It’s been an enjoyable ride thus far for the Arsenal. After back-to-back 8th place finishes, the club is back in the fight for 4th and controls their own destiny as we close in on March. Most supporters would have loved to be in that position the last few years and after the start of this season. Add in a younger squad and a more supportive Emirates, and things are being to feel like they are turning for Arsenal. Thursday brings Mikel Arteta’s next big test in the return leg against Wolves after that red-card debacle two weeks ago.
Wolves’ loss to Arsenal on the 10th was not in line with their current Premier League trend. Since that match, they’ve beaten Tottenham 2-0 and Leicester City 2-1. Over their last eight league matches, they’ve won six, lost once (Arsenal), and had a nil-nil draw against Chelsea. Sitting 7th in the table, two points behind the Gunners, this is a crucial match for both sides to keep pace on 4th place. How will Mikel Arteta set up for the return leg at the Emirates and coming off a pair of league wins?
- Eddie Nketiah
- Gabriel Martinelli
- Albert Sambi Lokonga
- Mohamed Elneny
- Nuno Tavares
- Rob Holding
- Bernd Leno
- Left Out: Arthur Okonkwo.
- Out: No one.
- Back from injury, Tomiyasu should be set for his first action in February. His return gets Arsenal’s ideal backline together. While Cedric had a solid day against Brentford and Wolves’ attack lacks a consistent threat, Takehiro provides more stable protection.
- With this match and the following one against Watford spaced out nicely, Arteta can afford to keep playing his primary 11(or 12) players. March 13th-19th will see a trio of Premier League matches, which may force some strategic rotations, but for now, there’s no reason to divert from the plan.
- Lacazette has yet to score in 2022. Two goals and three assists in December helped lift Arsenal in the race for 4th, but since then he’s been left wanting. Alexandre has missed a few big chances while also losing out on numerous penalty shouts. His inclusion in the starting XI is as much about his overall role within the tactics as is it about Arsenal’s lack of options up top.
- Martinelli is available once again after his one-match suspension, but you can’t replace Emile Smith Rowe after that goal, right? It’s a good problem to have and one that Arsenal hasn’t been troubled with for quite a while. Two players in the same position, equally capable of starting. There is something to be said for giving Martinelli the chance against Wolves after being harshly sent off. This attack won the Brentford match, and as such, I’d start with them again. Brining on Martinelli and Pepe in the second half if something isn’t working.
How to watch
Thursday (2/24) at 2:45 pm ET / 11:45 am PT on Peacock Premium.
Arsenal - 2
Wolves - 1