By Bulldog Drummond
The story so far…
- Wolverhampton v Arsenal: at last some tackles, fouls and yellows (and injuries)
- Wolverhampton v Arsenal: how to come out of a bad run.
- Wolverhampton’s runs, referee behaviour and head to heads
In the Premier League era Arsenal have played Wolverhampton 15 times , 14 in the league and once in the FA Cup. Wolverhampton have won one of these, three have been drawn. Since Boxing Day 2003 Arsenal have won nine of the games, including five of the last seven trips to their ground. Only Liverpool have won more games there.
And indeed we have scored in 27 successive matches against Wolverhampton in all competitions, a run that takes us back to a 2-0 FA Cup win in 1979. Against this Wolverhampton, having won their last three league games, but have never ever won four in a row in the Premier League. In fact, they last won four in a row in either the Premier League or League Division One in 1972 – just after Arsenal won the double for the first time.
Now it is interesting that people make quite a bit of fuss about Arsenal not having a goalscorer. But Wolverhampton’s three top goal scorers have each scored just four goals. Arsenal’s top scorer, Smith Rowe, is not going to be breaking records this season but has over double this number.
Such a set of stats might suggest that previews of the game could look favourably upon Arsenal but the Telegraph use today to launch a fierce attack on everything Arsenal, under the headline “Exodus leaves season and summer plans on a knife edge”
It tells us “An air of vulnerability surrounds Arsenal”. It is a clear attempt to stir up the AAA through talk of six players having left and none brought in – forgetting to say only two of those (Chambers and Maitland Niles) were getting games Chambers having three starts and Maitland-Niles four.
The implication is that Arsenal should have bought players no matter what the price, availability or quality, even though all the stats show that transfers in only make a small difference (we are two places better off than we were at the end of last season, having spent more than any other club last summer). But of course by stoking up all these tales of Arsenal’s doom, the price of incoming players goes up with every “Arsenal are desperate” story, and the likelihood of a player wanting to come to Arsenal goes down with each media tale of chaos.
But there are positives out there. For example Emile Smith Rowe will become the first Arsenal player to score in four consecutive Premier League away games since Giroud in 2015 if he can get one tonight.
And although he probably won’t play tonight (having played in all the games up to and including the final) Mohamed Elneny who was part of the CAF Team of the Tournament for the Cup of Nations will be available for the next game.
Indeed much of the “injury crisis” so beloved of the media, has gone with Takehiro Tomiyasu, Cedric Soares, Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka and Nicolas Pepe all now available. But that doesn’t stop the BBC from predicting a 2-0 defeat for Arsenal.
But the reality is one or two results elsewhere have gone our way of late particularly with Tottenham losing at home to the mighty Southampton and Manchester United drawing with Burnley. As a result, the table shows us equal on points and games with Tottenham, but with a better goal difference.
|4||West Ham United||24||12||4||8||42||31||11||40|
Looking up with have two games in hand over Manchester United and need just one win in those two to overtake them, and three games in hand over West Ham. Two wins in those three will put us two points above West Ham and back in the fourth spot we previously occupied.
Of course it would be lovely to be back in the days when at the start of each season fourth was a certain minimum and the anti-Wengerians would complain that was not enough and he should be moved on. In the end he was, we’ve seen the consequence and no journalist or blogger seems to have apologised for such a silly campaign.
Now it is all about buying more players and changing the manager again. Twas ever thus.
Up next, the team.