Preview: Arsenal need to keep season alive with win over Wolves

By on April 19, 2024

Arsenal head to Molineux Stadium on Saturday night needing a win over Wolves to get our season back on track.

For the third year in a row, Arsenal’s campaign is in danger of collapsing in April. We blew our top four hopes in April 2021/22 before a horrendous run of results last April saw our title hopes go up in flames. Mikel Arteta now faces the very real possibility of lightening striking three times in a row.

We started the month well after beating Luton and then put ourselves in an excellent position to win the title with a hugely impressive 3-0 win away to Brighton. However, the wheels appear to have come in over the past 10 days. The 2-2 draw at home to Bayern Munich in the first leg of our Champions League quarter-final took a lot out of the players.

It was evident as Arsenal slumped to a shock 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa last weekend. We played well enough to be at least 2-0 up at half-time but a disastrous second half performance saw Villa run out 2-0 winners at the Emirates. The Gunners had blown the chance to go clear at the top of the table after Liverpool had lost to Crystal Palace, but we bottled it.

Mikel Arteta called for a response in Germany on Tuesday night as we looked to book our place in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Arsenal were solid enough in the first half and more than matched Bayern, however, once again we produced a poor second half display and the Bundesliga giants went through thanks to a Joshua Kimmich header.


The defeat was bad enough, but it was the manner of the loss that really hurt. Arsenal were poor in attack and barely laid a glove on Bayern in the second half. The fact we could only muster 1 shot in the last 40 minutes tells the story. We limped out of the Champions League without a fight. Some say it was down to tired legs and questioned Arteta for not rotating enough to keep players fresh. Others think it was down to a lack of experience and not dealing with the pressure of elite European football. Many will agree that Arsenal still lack real depth in the squad when it matters the most.

I think all of the above are valid arguments and there is some truth to them all. One things for sure, Arteta needs to learn from the last 10 days and motivate the team to put things right on Saturday evening. Defeat to Wolves would leave Arsenal needing a miracle to win the title this season. With Man City playing in the FA Cup, we have an opportunity to go top and at least put some pressure on them. The last thing we want to do is hand the title to City like we did last year by not winning our games, so those with Arsenal tickets will be demanding a response from the players tomorrow.

We face a Wolves side who have just one win in their last seven games in all competitions. They lost 2-1 to West Ham last time out at home and drew away to Burnley and Forest either side of that game, so Gary O’Neil’s men aren’t in the best of form right now. They still sit comfortably in mid-table on 43 points, so they don’t have a lot left to play for either, so this could be a good time to play them.

Team news

Arsenal have virtually a fully-fit squad to choose from. Jurrien Timber is the only significant absentee as he continues to work on his fitness following a serious ACL injury. The Dutchman has been in training in recent weeks but Arteta says he needs a run out with the U23s before he’ll be in contention for first team action.

Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Magalhaes all appear to be playing with knocks recently but they’re all likely to feature this weekend in what is a must-win game for Arsenal.

As for Wolves, they’ll be without Matheus Cunha and Craig Dawson. Nelson Semedo is also set to miss out along with Pedro Neto – who won’t play again this season due to a thigh injury. Rayan Ait-Nouri could return but a place on the bench is the best he can hope for.

Likely line-up

Arteta may be tempted to rotate the team as we looked tired against Bayern in midweek. Thomas Partey has been used sparingly since returning from injury so it could be time for him to get a start in midfield with Jorginho rested.

Leandro Trossard could come in for Gabriel Martinelli on the left wing. The Brazilian had a poor game in Munich and doesn’t look confident right now. Gabriel Jesus is another player pushing for a recall after being named among the substitutes in midweek. If Arteta does recall the Brazilian, he could play on the wing or replace Kai Havertz up front.

Oleksandr Zinchenko and Jacub Kiwior are both options if Arteta wants to freshen things up at left-back. Takehiro Tomiyasu started his first game of 2024 on Tuesday so he might not be ready to play 90 minutes again.

Emile Smith Rowe, Fabio Vieira and Reiss Nelson are all fit and available for selection. However, they are likely to remain on the bench with the likes of Declan Rice, Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka all keeping their places.

Likely Arsenal XI: Raya, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Partey, Rice, Odegaard, Saka, Jesus, Trossard


It’s difficult to know how Arsenal will react to Tuesday’s Champions League heartbreak. It’s never easy to play a league game just days after a European tie, but it will be even more difficult for Arteta to pick the players after missing out on a place in the semi-finals in such a close game.

Wolves will have fresh legs after not playing in midweek and that will surely have a baring on the game, too. However, Arsenal know anything less than a win, and the title will be all-but gone, so you’d hope the players will be highly motivated to get back to winning ways.

This is a huge opportunity, not only to show the squad have the character to bounce back from a few disappointing results, but to also put the pressure on Man City by going top of the table with a win at Molineux.

I’m expecting a tense, tough game, but back the players to grind out a vital victory. Wolves 1-2 Arsenal