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EPL Match Day 27: Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers

So after a week away, I am wandering have we suitably beaten the dead horse that was that epic collapse to Newcastle? Are you ready to move on to the next match as am I? Frankly, after I my own hiatus to respect the mindlessness that useless international friendlies I am ready for some Arsenal football. And who better to take on than Mick McCarthy and those Wolverhampton Wanderers.

So after a week away, I am wandering have we suitably beaten the dead horse that was that epic collapse to Newcastle? Are you ready to move on to the next match as am I? Frankly, after I my own hiatus to respect the mindlessness that useless international friendlies I am ready for some Arsenal football. And who better to take on than Mick McCarthy and those Wolverhampton Wanderers.

You may know those Wolves very well. They are the ones who made last weekends fall from grace a little more easy to take as the took 3 points from United and preserved Arsenal’s place in history as one of only two clubs to ever go unbeaten for an entire season. They also gifted Arsenal some breathing room as Arsenal were able to play like crap for 45 minutes and still manage to close the gap – albeit by one point – on United.

So what’s that mean? Well it basically means two things – 1 – don’t take Wolves lightly. They managed to handle United quite well and 2 – if there was ever a team to be up to play for it was this one.

This is a match that has a lt of meaning behind it. The main thing is it is the type of game that is going to show whether or not this Arsenal side have matured or not. One of things I admire about Fergie’s sides is their ability to rebound after a bad outting. They in a very business like manner put the bad match behind them and move. If Arsenal are going to really show their title credentials then they must completely erase any thought of last week’s match focus on the task at hand and do the deed against Wolves.

The good news is aplenty for Gunners as two players whom fans feared would be out for a while will feature in the match. First is Alex Song who missed the match against Newcastle with a thigh injury. He is back and will be holding down his role in the middle of the pitch.

Also set for a return is Johann Djourou. Djourou went off immediately after the start of the 2nd half against Newcastle with what was reported as a knee injury. It was quite unnerving for a while as there was no news on the prognosis and it left Gooners fearing the worst. Well, in the middle of the week. the Swiss FA came out an reported that essentiall JD had a received a kick to the knee that had caused swelling and bruising but nothing more.  So the man who has proven to be our best defencive specialist this season is set to feature as well.

All this is good as that only leaves one gapping absence from our regular team and that is Samir Nasri. Filling in is Andrei Arshavin who is starting to show signs that he is knocking off his bad form and could be peaking at really the right time. He was the key to unlocking Newcastle early. And the week before his first goal in a while brought out a sheer smile on his face.

In my mind it is important for the Gunners to come out like they did against Newcastle and play a complete game of utter beautiful devastation. Get the game done with early so that it forces the match open and takes the impetus off of Wolves to close up shop and play rough ball. The last thing any one wants is for any of our prime players to go down ahead of the midweek tie against Barcelona. Get all the pent up frustration about last week’s match over with early and show the home fans that you are for real.

By the grace of all that is good Arsenal still find themselves a viable title contender in a season of wackiness and “parity.” They need to keep on it. With the Manchester Derby on tap for the day, Arsenal can at best find themselves level on points with United at worst . . . well I don’t want to go there.

How the Match Should Play Out:
I really expect Arsenal to come out flying. I don’t suspect any of the lads could hold their heads up after last week’s display. And I think they are looking to come out and put things right. I doubt they will score in the first minute of the match but they are going to apply the pressure often. And as good as Wolves are, they have shown that they simply are not a scoring team – especially on the road. Arsenal are going to get the first goal and force the match to open up for them at which point they will shred the Wolves. With a mature Song and healthy Djourou back, I do not expect a repeat of last week’s antics.

Players to Watch:
Arsenal: Johann Djourou. He has proved time and time again this season that is one of the pieces of the puzzle we have missed in our defencive set up. The statistics on goals against Arsenal when he is in the line up are amazing. He simply is a force to be reckoned with in the middle of the pitch and makes everyone around him better – just ask Koscielny.

Wolves: Honestly I don’t know much about their players. So I got nothing for ya here.

Probable Starting XI:

Arsenal 4-2-1-2-1 Wolves 4-5-1

Injuries and Suspensions:

Arsenal:  Diaby (Suspension-3) Nasri (Hamstring) Fabianski (shoulder) Rosicky (groin) Frimpong (knee), Vermaelen (Achilles)

Wolves: Hunt (calf) Guedioura (broken leg) Kightly (knee) Mancienne (knee)

Leading Scorers:
Arsenal: Nasri 14 (9 league) Chamakh 10 (7 league) Walcott 11 (8 league)

Wolves: Fletcher 6 (4 league) Doyle 6 (3 league)

Last Meeting: (EPL)
Arsenal: 2
Wolves: 0

Last 5:
Arsenal: DWWWD
Wolves: WLLLW

Goals For:
Arsenal: 2.3 (home)
Wolves: 0.8 (away)

Goals Against:
Arsenal: 1.0 (home)
Wolves: 2.0 (away)

Goal Difference:
Arsenal: 27
Wolves: -17

Match Officials:
Referee: Chris Foy
Assistant referees: Darren Cann & Gary Beswick
Fourth official: Mick Russell

Broadcast Information:
US: ESPN2: 10:00 AM EST

UK: ?????? 1500 GMT

GAMEDAY CHAT: It’s Open!!!!!!

YAMA Prediction:
Arsenal: 3
Wolves: 0


And In Other News:

Well, this certainly has been a week to forget but it is ending on a very good note as stalwarts Johann Djourou and Alex Song have returned to the squad – hopefully they will stay healthy and be able to be our backbone against Barca on Wednesday. But the best part is that it looks like soon (barring any major injuries) we are going to go into March at complete full strength.

In today’s pre-match presser Wenger announced that Thomas Vermaelen (remember him) has made major improvements in his rehad and will now begin to start featuring for the Arsenal reserves. What this means is (also barring any major set backs) that the Verminator is about at the most 3 weeks away. If I am looking at my calendar right he could actually be back for the 2nd leg of the Champion’s league tie at the Nou Camp. That may be a little much but that’s about the right time.

As much as Koscielny has improved I’ve always maintained that our strongest back 4 would be one that featured Djourou and Vermaelen in the centre. Now, we shouldn’t expect much upon his return. His lasy meaningful play was in September and I worry that we could see some adjustment to refind his match fitness. Either way, it will be good to see Thomas back in his red and white kit.

Also on the news front is word out of Nou Camp that Carles Puyol is going to miss the match. As much as Messi and the lads up front make Barca go, Puyol at the back is the line of defence in front of Valdes. Sure, just Puyol being out doesn’t blunt the Barcelona attack, but it is something to remain a little hopeful on in terms of areas of exploit.

And finally, I am never one to miss an opportunity to laugh at Spurs and Friday was another one. First came news that Fat’Arry Redknapp was actually going to stand trial for tax evasion. Finally the man is going to pay for his role in the demise of the once proud Portsmouth football club. Just in time for him NOT to be named manager of England.

Then Spurs owner Daniel Levy wants to move his club from Tottenham to Stratford into the new Olympic stadium, except there was one problem, today the Olympic Legacy Committee gave the site to West Ham. What proceeded was a littany of voices from Lord Sugar to Jermaine Jenas and even Fat ‘Arry Redknapp saying how could they play a football match in a a stadium wtih track around it. Forget for a moment that they might actually be right to actually see them cry about it was like the kid who says “well I didn’t want it any way” when he doesn’t get the thing he wanted.

My twitter feed to the Spurs faithful after the news of their Olympic defeat – “Porn Kings beat Cocks”

Seriously, any day you can laugh at Spurs is a good day.

See on the flip side of the match.


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