I guess now we have moved past winter and entered the Cliché season. So every game will be like a Cup Final. Home games are a must win. No team can be underestimated, certainly not Wolves who’ve just beaten The Pretenders. So on and so forth, I could probably write a thousand words just with clichés; but don’t worry, a headache and a modicum of common sense will prevent me from doing that.
Barring Nasri, Arsenal should have a strong first eleven available for this game. Djourou has been declared fit and while I haven’t heard an unequivocal declaration that Song is fit, I’ll be surprised if the Cameroonian doesn’t start.
There isn’t much to discuss as far as the starting eleven goes,
Szczesny – Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy – Song, Cesc, Wilshere – Walcott, RvP, Arshavin.
Many of these players got a decent rest in midweek. Sagna and Arshavin might have some tired legs but I expect them to put in the hard graft.
Wolves are a team that never stop chasing the ball and generally maintain their organization. It’s not easy to find spaces against such a side. Last season we needed a late strike from Bendtner and this game could be equally tight.
Leaving Karl Henry aside, I like the way Wolves have been playing this season and must say they have been rather unlucky with some results. For a team that has already won against United, Chelsea, and City, albeit at home, their position in the league table does not tell the whole story.
Part of their problem has been a number of individual mistakes during games and that has cost them goals and results. In the reverse fixture Chamakh scored inside a minute and that is probably the fastest goal of the season. I doubt such a feat can be repeated as in an away game the opponents will be cautious from the start. Nonetheless, Arsenal have to be quick off the blocks and look for an early goal. If the visitors do show some attacking ambition Theo could have a big impact on the game. If we come up against a parked bus Cesc and RvP will have to produce the magic.
Their other weakness is that they don’t score enough goals as can be seen from their tally of 26 goals in 25 games, which is joint lowest in the league. Away from home they have scored only 9 goals in 12 games but I must remind you that before the last game, Newcastle had only scored 4 goals in 9 games against Arsenal.
We will be tested on set-pieces. United conceded two and it can be argued they lost the game on free-kicks. Wolves have a creative approach to set plays and don’t mind taking it short and quick. They also push plenty of bodies forward and many of their players can be a threat in the air. The Gunners will have to be alert and must not drop their heads even for a few seconds.
In this regard we will benefit from the return of Djourou who will provide a presence in the box. Did you know that the Swiss defender is currently on a 26 game unbeaten run, longest of any present player, in the Premier League? The last time Arsenal lost with Djourou in the team was in November 2008 against City. I wasn’t aware of this till a few minutes back when I saw an interview mentioning this detail. Hopefully, the centre back will stay fit and extend the run till the end of the season. As discussed in the last post an undefeated end to the season could just be the making of this team.