Wolves Preview: Arsenal Look To Escape The Pack
The chance to erase the memory of St James’ Park presents itself this afternoon as Wolves travel to The Emirates, bouyed by their victory over Manchester United seven days ago. Perhaps we should applaud them onto the pitch for turning a wretched twenty minutes into something not so bad after all. On paper at least.
An unusual international week for Arsène with only one injury to report, Tomáš Rosický returning with a groin strain. The Arsenal manager has a luxury this season with all absentees aside from Thomas Vermaelen, fit for duty in the coming week, Cesc and RvP’s mysterious bugs have cured in the past seven days. Miraculously.
With the visit of Barcelona looming ominously large on the horizon, Wenger has been keen to point out that this afternoon is the only match that matters,
[The derby] will not influence us. We are in a period where the home games are vital and we want to be strong until the end of the season at home.
This is crucial. For Arsenal to win the league, they have purely to concentrate on winning their home games. Today’s visitors ought not to produce too stern a test; they have taken four points from thirty six on their travels this season, the reason that they are second from bottom in the table this morning. It might not be a rout, defeats at the rest of the top four have been by a single goal but a win must be secured.
For Wenger, the personal landmark of his 550th game as manager will be of secondary importance. This season has seen the unexpected on the pitch in the Premier League with none of the frontrunners able to capitalise on a small lead at the top. Should someone be able to do so now, that lead might become insurmountable.
Arsenal are best placed to establish that sort of lead. Wenger will be concerned by the collapse at Newcastle but perhaps the international week has done the players good, taking their concentration onto other footballing matters.
The big decision for Wenger today is whether Johan Djourou starts. The Swiss international has been key to the defensive improvement in recent months. Whilst the report suggesting a sixteen month unbeaten run in the Premier League is disingenuous, twenty six matches since a defeat in the league is an indication of the importance that Djourou is assuming in the team. Here is a vindication of Wenger’s policy of scouring the world for the best talent at younger age.
Wolves have not beaten Arsenal since 1979, a year when they won twice at Highbury. That was a different Wolves era and this afternoon ought to see a home win. Wenger’s XI, despite protestations to the contrary, will have half an eye cast toward midweek but not many surprises:
Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci, Clichy; Fabregas, Song, Wilshere; Walcott, van Persie, Arshavin
For once we will be hoping that City’s obscene wealth produces a team performance at Old Trafford, a win for the visitors would be nice but not something I am pinning my hopes on; a draw will suffice. Arsenal need to win irrespective and forget midweek until the final whistle.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.
Posted on February 12, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Bookmark the permalink. 469 Comments.