Arsenal vs. Wolves
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Kick off: 4:30PM
Arsenal will be hoping to break back into the Premier League’s top four ahead of the international break as they welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers to the Emirates Stadium this afternoon.
The Gunners have gone nine matches without defeat in the top flight, but back-to-back draws have seen them drop down to fifth place in what is shaping up to be another tight battle for a Champions League berth.
Arsenal stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to 15 matches on Thursday evening with a bland goalless draw against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League – a game overshadowed by a nasty injury sustained by Danny Welbeck.
Unai Emery also lost Stephan Lichtsteiner to injury in that Group E clash, taking the shine off what was a good enough result to send his side through to the last 32 of the competition with minimal fuss.
Top spot is still up for grabs in the remaining two matches, but between now and February all focus can turn to the domestic stage, where Arsenal are battling strong in the Premier League and EFL Cup, while the FA Cup will get up and running in two months’ time.
If bettering last term’s sixth-place finish under Arsene Wenger in the league is Emery’s immediate priority, challenging for silverware in one of those three other competitions will also be high on the agenda.
Even with three draws in their last four matches, the only win in that sequence coming against lower-league side Blackpool in the EFL Cup last 16, there is a real feel-good factor around the red half of North London thanks to the work of Emery since succeeding Wenger during the summer.
A return to winning ways this weekend will ensure that Arsenal are on their best unbeaten league run since December 2016, though the sceptics will point out that they have lost to Manchester City and Chelsea, while also drawing with Liverpool, in their only major Premier League tests to date.
That is something that Emery admits he is working on, but seeing off mid-table opposition such as Wolves is not something that exactly came easy during Wenger’s final couple of seasons.
Ahead of a tough December that sees Arsenal face neighbours Tottenham Hotspur in league and cup, as well as Manchester United and Liverpool at either end of the month, Emery will be keen to put three more points on the board to keep this steady momentum building.
Arsenal possible XI: Leno, Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac, Torreira, Xhaka, Iwobi, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette.
Wolves possible XI: Patricio, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Jonny, Costa, Jimenez, Cavaleiro.