Wolves host Gunners in top four bid
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal’s quest to recover their season continues with the tough task of visiting Molineux, the home of Wolverhampton Wanderers. The Gunners have not beaten Wolves since they were promoted the England’s top tier in 2018. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men have claimed two draws and a victory in that time, they are sitting pretty in sixth place. Just two points off the Champions League places, with Leicester City now in the sights of all chasing the top four, just three points above Wolves yet occupying third place. The hosts are narrow favourites, a bigger price than would have been expected but for Arsenal’s improvement in their last two matches.
There has been an obvious approach by Arteta to supply minutes to younger players in this final stretch of the season, in preparation for the next campaign, where he as a managerial appointment will be judged far more. The likes of Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock have seen a lot of first team action with the latter two getting themselves on the scoresheet in a recent win away at Southampton.
The versatile 18-year-old Saka is being tied down to a new long-term contract this week and has been one of the bright lights of this desperately poor campaign. With three goals and nine assists from 33 appearances in all competitions the highest total of set ups at the club, five of which came in the Europa League.
Wolverhampton Wanderers have not conceded in their three games since the resumption of play with the same consistent back three of Willy Boly, Conor Coady and Romain Saiss. Santo loves a small squad and it has worked wel,l despite the team’s run in the Europa League they have kept up the pace domestically and are now on the cusp of Champions League qualification, with the insurance of winning of the EL in their back pocket. A lot easier said than done.
29-year-old Frenchman Boly is the standout ball winner in that back three, averaging 2.5 tackles per game, the most in the league for players who have over five appearances. He joined the club initially on loan from Porto in the summer of 2017, helping the club to the Championship title before capturing the imagination of the Premier League to finish seventh in their first season back in the big time.
All aspects have improved of late for the Gunners however it was against two bottom half outfits and Wolves pose a much tougher challenge. You can be certain the likes of Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez will provide an intense examination of Arsenal’s often suspect defence.