Mikel Arteta will want Arsenal to maintain their position at the table’s summit when they host an unpredictable Wolves at the Emirates.

Arsenal took full advantage of the proceedings between title challengers Manchester City and Liverpool at the Etihad, which ended in a draw, helping them remain rise to the top of the table ahead of the visit of Wolves this weekend. The Gunners played late on Saturday away at Brentford, who made them work hard to get the three points.

Kai Havertz’s 89th-minute goal proved the difference, which took Arsenal to the top of the table, where they have a slender one-point advantage over Manchester City. The German was again on the scoresheet during midweek, as the Gunners crushed RC Lens 6-0 with six different scorers on the list. The victory sealed their path into the UEFA Champions League knockout stages as group winners.

With Arsenal’s European campaign on track, Mikel Arteta will want complete focus from his players on league matters. He will demand no less than a victory at home against an unpredictable Wolves side, as these are games where the Gunners must show their superiority and maintain momentum at the top of the table, knowing well any slip-ups will have consequences.

Gary O’Neil was back at it against officiating after some error-prone VAR decisions cost his team another point or probably three on Monday night. Post-match replays of the penalty incident showed the VAR should have made better calls on the night, with Fulham also escaping at least two clear red cards.

This is not the first time VAR has cost Wolves this season, and O’Neil will know proper decisions would have seen his side take up a better position on the table. The game against Fulham had three penalty calls, with the final one ultimately benefitting the Cottagers, who secured a much-needed win.

Wolves are currently 12th, and on an inconsistent run of form. They may have produced stellar results against Manchester City and Tottenham but have stumbled on the road, suffering defeats in their last two games against Sheffield United and Fulham. It puts into perspective the importance of getting something out of the Emirates, although O’Neil will know the difficulties in achieving something away at Arsenal.

Team News & Tactics


Before the midweek clash with RC Lens, Mikel Arteta revealed Fabio Vieira was set for a spell on the sidelines after undergoing groin surgery. The Portuguese midfielder was banned for two more games in the Premier League but now will spend extended periods on the sidelines.

He joins Thomas Partey, Emile Smith Rowe and Jurrien Timber in the treatment room, with the latter likely to miss the entire season. Apart from that, Arsenal came through midweek unscathed, with Arteta still thinking about how to tweak a side that trumped RC Lens by a 6-0 scoreline. David Raya will also return between the sticks in the Premier League after being ineligible against Brentford last weekend.

Hence, Arteta might retain the same starting eleven, although there Ben White and Jorginho could start. Yet, the form of Takehiro Tomiyasu and Kai Havertz will make the manager think hard about making changes. However, he will keep Martin Odegaard in the side after a period of absence for the Gunners skipper.

Leandro Trossard was unfortunate to miss out on starting the RC Lens clash, although Gabriel Jesus showed why Arteta was right to select him instead of the Belgian attacker. Hence, the Brazilian international has more chance to start up front, with Trossard likely a bench option.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Raya; Tomiyasu, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Odegaard, Rice, Havertz; Saka, Jesus, Martinelli


Gary O’Neil will rue his luck not only with VAR but also with player availability. During the Fulham clash, he might have lost at least three of his starters ahead of the trip to the Emirates. Rayan Ait-Nouri hobbled off with an ankle sprain around the 19th minute, which will likely keep him out of the Arsenal clash, although Wolves will decide after a late assessment.

Meanwhile, key midfield duo Mario Lemina and Joao Gomes picked up their fifth yellow card of the season, which will see them miss out on the Arsenal clash. Wolves are already missing Pedro Neto with a hamstring problem, and Joe Hodge, who will return around January after undergoing shoulder surgery.

On the positive side, key defender Craig Dawson will return to the setup after serving a one-game suspension. He will straight away replace Santiago Bueno in the back three. Matt Doherty seems best-placed to replace Ait-Nouri if the Algerian international does not pass his late fitness test.

Tommy Doyle and Boubacar Traore are the likely candidates to come into the Wolves midfield alongside Jean-Ricner Bellegarde. Max Kilman and Toti Gomes should complete the backline, while Matheus Cunha and Hwang Hee-chan should take the front two positions for Wolves against Arsenal.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Jose Sa; Kilman, Dawson, Toti; Semedo, Bellegarde, Traore, Doyle, Doherty; Hwang, Cunha

Key Stats

  • Arsenal are undefeated in 13 of their last 14 matches in the Premier League.
  • Arsenal have won their last four matches against Wolves in all competitions.
  • Gabriel Jesus has scored six goals against Wolves. Only against Everton (8) and Leicester City (7) has he scored more in the Premier League.
  • Wolves have scored in each of their last 12 Premier League games.
  • Wolves have conceded a goal in 11 of their last 12 games in the Premier League.

Player to Watch

Gabriel Jesus

Despite concerns about making an early return from a hamstring problem, Jesus has started three games in the space of a week for club and country. There were thoughts about Mikel Arteta keeping Gabriel Jesus on the bench against RC Lens. But the Brazilian showed how valuable he is starting as Arsenal’s No.9.

His record against Wolves in the Premier League also speaks volumes, which could see him start at the Emirates. More importantly, Jesus is starting to show why he is one of the best forwards and is steadily returning to his best form. A good performance at the weekend will go a long way from convincing Arteta that the Gunners do not need a new striker in January, something that will play in the Brazilian’s mind.


Arsenal 2-0 Wolves

Arsenal came through last season with a questionable defensive record at home. But they have somewhat corrected that thus far this season. The Gunners have kept seven clean sheets in eight European games at the Emirates, and Mikel Arteta will want that form in the Premier League. They have managed only two shutouts at home in the league this season and will aim for a third.

Wolves have had a decent record against big teams, managing wins over Manchester City and Spurs this season. Those have all come on home soil, and the Midlands outfit have struggled against Arsenal at the Emirates. One would expect them to come second best on Saturday, as the Gunners are clear favourites to take the three points and keep their place at the table’s summit.

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