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Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Wednesday's Premier League meeting between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Arsenal.

Unai Emery will be after a quick response from his Arsenal players when they make the trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League on Wednesday evening.

The Gunners suffered a shock 3-2 home loss at the hands of Crystal Palace on Sunday and cannot afford to drop more points as the race for a top-four finish heats up.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Nuno Espirito Santo  during the Premier League game between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City on January 19, 2019© Reuters

This midweek tussle with Arsenal may have come at the perfect time for Nuno Espirito Santo. Wolves' season is at risk of spiralling out, having won just one of their last five matches.

That solitary win, at home to Manchester United at the start of the month, seems like an age ago now as Wolves have since been dumped out of the FA Cup by Watford and have lost ground in their battle to finish seventh in the Premier League.

The cruel nature of their 3-2 extra-time defeat to Watford will no doubt have taken it out of Nuno's players. Wolves were seconds away from a place in the FA Cup final, only to fall apart at Wembley to end their hopes of silverware.

Regardless of what happens over the remaining few weeks of the season, this can still be considered a hugely successful first campaign back in the big time for the West Midlands outfit, who have done more than anyone to bloody the noses of the division's established elite over the last eight months.

Nuno's men have already beaten Chelsea, Man United and Tottenham Hotspur this season, in fact, and they are now aiming to become just the third promoted side to beat at least four sides to have finished that campaign in the top six, joining Sunderland (1996-96) and Blackburn Rovers (1992-93) in doing so.

Following that heartbreaking semi-final loss, all focus is now on finishing seventh in the Premier League, which should be enough to secure a backdoor entry into Europa League qualifying.

However, away defeats to Burnley and Southampton, as well as Saturday's goalless draw at home to a badly out-of-form Brighton & Hove Albion, have seen them drift down to 10th place.

Wolves still have this game in hand to play on seventh-placed Everton, who are just one point better off, though Watford also have an extra game to play and seventh is considered theirs to lose at this point.

Despite their shaky form, however, Wolves have continually picked up big results against the top six, and they are also unbeaten in their last six home Premier League matches overall.

Not since between October 2003 and January 2004 have they enjoyed a longer unbeaten run which, as it turns out, was ended by Arsenal. If they can extend that run in midweek, last season's Championship title winners will still have plenty to play for over the remaining few weeks of the campaign.

Recent form in Premier League: WDLWLD
Recent form (all competitions): WLWLLD


Alexander Lacazette celebrates his goal against Newcastle United with Arsenal teammate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on April 4, 2019© Reuters

Emery's decision to heavily rotate his side for Sunday's home match with lowly Palace badly backfired as the Gunners' winning home run, spanning 10 matches, came to an end.

The Spaniard can be forgiven for retaining just four players from his side's most recent outing, though, coming less than 72 hours on from their away tie with Napoli in the Europa League.

In the end it was the decision to use Shkodran Mustafi in his backline that proved costly for Emery, with the experienced German defender producing another shocking display in a match that saw Arsenal concede three preventable goals.

Arsenal had managed to look like a team capable of defending in recent weeks, keeping out the opposition in six of their last seven matches heading into the calamitous performance against Palace, which halted their momentum.

One of those clean sheets came in Naples last Thursday as a 1-0 win on the night secured a comfortable 3-0 aggregate victory, setting up a Europa League semi-final with Valencia later this month.

Emery may well have to prioritise one competition over the other in the final month of the season, with the two legs against Valencia sandwiched between league games with Leicester City, Brighton and Burnley.

For now, though, all focus is on coming away from Molineux with all three points to keep hold of a place in the top four. If they are to achieve that, the Gunners must do something they have not managed since October - win back-to-back away matches.

Arsenal were 1-0 winners at Watford last Monday, winning on the road for just the second time in 10 attempts. Not since February 2016, meanwhile, have they managed consecutive away clean sheets in the top flight.

Three of the North London outfit's four remaining league games happen to be away from the Emirates Stadium, so they need to use their recent win at Vicarage Road as a platform to push on.

In a season that could still go one of two ways, Emery will not want to see his side slip back into the old habits that were on show against Palace.

Recent form in Premier League: WDLWLD
Recent form (all competitions): WLWLLD

Team News

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka pictured in November 2018© Reuters

Sokratis Papastathopoulos is back from a two-match domestic ban, allowing Emery to leave Mustafi out of his side following his terrible display on Sunday.

Emery is hopeful of having Granit Xhaka back after the midfielder sat out the Palace match as a precaution. With Aaron Ramsey a confirmed absentee, Matteo Guendouzi is in line for another start should the Swiss miss out.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Alex Iwobi were brought on at half time at the weekend and are pushing for starts here, while Nacho Monreal and Lucas Torreira are also in line for recalls if Emery reverts back to his strongest side.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been directly involved in 10 goals in his eight Premier League appearances against promoted sides, scoring seven and assisting three. Five of those seven goals and two of the three assists have come away from home, possibly seeing him get the nod over Alexandre Lacazette up top.

Wolves once again have a clean bill of health, meanwhile, giving Nuno a chance to rotate his squad should he wish.

That does not seem likely, though, with the Portuguese not known for making mass changes between matches.

Morgan Gibbs-White started in midfield against Brighton at the weekend, but Leander Dendoncker may return on Wednesday, while Romain Saiss is also in contention to feature.

Up top, Raul Jimenez has been directly involved in seven goals in his 10 Premier League games against the top six Premier League sides this season, scoring four and assisting three.

Wolverhampton Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny; Jimenez, Jota

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal; Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Torreira, Kolasinac; Mkhitaryan, Iwobi; Aubameyang

Head To Head

Wolves have never beaten Arsenal in the Premier League in nine previous attempts, their longest-such run without a win against a single opponent in the competition.

The Gunners have not lost against Wolves in any competition since a top-flight clash in September 1979, winning 16 of the 20 meetings since then.

Arsenal have also won all four of their Premier League matches at Molineux. Only at the KCOM Stadium (five) do they have a better 100% win rate at a particular ground.

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We say: Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-1 Arsenal

Sunday's loss to Palace was an anomaly for Arsenal, who have been defensively sound in recent weeks and have carved out some important wins. Last week's trip to Watford also proved that they can pick up victories away from home, which will come in handy on Wednesday against a Wolves side with a great record against the top six but a poor home return against Arsenal.

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Who will win Wednesday's Premier League meeting between Wolves and Arsenal?

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1Manchester CityMan City35292489226789
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs352311165353070
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd35197963501364
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves35149124443151
10Leicester CityLeicester35146154847148
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham35127164454-1043
12Crystal Palace35126174348-542
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle35118163544-941
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3597193254-2234
18Cardiff CityCardiff3594223065-3531
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3535272069-4914

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