Fortunately for Arsenal, their bad performances recently have come in fairly inconsequential games. The defeat to PSV didn’t stop them from topping their Europa League group and the 3-1 loss to Brighton sees them dropped from the League Cup. Now you never want to lose, but Mikel Arteta, and I’d estimate most fans, would rather those losses come in situations like those two rather than Premier League fixtures. It’s now on the final match before the World Cup break and heading into Saturday’s late kick-off against Wolves Arsenal will know what they need in order to stay ahead of Manchester City.
Wolves enter the weekend 19th in the Premier League, tied on ten points with Nottingham Forest. Their -14 goal difference is the only thing keeping them off the bottom, ahead of Forest’s -20. They’ve lost three of their last four in the league, plus a 1-1 draw against Brentford. However, a late goal by Boubacar Traoré in their midweek Carabao Cup fixture with Leeds gave them just their second win since early September. The match against Arsenal will be the final before new manager Julen Lopetegui takes over.
For the Q&A this round we talked with Wolverhampton Wanderers’ fansite and podcast The Wolfpack.
TSF: While it’s been a difficult start to the year, how do you rate the arrival of Matheus Nunes and Hwang Hee-chan, and with the upcoming break could that give them a chance to reset and feel more settled in the Premier League?
The Wolfpack: Mathues Nunes has struggled at times mainly due to being played in the number 10 role, instead of the number 8/6. Against Southampton and Chelsea away he showed really great use of progression when driving so let’s see. But he needs to play in the correct position, no doubts he’ll become superb. With Hwang Hee-Chan he isn’t liked much by the fans but.. has struggled really badly at times. But he doesn’t play.
TSF: Wolves already have three red cards this season, a trend that Arsenal seemed to find themselves during the first year of Mikel Arteta’s tenure. Three unique moments or a sign of a discipline issue the new manager will need to address during the pause in matches?
The Wolfpack: I think you could argue that, but I’m not too concerned about the red cards. Although there’s 0 reason for me to be pleased and the red cards have all been daft and have cost us.
TSF: 19th in the table, Wolves' main issue this year has been finding goals. With just eight goals from 14 EPL matches, is it down to creating quality chances or finishing them? And which players can reverse their fortunes in the second half of the season?
The Wolfpack: Down to creating and a bit of luck in front of goal. For example, Costa has had 16 shots and not scored. It’s down to both, we barely create, and then when we do we haven’t been clinical.
TSF: Wolves dropped Bruno Lage at the start of October and the new manager Julen Lopetegui we officially take over on November 14th. What are you expecting Lopetegui to bring to the club and will he have funds to make moves in the January transfer window?
The Wolfpack: I expect him to bring stability, and bring confidence to the players needing it. Hopefully we can start scoring and in general improve our form. I’m very excited.
TSF: With the new manager not starting until after this match, how do you expect Wolves to set up this weekend and who would be in your starting XI?
The Wolfpack: Predicted line up: Sa | Jonny - Collins - Kilman - Bueno | Traore - Neves - Nunes | Adama - Guedes - Podence.
Prediction is 3-0 to Arsenal.
Thanks to The Wolfpack for chatting before this final Premier League weekend heading into the World Cup break.