Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side travel to Molineux on Tuesday night to take on a woefully out-of-form Wolverhampton Wanderers side, who have so far failed to replace the goals of injured striker Raul Jimenez.
It’s fair to say they’ve struggled since the Portuguese talisman fractured his skull in the reverse fixture at the Emirates, with Wolves currently on an eight game winless streak in the Premier League.
The West Midlands outfit simply haven’t found the attacking firepower they need from their other forwards, generating just 4.81xG in their seven games against top half opposition since the start of December.
Now they face an Arsenal side who, despite only being 10th in the table, are one of the division’s form sides right now.
The Gunners have picked up 17 points from their last seven games (after earning just 14 from their first 14 matches) and are looking to do the double over Wolves for the first time since 2010/11.
The introduction of exciting young players has given a new lease of life to Mikel Arteta’s side, with Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe more than proving their worth to their manager.
It’s a worry then that the former is facing a race to be fit for this one, whilst the latter will face stiff competition for his place in the side from new arrival Martin Odegaard.
The highly-rated young Norwegian joined on loan from Real Madrid last week, having contributed 7 goals and 9 assists in 36 games for Real Sociedad last season.
Odegaard could actually make his full debut against a former teammate, as striker Willian Jose is set to start up-front for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side for the second consecutive game after joining to deputise the aforementioned Jimenez.
To be honest, it’s hard to pick a side for this game. Arsenal are the form team but Wolves at home can pick up a result against anyone (as they proved against Chelsea in December) and, whilst Arsenal have kept five clean sheets in their last six league games, Wolves have seen both sides score in four of their last five at Molineux.
I think the best way to attack this game is from the cards angle, given there were seven cards when these sides last met.
With the defensive injuries that Wolves have it looks as though Nelson Semedo will start at LWB, which could be a problem for Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin.
He’ll have to contend with his pacy counterpart and likely one of Pedro Neto or Daniel Podence, which isn’t what you want to hear when you have seven cards in 18 games – including one in the reverse fixture.
Furthermore, the referee for this one has a nice track record of booking the Spaniard.
Craig Pawson has booked Bellerin for his first foul in both of the Arsenal games he has refereed already this season.