Arsenal will be hoping to keep their top four aspirations alive tomorrow by beating struggling Wolves at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners recovered from their defeat against Manchester City with a win over Aston Villa to move to within a point of the Champions League places.
Arsene Wenger’s side have been in tremendous form for the last couple of months seeing their season turned on its head following a run of seven wins from eight games seeing them rise from the bottom three and into the top five. The goals of Robin van Persie have played a huge part in their renaissance whilst the performances of Theo Walcott, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Song have been equally as important. However, reservations still remain over the back four with injuries decimating Wenger’s defensive options. Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen still seem susceptible to mistakes with the former at fault for Villa’s goal last Wednesday. It’s still an area of concern for Wenger that will need to be addressed if he is to achieve the goals set out at the start of the campaign and beating Wolves would certainly be a start.
Mick McCarthy’s men once again find themselves battling to beat the drop after a torrid run of form that saw them win just two from their last 15 games.
Wanderers have endured another tough season in the top flight and find themselves hovering perilously close to the drop zone with just one point separating them and third bottom Wigan. The return to form of key striker Steven Fletcher has given them an extra dimension up front but it’s at the back where their weaknesses lie. Winning games away from Molineux has also proved to be difficult with McCarthy’s managing to take just four points from a possible 24 on their travels. Traveling to face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium won’t have been the Christmas present Wolves supporters will have been hoping for, although they will be buoyed by the fact that the three teams below them all face tough Boxing Day fixtures later today.
Arsenal, 5th : 32 points
Team news: Arsenal are without nine first team players although defender Johan Djourou could return from a groin strain in time to face the Latics.
Key Player: Robin van Persie
What a year it’s been for the Dutchman and he’ll be doing all he can to match and beat Alan Shearer’s goal scoring record in a calendar year. Finding the net has become relatively simple for Van Persie in 2011 and he’ll be keen to continue his fine run of form going into the New Year.
Wolverhampton Wanderers, 17th : 15 points
Team news: Key midfielder Jamie O’Hara will be out till February with with a groin problem, but David Edwards could be in line for a comeback at Arsenal.
Key Player: Steven Fletcher
Since returning from injury the Scotland striker has scored three in four games including a winning brace against Sunderland. Fletcher has proven his predatory insticts in the penalty area and will be crucial to his side chances of claiming some points at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal are in blistering form at present and haven’t let their defeat at Man City knock them out of their stride. Wolves, on the other hand, can’t seem to buy a win at the moment and it’s more than likely they’ll be heading back to the Midlands on the back of another defeat.
Written by Jak Penny