Wolves Preview: Time To Show Arsenal’s Fangs
Wolves provide the opposition tonight with Arsenal seeking to continue their good run of form at Molineux, not having lost any of the last fifteen encounters between the two sides, drawing only two of them. Indeed, Arsenal has not lost in Wolverhampton since 1978 although a 5 – 2 drubbing on this day in 1956 dampens that cheers somewhat. Just as well this one is not on 1st December so I don’t have to mention the 7 – 0 in the host’s favour in 1934…
Of more immediate concern is recovering form. Stuttering performances in recent times have suggested confidence is faltering within the squad although as this is an away game, Wolves will not be able to sit back and defend – well, they can but they won’t be very popular with their own fans – as they have been in the two recent clashes with the rest of the top three.
Arsene noted that there were no new casualties, the walking wounded have recovered whilst Robin van Persie appears not to have suffered any long-term ill-effects even though the manager admits he was not ready for Sunday. Which begs the question as to why he was included but we’ll save that for another day.
More worringly is the news that Thomas Vermaelen is going back to the medics, a setback in his recovery giving cause for concern that the usually optimistic Wenger was reticient or unwilling to put any timescales on when the Belgian would be back marshalling the defence. Koscielny lost his appeal unsurprisingly and his place at the back will go to Johan Djourou who should be fresh following his excellent display in Donetsk, a rare plaudit from that particular match.
Elsewhere, the quandry for the manager is whether he rings changes or simply looks at the rest and says, “You screwed up on Sunday, go out and show everyone they were wrong to chastise“. I doubt that will happen though as tonight would be ideal of the pace of Theo Walcott, especially as Wolves will through everything at Arsenal in first twenty minutes, kitchen sink included. The England international will be a useful outlet in this phase of the game.
The only other change would be to give Samir Nasri a well-earned rest for the majority of the game, although quite how much rest he gets having trained with the squad is debatable. Alternatively, Arshavin could be accommodated in the starting XI by omitting Cesc. It was clear on Sunday that he was carrying his injury still and to remove him from this match might be more useful in the long-term with the likelihood being that the Spaniard will be playing three games next week, two for his club, one for country. There is a limit to the involvement for both he and Nasri and whilst a win is needed tonight, it is no less or more important than the trip to Everton.
However, I do not think Wenger will make any voluntary changes this evening which would mean a starting XI of:
Fabianski; Sagna, Djourou, Squillaci, Clichy; Fabregas, Song, Wilshere; Walcott, Chamakh, Nasri
Chelsea has a relatively straightforward win tonight over Fulham but as well as local rivalry, Manchester City has the requirement to beat Manchester United to close the points gap. Arsenal has to win to ensure any slips are taken advantage of and with tough matches upcoming, go into them with good spirits.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.