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Arsenal vs. Wolverhampton: match preview

Kickoff: 10 AM EST, Emirates Stadium
TV Coverage: ESPN 2,

Arsenal kick off against Wolves tomorrow in their 26th Premier League match of the season.  The Gunners currently sit in second place, four points back from league leaders Manchester United, who finally succumbed in the league last weekend to, of all teams, Wolves.  The Midlands club, for their part, sit in 19th place with 24 points from 25 matches, and a -17 goal difference.

Wolves, despite their relegation-fodder status, have made some noise in the league this year.  Chelsea, Man United, Man City and Liverpool rank among their victims.  When Arsenal traveled to Wolverhampton earlier this year, it took a magnificent Fabianski save to keep them from equalizing before Marouane Chamakh was able to put home a second for the Gunners.

Wolverhampton come into the match relatively injury-free, although Stephen Hunt is out with a calf muscle strain.  His shaggy hair will be nowhere near any of Arsenal's ankles tomorrow, but consequently, none of the Gunners will have the satisfaction of defeating him either.

For their part, Arsenal will be without the services of Tomas Rosicky, Denilson, Thomas Vermaelen, Abou Diaby, Fabianski, or Samir NasriAlex Song, Johan Djourou, Cesc Fabregas, and Robin van Persie should all be recovered from their various injuries and illnesses and available should Arsène Wenger call upon them.  It seems unlikely that Wenger would risk Djourou tomorrow, though, given that Wolves don't score loads of goals, and that Arsenal's next match is against Barcelona.

The biggest obstacle for Arsenal tomorrow may in fact be their own minds.  There is no way to judge the impact of the draw with Newcastle last weekend, a draw that, at 4-0, had a 1 in 200 chance of occurring.  Most of the squad went away on international duty this week, and hopefully that allowed them to clear their minds and focus on something else.  Wolves, in theory, present an easy target, but they also can be incredibly tenacious as Arsenal know all too well.

Possible lineup:


Sagna         Squillaci        Koscielny       Clichy

Song         Wilshere


Walcott      van Persie        Arshavin