper Mark Schwarzer with Messi-esque ease. In the Craven Cottage fixture last season, we were defeated 1-0.
On top of their poor form, Arsenal also have a concerning amount of injuries to take to South West London tomorrow. Cesc Fabregas will miss out and could be joined by Samir Nasri, Johan Djourou and Gael Clichy.
Simon Davies could return for the Cottagers, but Baird, a solid player throughout the season, is out thanks to suspension. Dembele and Duff won't feature.
Score Prediction: Fulham 2 - 2 Arsenal
Predicted Line-Up: Schwarzer; Salcido, Hughes, Hangeland, Senderos; Dempsey, Davies, Sidwell, Murphy; Zamora, Johnson.