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Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Arsenal: match preview

What a frustrating match this was.
What a frustrating match this was.

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Arsenal
The Oleg Luzhny Challenge Oleg
English Premier League Match 33
Molineux Stadium, Waterloo Road, Wolverhampton, WV1 4QR

Arsenal travel to the West Midlands near the Black Country (LOVE that name for a region--it's so fairytale-ish) to face Eric Idle's boyhood team, Wolves, tomorrow. Wolves caretaker manager Terry Connor is loving his time in charge despite Wolves having a real real real rough time of it lately, and while I love the fact that he's seeing positives amidst all the smoke, Arsenal could do with the three points. Follow us after the jump for more.

Arsenal will go into the match with a few decisions to make. Kieran Gibbs, who has what Arsene Wenger has termed a "fatigued groin", and Laurent Koscielny, who is suspended due to accumulating ten yellow cards before some arbitrary cutoff point, are not available. Gibbs' injury is not serious, but it will keep him out tomorrow, so Andre Santos' neck and shoulders will be appearing at left back. Other than that, one can probably expect Wenger to roll out the usual suspects. There may be some debate as to whether Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should start on the left instead of Yossi Benayoun, provided Gervinho does not recover from his injury before this weekend. Both players offer something a little different; as we saw on Sunday, Benayoun is excellent at cutting inside and combining with Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta, while Chamberlain offers more direct wing play (although he's not too shabby at that whole passing and playing in the middle thing, either).

Wolves will be without the services of Jamie O'Hara and Jody Craddock, both out with long-term injuries, so their back four will probably be as it was at Stoke: Zubar-Stearman-Bassong-Ward. Roger Johnson, though, may return, being club captain and all, and being somewhat of an Arsenal-annoyer. Steven Fletcher will also probably start, given his history against the Gunners.

Wolves play a pretty straightforward 4-4-2, and their wings like to push up quite a lot, which should open up space for both Santos and Bacary Sagna to bomb forward if those wings can't pin them back well. However, one would have thought that would've been the case at QPR, and that turned out quite differently, so hopefully Arsenal can play away like they do at the Emirates.

Although they drew Wolves at the Emirates in December, so...

Expected formation for Arsenal (4-3-3): Szczesny; Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Santos; Song, Arteta, Rosicky; Benayoun, van Persie, Walcott.

Prediction: Terry Connor says "oh, what the hell" and plays ten actual wolves plus Karl Henry, but the wolves, being pack animals, look like a team of U6 players, all chasing Santos around the pitch (hey, which guy on the team looks most easily separated from the herd? Santos) and ignoring the ball. Arsenal win 143-0, but at what cost! dear reader, as Santos contracts lycanthropy and spends the rest of his life living in the Black Country.