An in-form Arsenal side are bracing themselves for a visit from a confident Wolves side, with both teams in the conversation for a top-four finish.
Since their disappointing draw to Burnley, Arsenal have since taken six points out of six against Wolves and Brentford, making their intentions clear to their rivals by keeping the momentum going in the top-four race.
Both those games showed two sides of Mikel Arteta’s side. First, they narrowly won at the Molineux despite being a man down for the last 20 minutes, putting in a massive defensive shift. Then, at home to Brentford, the Gunners showed an attacking intent that had been missing since December.
Those results and recent dropped points from their rivals have seen Arsenal come to within four points of fourth-placed Manchester United, with three games in hand over the Red Devils. A positive result against Wolves on Thursday will see the Gunners overtake West Ham in fifth place, who don’t play until the weekend.
Meanwhile, Wolves will be coming to the Emirates in top form and seeking revenge for their defeat to the Gunners a fortnight ago. Since losing that clash, Bruno Lage’s men have kept the pressure on the teams above them by beating Tottenham and Leicester City, to stay alive in the chase for a top-four spot. The Midlands club will have the fifth spot temporarily if they beat Arsenal at the Emirates.
Wolves also boast one of the meanest defence in the Premier League, with only Manchester City conceding fewer goals than Bruno Lage’s men. It certainly promises to be a tough contest, as both teams would be aiming to keep their momentum intact and push for the coveted fourth spot on the table.
Team News & Tactics
Mikel Arteta has no new injury problems ahead of the Wolves clash. The Spaniard will have a fully-fit squad at his disposal. There are unlikely to be many changes to the team made by the manager although there could be a few selection dilemmas.
Ready to go, @GabiMartinelli? 🤙
Our brand new training edit is now live 👇#ARSWOL
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) February 23, 2022
Arteta could look to bring back Takehiro Tomiyasu, who was on the bench against Brentford despite Cedric Soares being exceptional in the last two games. The rest of the backline is expected to remain intact.
The manager will have to take a call on whether to bring back Gabriel Martinelli into the lineup or stick with Emile Smith Rowe. The latter scored against Brentford to make his case.
After the Brentford game, Arteta also spoke about playing Smith Rowe in the false-nine role, although it may be more of a risk at this stage of the season. It does seem like the 21-year-old will have to settle for a place on the bench, with Martinelli expected to come back into the lineup.
Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka will continue to marshall the central midfield area, with Martin Odegaard in the advanced role ahead of them. Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette will complete the front three.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Lacazette
Bruno Lage has confirmed Rayan Ait-Nouri should be fit to play in midweek despite being hauled off at half-time against Leicester City last weekend. The left wing-back might be rotated and be on the bench, with Marcal likely to take his spot in the team.
Looking sharp 🔥
— Wolves (@Wolves) February 23, 2022
Yerson Mosquera and Willy Boly have returned to full training but are unlikely to be rushed back. Pedro Neto featured for a few minutes against Leicester City over the weekend as he made his long-awaited comeback from a serious injury. He is expected to remain on the bench again and slowly work his way to full fitness.
Max Kilman, Conor Coady and Romain Saiss are the players expected to form the three-man backline, with Jose Sa firmly settled behind them in goal. Nelson Semedo will continue to operate as the right wing-back, with Marcal on the opposite flank.
Bruno Lage may keep his midfield trio of Ruben Neves, Leander Dendoncker and Joao Moutinho intact. Raul Jimenez and Daniel Podence should keep their places in attack and attempt to unlock the Arsenal defence.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Jose Sa; Kilman, Coady, Saiss; Semedo, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Marcal; Jimenez, Podence
- Arsenal have failed to win their last four Premier League home games against Wolves.
- Arsenal have picked up three red cards in their last two games against Wolves in the Premier League.
- Bukayo Saka has scored five goals in his last six Premier League games.
- Wolves have won their last four away matches in the Premier League.
- Wolves have won six and lost once in their last eight Premier League games.
Player To Watch
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) February 22, 2022
The Norwegian has hit a rich vein of form without getting himself on the scoresheet or assist charts. A player who operates in the No. 10 role, Odegaard is an attacking midfielder who is extremely strong in possession. His burgeoning partnership with Saka in the right side channel will be the key factor in unlocking a stubborn Wolves defence.
He is slowly becoming the leader in attack for the Gunners and has shown his immense capabilities of stitching together moves that materialise into shots. He will again be under the spotlight as Arteta will be hoping his playmaker will pull the strings and secure another win for the Gunners.
Arsenal 2-1 Wolves
Arsenal have been in great form at the Emirates, something Arteta hopes will continue against Wolves. The Gunners’ attacking unit against Brentford showed a different level as they put in a classy performance.
Arsenal are set to keep their newfound principles intact and try to put Wolves on the back foot right from the opening whistle. Wolves have the attacking potency to hurt a defensively solid team like the Gunners, which could see them score an odd goal. But the home side is expected to take all three points from this encounter and keep up the pressure on their rivals.