Fulham boss Chris Coleman has warned his Fulham side they face a stern test against an Arsenal side reeling from last Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at Chelsea when they make the short trip to Highbury.
After drawing their opening game of the new season against Birmingham City, Fulham lost 2-1 at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday and despite his men going down to fine strikes from Morten Gamst Pedersen and Tugay, Coleman was unimpressed by the manner of the defeat and would have made sweeping changes at Highbury, were his options not so limited by injury.
Coleman is without nine senior players unavailable through injury including centre-back Alain Goma and goalkeepers Jaroslav Drobny and Mark Crossley, leaving on-loan Tony Warner as first choice stopper again.
Defender Carlos Bocanegra is set for a run-out in the reserves as he recovers from a knee problem, but will not be rushed back into first-team action.
“I wanted to rattle a few cages after Saturday’s performance,” Coleman said.
“If I could have made half a dozen changes, I would have – and I don’t think there could have been a complaint.
“We have got to be realistic, we are going to one of the best teams in the league and it is going to be difficult,” he said.
“While we cannot compete with them in the transfer market, we have to compete with them on the pitch – there is no excuse for us.
“Even with the injuries, we should still have enough. They have got to stand up and be counted.
“We can go and put a solid performance in, make it as hard as we can for Arsenal and ask them questions.”
Despite Arsenal selling Patrick Vieira to Juventus and losing twice to Chelsea already this season, Coleman maintained: “You never write off Arsene Wenger.
“He knows exactly what he is doing.
“They have lost to Chelsea in the second game of the season – anyone can lose to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
“The title is not over – that is rubbish.”