Arsenal are the team Chris Coleman would pay to see – but the Fulham boss dreads having to watch them from the Cottagers’ dugout.
With victories over Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool in the bank, Arsenal remain the only club out of the Barclays Premiership’s big four Coleman has yet to beat.
The former Wales defender hopes the Gunners’ scalp will complete his collection on Wednesday night when the sides meet at Craven Cottage but knows luck will be a key ingredient in any upset.
And while he is an unashamed admirer of their cavalier style, he admits it makes for nightmare viewing as an opposition manager with Fulham leaking 13 goals to Arsenal in the last two seasons alone.
“Arsenal and Manchester United play the best football. They’re not happy with one goal, they want to win by three,” said Coleman, whose side was thrashed 4-0 in the same fixture last term.
“Man United attack very aggressively while Arsenal are more fluent. Arsenal play the best passing game – pound for pound they’re the best passing team and are brilliant in tight situations.
“Chelsea are a different kettle of fish. You go 1-0 down against Chelsea and it’s all over because they’re so hard to break down. They have such powerful players and are very, very organised.
“They’re so regimental and their jobs are set out – that’s the way Jose Mourinho works and they don’t stray from that.
“I’d prefer to watch Arsenal play to any other team, although it’s only enjoyable when you see them against someone else. It’s not enjoyable when you’re sat on the touchline.
“You can see your team are doing their best but sometimes you have to give credit to the opposition when they’re that good.
“Arsenal still have chances so no matter how well you play against them, you have to have a bit of luck if you’re to get any kind of result.
“We’ve played them many times and we’ve tried everything. We tried to play, pass and get stuck in but it never worked. They’re a great team and what you have to have is a bit of luck on the day.”
Fulham were one of the more entertaining Premiership sides to watch last season but the lengthy battle with relegation prompted Coleman to curb his attacking instincts.
He admits he would like his side to honour the legacy established by previous Fulham managers Kevin Keegan and John Tigana but his tactics are shaped by the need to preserve the club’s Premiership status.
“For sure I’d like to play football, passing from the back through midfield. I was taught that style mostly in international football for Wales and when Jean Tigana was Fulham manager,” he said.
“It was a whole new way of thinking about how we should play football and I loved it. Kevin Keegan, the previous manager, was more gung-ho.
“Tigana used to play in a diamond and there was always one holding midfielder. With Kevin it was a free for all – everybody attacked.
“I’d love to play attacking football all the time and while it would be great to leave the pitch after losing 4-2 and have everyone pat us on the back, I want to win.
“We’re in a results business and we need to make sure first and foremost that this club is in the Premier League.
“If we can finish mid-table or higher and have a cup run, job done, brilliant, that’s what it’s all about. Ideally if I had the right players I’d play more football.”