Arsenal

Arsenal line ups vs wolves withramsdale recall arteta appoints new role for Kai havertz but no Rice

Preview: Arsenal vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers – prediction, team news, lineups
By Ben Knapton, Senior Reporter | 1d
On the back of an emphatic victory over Lens to seal their spot in the last 16 of the Champions League, Arsenal return to Premier League duty with the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers to the Emirates on Saturday.

Mikel Arteta’s side ran riot in a 6-0 beating of Lens to top their European group, while Gary O’Neil’s men have had a few days to reflect on an excruciating 3-2 loss to Fulham, where VAR controversy reared its ugly head once more.
Flash back to October 3, where Arsenal’s effervescent attackers were quelled by a stingy Lens backline at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis as they suffered their first defeat of the season in any competition, but revenge was a dish best served with six goals on Wednesday evening.

Unlike many of their Premier League counterparts, who operate in a low block and spend the majority of the game trying to stifle Arteta’s men, Lens continuously left space for the Gunners to exploit, and the rampant North London crop took full advantage with five goals in a merciless first-half mauling.

A Jorginho penalty for good measure ensured that Arsenal would put their ball in the pot for the last-16 draw as Group B winners, but Arteta typically refused to get too carried away in the moment, as while the Gunners’ first-placed ranking in Europe is safe, their position at the Premier League summit is not.

Prior to drawing first blood against Lens, Kai Havertz’s first goal from open play in 31 games saw Arsenal rise to top spot in the English top flight with a nail-biting 1-0 win over local foes Brentford, but Manchester City, Liverpool and Aston Villa are all within touching distance of Arteta’s troops, who boast the best defensive record in the division with a mere 10 strikes conceded.

The six-goal obliteration of Lens marked a fourth triumph in a row across all competitions for the Premier League leaders, who are yet to suffer a single defeat at their Emirates fortress in 2023-24 and could now equal a club record of scoring in 32 games versus a single opponent, having not been shut out by Wolves since 1979.
The customary exchanging of pleasantries between Arteta and O’Neil will precede 90 minutes where neither manager is the other’s friend, but the two head coaches may take a moment to share their recent officiating gripes after Wolves fell victim to more debatable decisions at Craven Cottage on Monday.

Referee Michael Salisbury pointed to the spot on no fewer than three occasions in the second half, where a pair of penalties from ex-Arsenal man Willian – including one deep into injury time – proved telling, but a crestfallen O’Neil was apparently told after the game that as many as three decisions to go against his side were incorrect.
Repeated PGMOL apologies have done little to soften the blow for Wolves, who could be seven points better off had VAR not incorrectly intervened on numerous occasions, and O’Neil conceded that he has finally reached the end of his tether with technology after Monday’s unjust defeat.

Nevertheless, Wolves remain in the safe haven of mid-table with a third of the season played, occupying 12th spot with a 10-point buffer to the relegation places, and this weekend’s visitors to the Emirates have now found the back of the net in each of their last 12 Premier League games.

Wolves have seen their own backline breached in 11 of those contests, though, and Arsenal boast four wins from their last four Premier League clashes with the West Midlands side, who nearly suffered the same fate as Lens in a 5-0 final-day hammering at the Emirates last season.

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