Arsenal will be desperate to return to winning ways when they welcome Wolves to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Saturday is set to be an action-packed day in Gameweek 11 of the 2019-20 Premier League season, with eight matches scheduled. Arsenal will be one of the teams in action during ‘Goal Rush’, and the Gunners will be intent on overturning a three-game winless run in domestic football when they play hosts to Wolves at the Emirates.
After a decent start to the season, Arsenal seem to have lost their way. While they have a perfect record in Europe, the Gunners have failed to win their last three domestic games, with the latest setback coming in the form of their Carabao Cup exit at the hands of an inexperienced Liverpool side, while also having dropped out of the Premier League top four in the last couple of weeks.
Wolves, on the other hand, have recovered from a difficult start to their Premier League campaign. While Nuno Espirito Santo will be irked after his side was booted out of the Carabao Cup this week, the fact that the Midlands club have not been beaten in their last five league outings is cause for optimism, especially with the run of results propelling them to 12th on the table.
The corresponding fixture last season had ended in a 1-1 draw, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan cancelling out Ivan Cavaleiro’s 13th minute opener. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Unai Emery does not have any pressing injury concerns on his hands ahead of the visit of Wolves. On Saturday, the Arsenal boss is only certain to be without one first-team player, with Reiss Nelson sidelined for at least three more weeks.
The likes of Sead Kolasinac, Joe Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles picked up knocks in the defeat to Liverpool. But, the trio are unlikely to start against Wolves anyway, so their fitness concerns do not pose much of a worry. The big news heading into this weekend’s fixture is that Granit Xhaka will play no part against Wolves.
The Arsenal captain has apologised for the outburst he directed at fans upon being substituted against Crystal Palace last week. But, the call seems to have been taken with a view to simmer the tensions between the player and the supporters as the debate over club captaincy continues to loom.
On Saturday, the armband might be handed to Mesut Ozil, who might just make only his second Premier League appearance of the season after Emery iterated that he is in line to feature against Wolves. Ozil, who was Arsenal’s most impressive player against Liverpool, is set to reprise the no. 10 role once again.
Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang played no part in the midweek cup tie and the trio should return to the starting lineup. Pepe and Aubameyang will be the two wide men for Arsenal, while Lacazette will lead the line against Wolves.
In the midfield double pivot, Lucas Torreira, another player who impressed in defeat to Liverpool, could benefit from Xhaka’s absence, starting alongside Matteo Guendouzi. The entire backline is set to be changed, with Kieran Tierney and Calum Chambers being the full-backs, while Sokratis will partner David Luiz at the heart of the Arsenal defence. Bernd Leno is a certain starter in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Chambers, Sokratis, Luiz, Tierney; Guendouzi, Torreira; Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette
Nuno Espirito Santo has had a fresh fitness issue to contend with ahead of the trip to the capital. Against Arsenal on Saturday, the Wolves boss will be without three first-team players, with the major absentee being senior defender Willy Boly.
The French centre-back sustained a broken ankle this week and is set to be sidelined for a considerable period. In his absence, Romain Saiss is likely to fill his void, getting the nod ahead of Jesus Vallejo. Conor Coady and Matt Doherty will be the other two defenders in Wolves’ back three, with Rui Patricio an automatic pick in goal for the visitors.
Adama Traore has been the man in form for Wolves in recent weeks and the 23-year-old will be the key man for the Midlands side, starting as the right wing-back. Jonny is a certain starter on the opposite flank, while Joao Moutinho, Leander Dendoncker and Ruben Neves will form the three-man midfield unit.
Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota will form the strike partnership for the visitors, with Jota playing off Jimenez. The duo will be tasked with pressing aggressively to win the ball in advanced positions while also using their pace to complement the forward bursts of Traore and put the vulnerable Arsenal defence under pressure.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Patricio; Doherty, Coady, Saiss; Traore, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny; Jota, Jimenez
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.66
1. Full Time Result – Draw @ 3.75
- After winning their first six Premier League meetings against Wolves, Arsenal have won just one of the last four (D2 L1).
- Wolves are unbeaten in all seven Premier League matches in London since they made their return to the top-flight (W3 D4).
- Arsenal are unbeaten at home this season in their eight matches across all competitions (W6 D2).
- Wolves have have scored a league-high 85 percent of their goals in the second half of their Premier League games this season.
- Seven of Raul Jimenez’s 10 goals in all competitions this season have come away from home.
Player to Watch
To say that Mesut Ozil has had an uphill task to remain a regular under the watchful eye of Unai Emery will be an understatement. As far as this season is concerned, the German playmaker has been largely frozen out, with his appearance at Liverpool in the Carabao Cup being the first time he even made the matchday squad in over a month.
But, after his exploits in the midweek fixture, it is hard to deny the impact that Ozil can have on this struggling Arsenal side. With runners like Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubmeyang flanking him, Ozil can potentially run riot. And, his dominating display against Liverpool will now make it tough for Emery to keep the creative midfielder out of his side.
The game against Wolves now presents Ozil with an opportunity to win the Arsenal manager over and another strong performance could pave the way for a fascinating turnaround. A big game beckons.
Arsenal 2-1 Wolves
Anything regarding Arsenal is hardly predictable these days. So, predicting the result in their game against Wolves might just be one of the more tricky forecasts this season. Having said that, the absence of Willy Boly is a game changer, with Wolves considerably weaker without him.
On the opposite end, the struggles of Sokratis and David Luiz in recent Premier League games will give the visitors some hope. But, if Mesut Ozil starts, as we reckon, Arsenal might be in for a tight win, especially with the former German international looking purposeful upon his return from the cold.
Expect an evenly contested affair which should be bereft of many goalscoring opportunities. But, an Ozil-inspired Arsenal might have just enough to edge Wolves in the end, which is why The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Unai Emery & co.