Arsenal and Wolves will face off at the Molineux on Saturday, in a clash that could have huge repercussions in the race for the European spots.
Arsenal will make the trip to the West Midlands this weekend as they gear up to take on Wolverhampton Wanderers in Matchweek 31 of the 2019/20 Premier League.
Wolves are the form team in the Premier League currently, with Nuno Espirito Santo’s men the only side to maintain a 100 per cent record in the competition since the restart. In the three matches after the campaign resumed, they have scored four goals, while conceding none, with their latest fixture against Aston Villa ending in a 1-0 triumph.
This has meant that Wolves have closed down the gap to fourth-placed Chelsea to just two points, although they remain sixth in the table, owing to a poorer goal difference in comparison to Manchester United in fifth. However, in Arsenal, the Midlands’ outfit will be facing their most difficult test since the season restarted.
The Gunners started things in the worst possible manner with defeats to Manchester City and Brighton. But they have racked up three wins in a row in all competitions, most recently thrashing Norwich City 4-0 earlier this week. Mikel Arteta’s side are now eighth in the table and a win on Saturday would see them move to seventh, closing the gap to Wolves to just three points.
The reverse fixture, played at the Emirates back in November. ended in a 1-1 stalemate, with Raul Jimenez cancelling out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s first half goal. And ahead of their latest meeting this weekend, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Nuno Espirito Santo has absolutely no injury concerns heading into the game against Arsenal. With a full-strength squad that is well-rested after a six-day break, Wolves are unlikely to make a host of changes to the side that defeated Aston Villa last time out.
Wolves are likely to continue in a 3-5-2 setup rather than switch to a 3-4-3 with an extra body in midfield likely to come in handy to stop Arsenal’s buildup play. In goal, there is no looking past the experienced Rui Patricio, while Willy Boly, captain Conor Coady and Romain Saiss will form the three-man backline shielding him.
Matt Doherty and Jonny Castro are the obvious choices in the wing-back slots for the home team. The three-man central midfield unit ought to comprise of the experienced Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves, both of whom will pose a threat from their set-piece deliveries.
Leander Dendoncker, who scored the only goal against Aston Villa, will take up the third slot in the middle and look to offer support with his late forward runs.
Raul Jimenez is a guaranteed starter upfront. Diogo Jota was his partner last time out, but Nuno would most likely bring back the brilliant Adama Traore, who could enjoy a field day against a susceptible Arsenal defence.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny; Traore, Jimenez
Mikel Arteta has no fresh injury concerns heading into Saturday’s game. However, he will continue to be without the services of Bernd Leno, Calum Chambers, Gabriel Martinelli and Pablo Mari. Mesut Ozil is closing in on a return and could be available, while Lucas Torreira is also fit and could be involved against Wolves.
Emiliano Martinez has given a good account of himself since replacing Leno and will continue between the sticks at the Molineux.
After the midweek win, the Arsenal manager might look to stick with the three-man defensive setup he utilised against Norwich. David Luiz should once again start at the centre, flanked by Shkodran Mustafi and Sead Kolasinac, although Rob Holding would be pushing for a start as well.
Cedric Soares made his debut for Arsenal against Norwich coming on as a substitute and scored a goal. However, Hector Bellerin should continue at right wing-back, while Kieran Tierney as a certainty to feature on the opposite side. The midfield axis of Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka has clicked well in recent games and Arteta should not tinker with that.
Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a certainty on the left flank for the Gunners. But there should be alterations in the remaining two slots, with Eddie Nketiah and Nicolas Pepe replacing Alexandre Lacazette and Reiss Nelson, respectively.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Martinez; Mustafi, Luiz, Kolasinac; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Tierney; Pepe, Nketiah, Aubameyang
- Wolves are unbeaten in their last three league games against Arsenal (W1 D2). The last time they had a longer such run against the North Londoners was betwen December 1973 – August 1975 ( 5 matches).
- Arsenal lost this exact fixture last season, ending an eight-game unbeaten run against Wolves in the Premier League. They have not lost consecutive away games against the Midlands outfit since February 1975.
- Arsenal haven’t won any of their last 17 Premier League away games against teams that start the day higher than them in the table (D5 L12). Their last such victory came in September 2015 against Leicester City (5-2).
- Wolves are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League games (W5 D3), keeping a clean sheet in seven of those fixtures. Indeed, Nuno Espirito Santo’s men haven’t let in a goal in 405 minutes.
- Arsenal have won five of their last seven Premier League matches (L2), one more than they won in their previous 23 encounters (W4 D13 L6).
Player to Watch
After a four-game run without a goal in the Premier League, the Arsenal skipper managed to break the rut last time out against Norwich and did so in style. Aubameyang bagged a brace against the Canaries, while setting up one more to lead his team to a handsome win.
The Gabonese striker, who has 19 goals in the league this term, has another unique record staring at him. He needs one more goal to become only the second Arsenal player to score 20 goals in consecutive Premier League seasons after Thierry Henry, who breached the 20-goal mark five seasons in a row.
Wolves 1-1 Arsenal
It will be a crucial encounter for both the teams. Wolves, with a win, could strengthen their chances of a top four finish, whereas a victory for Arsenal would put further gap between themselves and the chasing pack for the Europa League spots, while also providing them with an outside chance of a shot at Champions League qualification.
Both the teams head into the game on the back of a positive run of results. Wolves’ defence have been resolute and hard to break down, while Arsenal too have shown some resilience at the back in the last couple of matches.
The attacking departments of both teams possess explosive players who can change the course of the game at any given moment, making this match a tough one to call. All things considered, The Hard Tackle predicts this one to end in a 1-1 draw, with both teams sharing the spoils.