Arsenal v Wolves Preview/ Lineup: AES behind Laca, the DM Beasts and Return of Big Gab

After an energy sapping battle against the Mancs on Saturday, we now face the Wolves who have lost their bite a bit in recent months. They are desperate to regain momentum and will hope to do so against us at Molineux tomorrow, no doubt. But the Gunners are on a mission and will fight the Wolves tooth and nail to take back home three very valuable points.

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Nuno’s Wolves are a good team and their loss of form is unlikely to continue for the rest of the season. Arteta knows that some of his players may be in the infamous red zone after a large number of continuous games which culminated into that massive, existential battle against the odious Mancs. So how to play against them tomorrow? Wolves play a clean, well-drilled style of football with good passing and excellent positioning and we will need to not commit too many players forward as to avoid their very sharp counter-attacks. Still, we have to play our game through our now well established 4-2-3-1 formation and hope for both clinical finishing and the bounce of the ball going our way.

My preferred lineup:

The return of an eager Auba would be very welcome. The same goes for Saka who was missed last Saturday. It looks like Laca, the warhorse, is fine again, but Tierney is still not available unfortunately. Mari looks ready again so he may well start tomorrow. Rob Holding has played a lot recently and we have to ask ourselves whether he should get a rest. I am going for the partnership of Gabriel and Holding for this one with Soares and Bellerin our automatic FBs right now. Deep-midfield should be the DM Beasts, Xhaka and Partey, again, but Elneny could start for either of them.

Upfront is also a bit of a gamble. I am expecting Laca to start, and he would have my preference, but would also not be surprised if Eddie gets a start. The boy really needs another opportunity to shine. The question here is who is most suited to replace Laca, as in being able to play a similar role, and I reckon that would actually be Martinelli. We can only hope Silky Saka is fit to play again as he makes such a difference right now. So for me the three behind the CF should be AES: Auba, ESR and Saka; and I am hoping to see Odegaard get about 20-30 minutes to show us what he is capable of too.

Should be a good game to watch and remember the kick off is early at 1800 hours/ 6pm.

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By TotalArsenal.

51 thoughts on “Arsenal v Wolves Preview/ Lineup: AES behind Laca, the DM Beasts and Return of Big Gab

  • Great photo on the header. Add in Sol and we had seven world class players in the same team. When will we see their likes again…

  • This is a must win other wise we shall not catch up with the rest of the teams who are fighting for top four. Its a must must win and my prediction is 2-1 in favor of Arsenal.

  • Hello, people.

    One thing about the team selection…

    I would be very, very, very, very careful with Gabriel (CB) if I were Arteta. Gabriel was going through the whole Covid-thing and that one does bad things to your lungs. And, guess what? To operate on the highest level in the toughest league in the world you need your lungs at 100%. Not exactly a Nobel Prize material, I know.

    Gabriel has looked rusty since his return and I’d rather use him v Benfica than against any of the English teams (even if Wolves are more of a Portuguese team). We are a bit short with numbers given that fixtures are piling up, Mustafi is gone, Saliba has been out on loan since his birth and Chambers recovers slower than a 130-year-old World War One veteran but we should still have enough space to use our CBs properly.

  • Thanks for the preview Total, we’ve had four days to recover and Wolves are in the same fatigue boat as Arsenal, so I can’t see too many changes unless someone from Saturday picked up a knock..
    Releasing Willock and Niles on loan yesterday should perhaps give us a clue as to where we are fitness wise, Arteta obviously felt comfortable enough to let them go elsewhere to play and also we don’t have the FACup to worry about and that’ll give us a chance to catch our breath.

    Will Nuno have one eye on that FACup 5th round tie with Southampton?
    Win that and he’s into the Quarter Finals, two games away from Wembley, tantalisingly close to a first trophy maybe?

    Wolves are also minus their best strikers, the loss of Jiminez has been huge for them, how many wins have they had since they beat us at, I almost said Highbury, the Emirates – wishful thinking… 🙂

    I understand the worries over Rob and his fitness Total, but Holding is a player who gets into a groove and I think is better left in the team, maybe giving him a rest vs Benfica is an idea, Luiz will want to play in that game.

    Using your subs sensibly is the way to go I reckon…

  • Good points, Kevoh

    Wolves will indeed be thinking about the FA cup game; I hadn’t thought about that.

    Rob in a groove is a good point, I am just worried about his hamstrings… But we also have Chambers in reserve, so yes let’s play Robboh

  • Thanks TA–
    Wanted to take a quick dive back into that November match vs Wolves. After the collision between Jimenez and Luiz– Raul came off– while Luiz remained on till the break. Think we can all agree David wasn’t ‘all there’. A consequence factoring in both Neto and Podence netting before half– in areas Luiz was policing. Unfortunately, it was Bellerin and Willian on that flank in front of Luiz with Ceballos in midfield that day. Luiz got very little help in both cases.

    Do feel Arsenal’s defense has found itself, being stout in this interim. Though with Adama Traore in the mix– and Nuno mixing up his attacking corp and formation for the last month? Little can be predicted. Hoping though that Holding gets the support he needs– as it’s the quicker, pacey wingers like Neto who give him the most grief.

  • Cheers JW, good points too. We need Partey to be fit and focused as to support Holdingho and Co. Agreed also that Luiz should probably not have played after the collision 💥

  • I reckon that Wolves have failed to build on their last season. I wasn’t impressed with their summer transfer window and NES(cafe) has never been my cup of tea among the managers.

    Traore is a scary human being but last season we put him out of the game thanks to impressive Maitland Niles’ cameo and ever-present Traore’s flaws when he has to take a shot. As the commentator stated after his big miss, if he had a final product, he’d have been at Barcelona or Real.

    I don’t like to play against Portuguese clubs and their national team (Total knows why) but I reckon Wolves can be beaten if we put the same battling colours on our faces we did against Man United. The momentum is a tricky thing as it can easily evaporate but right now, it’s on our side.

    With Auba back in the team and, hopefully, with his mind firmly set on the well-being of the team, I reckon we should get all three points tonight. February is a key month for our season – a lot of games to be played with high stakes in each one of those. I’d be more calm with Tierney in the side but we can only play those players that are available to us.

  • Admir, yes momentum is a precious, tricky thing and a win tonight would be brilliant in this pivotal month.

    I think we need Mari, Xhaka and Soares to work together to stop the tremendous Traore.

    Really hoping Saka will be available tonight.

  • Seems as a one-off game between Benfica and Arsenal is being mooted to solve the issue with isolation etc, which to me makes a lot of sense and it takes away goals out of the equation.

    How about playing the game in the Athletic Bilbao stadium, pretty much half way.
    That’s if the Spanish FA and Government agree.

  • Or Wales? It’s neutral, yea? The Switzerland of the UK. Cardiff is like Geneva– right? 🤔
    Doesn’t Torchwood™ maintain a secret stadium there? 👽

  • Arsenal XI: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Luiz, Cedric, Partey, Xhaka, Pepe, Smith Rowe, Saka, Lacazette.

    Subs: Runarsson, Gabriel, Chambers, Elneny, Ceballos, Odegaard, Willian, Martinelli, Aubameyang.

  • No, Mari or Tierney, not even on the bench. The signing of Soares starts looking like a masterstroke..

    Auba on bench and Pepe gets another start. Allez Nicola, tente ta chance!

  • Indeed this is a strong and promising start-up.
    What we are missing is the left-footed bunch. Neither our left-footed LCBs (Gabriel, Mari) are in the starting line-up, Mari is still not back to full fitness, Gabriel is on the bench, but we can only guess whether it is about his lack of breath (or lung capacity as Admir suggested), or Holding and Luiz became undroppable in recent weeks, so Mikel doesn’t want to change the back formation.
    Tierney, the guy who should be the first player on the team sheet is still injured, not even part of trainings. Soares substituted him with quite conviction, so there is nothing to worry here (or almost nothing, as Adama Traore could prove to be a bigger challenge than Walcott or Pogba on the right wing). And we don’t have hardcore LW on the left wing, but I still have to correct myself as Nicholas Pepe is left-footed, altough a right winger by trade. Martinelli is on the bench, and so are Aubameyang, Odegaard and Ceballos, so we have really strong substitution opportunities as well.
    COYG!

  • Tierney was overplayed without rest, and I was complaining two FA cups matches back… was an opportunity to be rested then… was that 120 minutes match? AMN was available to start that day… .. we were improving in the league at that point too…..Kierans fitness troubles began right after…..

    This is a decent lineup. I’m slightly worried about Gabriel, but maybe he wants to reward Luiz for his last performance.

  • happy to see Chambers getting closer. Funny I noticed a couple nice left footed passes from Luiz on Saturday.

  • Loving that Cedric is loving his battle with Adama.
    Soares has had the best of it so far.

  • It’s going to be a horror of a second half with Luiz sent off for faulting Willian Jose as the last defender (Neves scored from the subsequent penalty). He could have gotten away with a yellow card as David had no faulting intent, but the initial decision was to send him off, and the VAR was not decisive enough to turn the decision.

    Gabriel or Chambers will come on replacing most likely Smith-Rowe. I expect Gabriel, as Luiz was playing as LCB. Arsenal will have to defend with discipline and rely on counterattacks.

  • What a stupid bloody rule that is. If Luiz kicks him it’s only a booking. A Farce as far as I am concerned. Why they have that stupid idiot ex ref on B T I don’t know. Leno deserved to go fair enough, but the Luiz decision us ridiculous. I will always like Martin Keown, but he hasnt covered himself in glory tonight.

    That idiot ex ref even said Luiz is famous for it. If I remember correctly last time it happened he kicked them. I give up

  • Well that was one of the most bizarre games I have ever seen. First half was soo good until the sending off which changed everything. The boys did us proud in the second half but after conceding early from a one in twenty shot on goal we just knew it just wasn’t our day.

    Still I am proud of the boys.

  • Peter Walton, the referee expert on BT Sport said something about intent, I’m sure he said it doesn’t have any influence anymore, maybe it’s just for these incidents, because intent used to be everything.
    Therefore if a player takes a swing at another player intending to punch him on the nose and misses he gets away with it because there was no contact… What a crazy world we’re living in now!

    And that was a totally mental game, we should have won it easily 4-0, but now we lose Leno and Luiz for 3 matches, with that kind of luck Wolves should get a top four place. I actually thought that Wolves were rubbish, that is up until Luiz got sent off.

  • Walton is just made to look an idiot Kev. As Rio as said nobody understands the rules anymore
    Sure it was pen. But no way a sending off. Until another rule change that nobody knew about.

    They are ruining the game.

    And I agree Wolves were rubbish

  • Retsub, I agree with everything you said, apart from liking Keown.

    Our defense indeed became more stable and reliable, and this game is kind of proof to that. Wolves could only score from a penalty and a once-in-a-career remarkable long shot, despite their quite critical numerical advantage.
    I don’t blame Luiz (at least not as the major news outlets), but he will have difficulties coming back to the team when/if Holding and Gabriel will re-establish their partnership.
    Unless Ryan miraculously recovers in a few say, Rúnarsson will have the opportunity to play in the PL for a few games.

  • Day-um!
    Mentioned a ‘crazy quilt at Wolves’ yesterday.
    No way I saw this one coming. The fallout will be lasting with Leno’s RC.

  • Amazing I tune in to BBC and United beat 9 man Southampton 9 -0. And the Saints had two players sent off. One of them in similar circumstances to. David Luiz. Peter Walton said the rule was changed to protect goalkeepers from double jeopardy. They have carried this rule over to forwards.

    Absolute joke

  • Retsub, I remember Peter Walton when he was in the middle, he was a dickhead then and he’s a dickhead now…

    Finishing fellas, it’s down to finishing, we have to be more cool and calculating in these situations, poor finishing cost us dear earlier in the season and it’s still haunting us. I don’t know the answer other practice, practice, practice.

  • Dan Critchlow
    @afcDW
    ·4h
    This was the most frustrating part. So eye-opening on the way games are officiated. Players get decisions because they have a historical precedent for them.

    Tim Stillman
    @Stillberto
    · 4h
    Peter Walton pretty explicitly uses this as a reason to send him off in his analysis of the incident on BT. ‘David Luiz has done this before.’ Irrelevant, you judge each incident on its merits.

  • Having watched part of the game I got to say officiating is one thing but we have to be less mentally fragile in my opinion we shouldn’t have let that situation happen just before the half like that and Luiz has had how many red cards now it was at the very least clumsy of him even if some feel it was not a red. I got to say Mikel will keep getting burned on his trust of Luiz, sure he has good games but I find I trust Rob more to be consistent over a 10 game stretch than Luiz, I really thought Gabriel would be eased back in by now. Its early days for Arteta but there is something there with all these red cards it feels like a record and I am not just going to cry about refs as we have to do better with what we can control wonder what the gap is to the next most red carded team its ridiculous now.

    I hear Leno’s was without a doubt but boy how I long for the mentality of the Invincibles who I recall getting a couple of results after going down a man its now pretty automatic that a red card becomes 3 points lost. Anyway decent first half and glad to see Pepe building a little momentum on his favored wing now but we paid for not capitalizing with more goals after being dominant. Cedric keeps proving the doubters wrong put in a good shift, at least for the portion I watched. Gutted at such a missed opportunity with some tough games coming up. I also didn’t realize Ryan was injured fingers crossed he is back in a hurry or we are in big trouble.

  • Gutted after watching the match. Couldn’t go to bed after the match which ended 1:30 AM local time and couldn’t sleep all night. It was heart wrenching to say the least. I was watching the match and the way it unraveled i had this sickening feeling that it was just one of those nights. The sequence of events in a dominant first half display was unrewarding with Saka hitting the woodwork, Saka’s goal disallowed due to offside and penalty claims disregarded (similar to Luiz’s infact), i had a distinct feeling that this would be one of those nights where the elements conspired for an Arsenal defeat. Then when Pepe scored a wondergoal with his wrong foot, i was elated. Then in a moment of brain freeze remember it was a ball kicked out with just 15 seconds remaining for Half time, we allow acres of spaces for Traore to run. Cannot understand our game management, 15 sec to go into break with a 1-0 lead unbelievable for a bunch of professional footballers, whose only job in life is to play a game and think about it all the time. Its not that they have a day job like all of us and then play football during weekends. Unbelievable unprofessionalism from this bunch of footballers. Then Leno takes the cake or is it the law of averages. i don’t know but it was gut wrenching for me and i was dazed for entire second half.

  • Just a few notes, it seems that Arsenal do much better when I’m quiet.

    1.Boys gave a great performance and were undone by clumsy Luiz & Leno and idiotic referee’s call. I can understand the penalty part but not the red card one.

    2.Pepe… Maybe there is a decent signing after all. He has found consistency and I’d like to see more of it from him.

    3.Arsenal have to make a serious call regarding Luiz next summer. Three red cards, three penalties conceded in those incidents and in two occasions he completely turned the game into our opponents’ favour. I understand that his passing qualities and strong character (regardless of what I think of him) make him important player in Arteta’s eyes but the gaffer will have to find a more reliable option come June.

  • Admir, i have an idea. If Arteta wants Luiz for all the above reasons that he has given, please keep him as an assistant coach not sure for what. But never get him on pitch please.

  • With some referees, maybe most of them, it’s easier to give red cards to certain clubs and certain players than it is to others.

    I mean who was the referee who was in charge when Pickford took out VVD and pretty much ended his season and then compare it with Leno? Which offence was worse?
    The major difference to me is that one was the England goalkeeper and the other was not, to me what Leno did was stupid but surely it didn’t deserve more than a yellow card.

    Now let’s compare how Craig Pawson and the same linesman dealt with David Luiz, who according to Peter Walton has previous, so he obviously deserves a red card card on that basis, and Sadio Mane.
    Luiz is clipped by the attacker and sent off whilst a penalty is awarded, so expect more simulation in the box in those situations, whilst Sadio Mane clearly elbowed Kieran Tierney in the face at Anfield, same officials, and nothing happened.

    Was it because Mane in the mind of the referee doesn’t have previous (which he actually does) or was it because it was Liverpool?

    Or was it, as Peter Walton revealed in his comments, that referees are biased?

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