Fulham manager Martin Jol was never convinced Arsenal “had a problem” after watching the Gunners silence their critics with an impressive Champions League play-off win away over Fenerbahce ahead of Saturday’s visit to Craven Cottage.
Arsene Wenger’s men showed no hangover from their opening Barclays Premier League home defeat by Aston Villa as they ran out 3-0 winners in the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium to all but secure a place in the lucrative group stages of Europe’s elite club competition for a 17th consecutive season.
Jol admits his squad, which this week was boosted by the signing of England international Scott Parker from Tottenham, must be prepared to tackle a team on top of their game in the televised lunchtime kick-off.
“I played in Turkey a couple of times and it is almost impossible to have a win over there and they did, quite convincingly,” Jol said at a press conference.
“They played with confidence, they were very sound at the back, in midfield they were very creative, they had pace up front and with their chances they could have scored more goals, so I am not sure if they have got a problem.
“There is not a fear factor in our team about Arsenal, but of course you know their qualities and you have to respect their qualities and try to play your own style.
“If you see Santi Cazorla, he is one of the best players who can play with two feet – he can score with his left and right. (Theo) Walcott with his pace, (Olivier) Giroud is getting better and better, and their midfield – you can’t figure out who is the defensive midfielder and who is the offensive midfielder because they rotate all the time.”
Jol is likely to deploy both Parker and striker Darren Bent, signed on a season loan from Aston Villa, against the Gunners.
The Fulham boss said: “Darren Bent will give us that stretch that we needed. Bryan Ruiz and Dimitar Berbatov are fantastic players, but we lack a bit of pace up front and hopefully we have sorted that now.”
Jol welcomed the addition of Parker, who had also been linked with a switch to Sky Bet Championship side QPR.
“Scott is the perfect player for most of the managers in the Premier League,” the Fulham manager said.
“He is English, is a leader, can play on the ball, can play off the ball, and he makes interceptions, so I think it is fantastic to have him on board.”
Jol hopes he will be able to bring in another couple of faces to bolster the squad ahead of the September 2 transfer deadline.
“You don’t know what will happen because we have still got 10 days to go, and maybe we are one or two players short,” he said.
“But if it stays like it is now I think we can be quite happy because if you would have told me three or four weeks ago that Darren Bent would be on board, as well as Scott Parker and also Adel Taarabt, who played for me at Spurs and was a £15million player (at QPR) probably 18 months ago, I wouldn’t believe you, so I am a happy man.”