Mikel Arteta has stressed the importance of Arsenal maintaining their upturn in form against London rivals Fulham ahead of a key run of games.
The Gunners produced one of their best displays under Arteta on Thursday to see off Slavia Prague 4-0 and advance to the Europa League semi-finals 5-1 on aggregate. That made it back-to-back wins without conceding, having also brushed aside the Premier League's bottom side Sheffield United 3-0 last week to stay within nine points of the top five.
The upcoming European semi-final with Unai Emery's Villarreal will take priority, but Arteta is eager to keep the momentum going heading into that two-legged tie.
"I think the better we are in the league, and if we keep winning, the confidence will be higher, the spirit will be better, the players' individual performances will maintain and that will have a knock-on effect on the Europa League, for sure," the Spaniard said.
"The priority right now is Sunday - forget about the semi-finals. We have two big games to play at home and we have to do our best to win them. If we do the season will start to look a little bit different."
While Arsenal are starting to find their feet in what has been a difficult first full campaign for Arteta, Fulham's hopes of dragging themselves out of the relegation zone were dealt a major blow last week with a 1-0 loss to Wolves - their fourth defeat in a row.
The West London side are now six points behind 17th-placed Newcastle United, who also have a game in hand, meaning Scott Parker's men will need to target a victory at the Emirates Stadium.
"Our main focus is to go and try to win this game. Let's go to the Emirates, put on a very good performance, a good display all round and get a result," Parker said. "This group of players have got a bit of resilience about them and we bounce back and we're now looking forward to a London derby and a very good side in Arsenal."
Arsenal - Alexandre Lacazette
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ruled out after contracting malaria, there is added importance on Lacazette to lead the line for Arsenal. The Frenchman scored twice in the win over Slavia and leads the way in terms of league goals for Arsenal this term with 13 - only in 2017-18 (14) has he scored more during his time in English football.
Fulham - Aleksandar Mitrovic
Serbia international Mitrovic has climbed up the pecking order to become Fulham's first-choice striker and has six goals in his last five appearances for club and country. However, he has the unwanted record of playing in more Premier League London derbies without ending on the winning side than any other player, drawing two and losing 14 of his 16 such appearances.
- Arsenal have never lost at home against Fulham in 29 previous meetings (W24 D5) - more than they have faced any other side at home without defeat in all competitions.
- Fulham have lost each of their last six Premier League meetings with Arsenal, conceding 18 goals and scoring just three in reply.
- The Gunners' last three Premier League games against Fulham have seen them win 5-1, 4-1 and 3-0. In their top-flight history, they have never beaten an opponent by at least three goals in four consecutive games before.
- Arsenal have lost just one of their last 42 home league games against sides in the relegation zone (W39 D2), though it was in their last such match against Burnley back in December (1-0).
- Arteta's men are looking to win back-to-back league games for the first time since January. However, the Gunners have lost eight home games in all competitions this season, which is their most in a single campaign since 1929-30 (nine).
Updated April 16, 2021