Yesterday was an exciting day of outgoing players for Arsenal and the conclusion of a very nice window for Arteta, Edu, and Arsenal (Check out my final thoughts and window grade). However, as the Premier League season often goes, less than 24 hours later, it’s back to focusing on matches, getting results, and adding points to your tally.
This match against Wolverhampton, for Arsenal, is a really important one in this run of seven games. Starting with Southampton last week, Arsenal were set to face: Southampton, Manchester United, Wolves, Aston Villa, Leeds, Manchester City, and Leicester in the league. A run of games that netted them 5 points the first time around.
Arsenal will have to do significantly better this time around, and have started off well, already wining 4 out of 6 from the first two matches. It gets tougher from here which means getting a result at Molineux Stadium against 14th place Wolves is a must. A draw may suffice, but with Manchester City, Leicester, and even Aston Villa bearing down at them, grabbing all three points would be a huge boost.
Arsenal are just outside of the 4th and 5th place party looking in at Everton, Chelsea, and Tottenham on 33 points, West Ham on 35 points, and Leicester on 39 points. A win tomorrow would put Arsenal at 34. They would still need a lot of help from other matches, but it puts the Gunners in the mix and keeps their 7 league matches unbeaten streak rolling.
The results have gotten significantly better since the last time Arsenal played Wolverhampton, but Wolves have continued to prove themselves as a team that stumps Arsenal. In Arsenal’s last 9 matches against Wolverhampton, Arsenal have won 4, drawn 3, and lost two, including the 1-2 loss in November.
It should be another tough away match for Arsenal, and the running list of injuries are stacking up, while simultaneously being indicative of the consistent onslaught of matches which means fatigue plays a role. Before we get to the lineup, let’s take a look at the team news.
Auba has returned to full training. Our thoughts and support continue to be with him and his family.
Left calf. Dani has returned to full training and his availability will be assessed ahead of Tuesday’s match.
Right calf. Pablo has returned to full training and his availability will be assessed ahead of Tuesday’s match.
Right hip. Mat is unavailable for Tuesday’s match. Hopeful to be back in full training in the coming days.
Right hip. Missed Saturday’s match with a sore hip. Bukayo has now returned to full training and his availability will be assessed ahead of Tuesday’s match.
Kieran is continuing to be assessed for discomfort in the right lower leg. Kieran is unavailable for Tuesday’s match.
Unfortunately that is a running list of injuries and players needing to be assessed. Fortunately, those being assessed aren’t qualifying as injured or Out which puts them in a better spot than Kieran Tierney who is truly unavailable. Additionally, since this was posted, Dani Ceballos tweeted that he is back and ready to go, so hopefully that is one less player out.
Much of this selection is based on the fact that Saka passes his assessment, but I believe we will see Arteta return to a lineup that has comes as close to his “strongest”.
Leno in net and the same back four used against Manchester. Luiz played really well against United and Rob Holding has been solid, so I imagine that pair gets the nod. Tierney is out so it will be Cedric and Bellerin for full backs. Cedric will have his hands full with Wolves right side and the amount of their play that comes through the wings.
In the midfield, Arteta will likely stick with what has become his main three. Interestingly, Partey struggled against Manchester United, but it seemed clear that he wasn’t 100% fit. With Ceballos likely back in action, it will be interesting to see if Arteta rests Partey out of precaution or plays him because of the quality he brings. If he is fit, he of course will play.
Up top may be the harshest bit of the lineup. Pepe has played quite well and this selection is not fair to him, nor indicative of how he has been, but such is the life of a player that has fallen down the pecking order. Arteta may opt to ease Aubameyang back into action, or Saka may not be healthy, but my gut tells me Arteta will return to his ‘main three’. Another interesting note is the fact that Lacazette has been playing a lot of minutes for Arsenal down the middle. While I don’t think Arteta will start with Aubameyang down the middle, it is very possible a change that like that occurs.
When it comes to Arsenal, almost every game is going to be a “tough one”, and this match is no different. Wolves will look for opportunities to counter Arsenal and much of the battle may come down to who can control the wings. Wolves like to get into the channels, especially through quick, early releases and that could cause Arsenal problems if they aren’t covering for their pushed on full backs or dropping into defense when they lose the ball.
Teams like to play aggressively against Wolves and Arsenal will need to follow suit. Arsenal were out-pressed against Manchester United and there were moments they really struggled because of it. They have an opportunity to take the game to Wolves and cause problems but they will need to take that initiative.
I believe that Partey will have a better game and we will see him play closer to the level we have seen, rather than what we saw against Manchester which will help alleviate the press Wolves throw at them. It should make for an interesting game, but I still believe it will come down to winning the battle in the wings.
Prediction: 2-1 Arsenal.