On paper this seems like a cakewalk. Arsenal are the Premier League’s form team, while Wolves are the exact opposite. They languish at the bottom of the table six points from safety while Arsenal are currently leading the race for Champions League qualification. It may not be that simple however.
Frustration at Christmas
In the last meeting between these sides on December 27th, Arsenal seemed to be cruising to victory when a Steven Fletcher goal and a brilliant goalkeeping display from Wayne Hennessey held the Gunners to a 1-1 draw.
At this point however, Wolves were still under the stewardship of Mick McCarthy and weren’t doing all that poorly.
Arsenal have slipped up against struggling sides several times this year, and the defeat at QPR will weigh heavily on their minds. Wolves can frustrate teams if they have a good day, and Arsenal cannot allow complacency to slip into their preparations.
Arsenal have a few more reasons to worry. Laurent Koscielny is suspended after a 10th yellow card of the season, and his likely replacement Johan Djourou is feared around the Emirates due to his performances that range from shaky to utterly appalling.
Kieran Gibbs and Gervinho are out with knocks, while the game has come too early for Abou Diaby after his latest injury debacle.
Wolves have no new injury worries other than the continued absence of Jamie O’Hara and Stephen Hunt, while captain Roger Johnson may return after being dropped for the game at Stoke.
Wolves have utterly awful home form, and will be low on morale, but you never know in football.
Robin Van Persie needs a goal after a four-match drought, though other members of the Arsenal side have stepped in for him goal-wise, showing that they are far from a one-man team.
Theo Walcott was poor against City and will also be looking to regain some form. Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky are probably Arsenal’s greatest threats as the standout performers of the last two weeks.
Johan Djourou would do well to avoid touching the ball, or getting injured, necessitating the appearance of the dreaded Squillaci.
As for Wolves, Matt Jarvis and Michael Kightly have been their brightest hopes recently, but even they seem to be out of form. Wolves essentially need their entire team to start turning up, but that seems fairly unlikely. Wayne Hennessey will have memories of his display at the Emirates and could take confidence from that.
The referee will be Andre Mariner, who officiated over Arsenal’s 7-1 demolition of Blackburn earlier in the season. Fans will be hoping for a repeat performance.