Friday, March 1, 2024

Prediction: Arsenal vs Wolverhampton Wanderers

Verdict: Total home goals over 2.5

Best odds: 5/4

Bookmaker: 888sport

Following their convincing win over Lens that secured their place in the Champions League round of 16, Arsenal resume their Premier League campaign by hosting Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Emirates Stadium this Saturday.

Mikel Arteta’s men nailed a resounding 6-0 victory against Lens, getting their revenge on the Ligue 1 side for inflicting them with their only defeat in the group in the five matches played so far. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if Wolves have managed to get over the controversial defeat to Fulham in their last outing, with VAR becoming a centre of negative attention in the Premier League once more.

Arsenal

In early October, Arsenal faced a sturdy Lens defense at Stade Bollaert-Delelis, succumbing to their first defeat of the season across all competitions. However, redemption arrived in emphatic fashion on Wednesday as they notched up a spectacular six-goal revenge.

Contrary to several Premier League teams employing a defensive low block against Arteta’s squad, Lens opted for a more open approach, leaving considerable spaces for Arsenal’s attackers to exploit. The result was a devastating first-half onslaught, securing five goals and sealing the game’s fate. Adding a Jorginho penalty underscored Arsenal’s claim to the Group B summit, although Arteta maintained a composed outlook, mindful of the ongoing competition for the Premier League’s top spot.

Before dismantling Lens, Kai Havertz’s goal marked Arsenal’s ascent to the top of the Premier League table, narrowly clinching a 1-0 victory against local rivals Brentford. Despite the remarkable defensive prowess, conceding only 10 goals so far, Arsenal, topping the table with 30 points, face close contention from Manchester City (29), Liverpool and Aston Villa (both 28) in the league standings.

This commanding victory extended Arsenal’s winning streak to four matches in all competitions. Moreover, their undefeated streak at the Emirates Stadium in the 2023/24 season continues, positioning them to potentially match a club record of scoring in 32 consecutive games against Wolves, a team that hasn’t been able to keep a clean sheet against the Gunners since 1979.

Team News

In addition to Fabio Vieira’s absence due to a three-game domestic suspension, the Arsenal playmaker won’t be seen on the field this weekend as he recuperates from a groin surgery, leaving him sidelined for several weeks.

Joining Vieira in the treatment room are long-term absentees Thomas Partey (thigh), Emile Smith Rowe, and Jurrien Timber (both knee injuries). There’s a possibility that Partey and Smith Rowe might return by the New Year, although no new injury concerns have surfaced following Wednesday’s game.

During half-time, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Oleksandr Zinchenko were substituted for Ben White and Jakub Kiwior, seemingly as tactical changes given Arsenal’s commanding five-goal lead. David Raya will return to his spot between the posts after being ineligible to play against his parent club, Brentford.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Before their teams clash on the pitch, Mikel Arteta and Gary O’Neil, despite their amicable relationship, might discuss their recent grievances about officiating, especially after Wolves experienced contentious decisions at Craven Cottage on Monday.

In the second half of the match, referee Michael Salisbury awarded three penalties, two converted by former Arsenal player Willian, including one in added time. O’Neil, disappointed by the outcome, revealed that after the game, he was informed that three decisions against his team were erroneous.

Despite apologies from the match officials’ body, these rulings have left Wolves feeling aggrieved. O’Neil expressed his frustration, suggesting that Monday’s loss was the breaking point in his tolerance of technology’s influence on the game.

Wolves, sitting comfortably in mid-table at 12th place, have maintained consistent scoring form, finding the net in their last 12 Premier League matches. However, their defence has been breached in 11 of those games. Arsenal, on the other hand, have a perfect record of four wins in their last four Premier League encounters with Wolves. Last season, Wolves experienced a heavy defeat in a 5-0 loss at the Emirates Stadium.

Team News

Against Fulham, Wolves faced another setback as left-back Rayan Ait-Nouri had to be substituted just 19 minutes into the game due to an ankle sprain. It seems unlikely that the 22-year-old will be available for the upcoming weekend’s match. However, Hugo Bueno, Jonny Otto, and Matt Doherty are all capable of stepping in as replacements.

There’s some positive news in defense with Craig Dawson returning from suspension, but Pedro Neto, who has been linked with Arsenal, is still on the path to recovery from a thigh injury. Additionally, Joe Hodge is eyeing a return following a shoulder operation, possibly in January.

With Dawson returning after serving his suspension, he is expected to slot directly into the visitors’ defensive setup, likely replacing Santiago Bueno. Upfront, Hwang Hee-chan and Matheus Cunha are set to resume their productive partnership.

Conclusion

Arsenal supporters may not entertain the idea of witnessing another six-goal onslaught, as their team is likely to encounter a more defensively cautious Wolves compared to the disjointed Lens side. However, O’Neil’s defensive lineup isn’t particularly solid.

While the visitors occasionally compensate for their defensive weaknesses with attacking prowess, it’s hard to foresee them extending their scoring streak in North London. Arteta’s side is expected to breach their defense several times, maintaining their grip on the top spot.

Verdict: Total home goals over 2.5

Best odds: 5/4

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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