Arsenal v Wolves: Inside track on Mikel Arteta's Gunners

Wolves take on Arsenal this weekend hoping to get a big result at the Emirates - get to know their opponents here.

Arsenal's Mohamed Elneny (centre) and team-mates appear dejected
Arsenal's Mohamed Elneny (centre) and team-mates appear dejected

We spoke with the team behind LT Arsenal, and Peter Wood from Le-Grove Arsenal blog to get a proper look at Mikel Arteta's side.

See what they had to say here.

How has the start of the season treated Arsenal, it seems to have been something of a struggle for consistency so far?

LT: It started off in encouraging fashion after our 3-0 win away to Fulham, but it turned out to be a false flag.

We would go on to lose four of the next eight league games and find chance creation extremely hard to come by.

Watching Arsenal in the league has been a struggle this season. Having said that, our win away to Old Trafford gave us something to feel encouraged about.

Is that a one-off or something that can be construed as a good sign? Time will tell.

PW: Poorly. Arsenal hasn't really had a break out performance this season. Arteta has taken a singleminded approach to making us very difficult to beat, which he's largely achieved, but it's come at the expense of creative expression. We are very bad in the final third and that has cost us in the fine margin encounters we intentionally create.

The biggest difference between this season and last has been the poor form of our most experienced players. Auba has not been at the races, Lacazette has barely looked fit for the league, and Willian has been awful, our record signing Pepe looks a miss. That needs to change if we're to have any hope of success this season.

There seems to have been a bit of criticism levelled at Mikel Arteta's style of play at the Emirates, what seems to be the issue there?

LT: Arteta is extremely structured and emphasises positional play.

He stands on the touchline for 90 minutes constantly shouting at our players, telling them where to stand and giving them constant instruction. To some extent, he could give them a little more freedom in this regard, but our structure on the ball is closely linked to our structure off the ball.

Arsenal defend well as a unit and we need to strive for better balance, but with our current squad I do not have much hope.

We have zero first team creative midfielders who can operate in the final third and lack the variety in our frontline to create at regular intervals.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta

We're essentially a side that relies on 1-2 chances and defends that lead. This isn't Arteta's fault, it is the result of poor squad planning over a number of years.

PW: I think Arsenal fans were expecting an exciting brand of progressive football.

We wanted Pep Guardiola lite, what we've got is a low budget Diego Simeone.

Most fans understand the immense job at hand, but it's still frustrating to see your side go from too creative, to so lacking in spark they can barely muster a shot on target. Arteta needs to find a balance, but sadly, it's starting to look like he'll only find that when he brings in new talent.

Who are the big danger men for Wolves to watch out for this weekend?

LT: I would say Aubameyang. He's scored just one open play league goal since the first game week and is due for something big.

Additionally, Bukayo Saka is playing with great confidence and is another one to watch out for.

PW: Bukayo Saka is probably our most exciting attacking talent. If he's played out on the left, he'll cause problems with his pace and intelligence.

Outside him, we're really looking towards Thomas Partey to get us ticking again. The Ghanaian is a Rolls Royce midfielder. He's powerful, extremely sharp, and he can dominate midfield on his own.

The obvious threat is Auba, if he's playing through the middle and we can get the ball into his feet, he's usually deadly.

Are there any injury/covid doubts heading into the game in the Gunners' ranks?

LT: Bukayo Saka is a doubt, as is Thomas Partey. I have more confidence the former will play as opposed to the latter.

Mohamed Elneny and Sead Kolasinac miss out due to COVID.

Arsenal's Bukayo Saka leaves the field of play

I do not expect Gabriel Martinelli, Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers to feature either as they are slowly coming back from medium-long term injuries.

PW: Mo Elneny. The Egyptian midfielder was an unsung midfield hero before he went on international break hit him with the virus.

There are also doubts with Thomas Partey, Bukayo Saka, and David Luiz. Nicolas Pepe is suspended.

What are the expectations at the Emirates this season within the club and fan base?

LT: The expectation is to make Champions league next season, whether it is through top four or winning the Europa league.

How realistic an aim this is remains to be seen, but it has been four seasons in a row without Champions league qualification and it becomes imperative to get back there as soon as possible.

PW: I think the hope is that we're within spitting distance of top four come February.

If we can treat our slightly more favourable run in like a cup run, then there could be a chance. Most fans would settle for top six given the state of things right now.

What's your predicted XI for this encounter?

LT: Barring no fresh injuries from the Europa league, I expect we will go with a 3-4-3.

Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Saka, Xhaka, Ceballos, Willian, Aubameyang, Nelson.

PW: Leno; Bellerin, Gabriel, Holding, Tierney; Partey, Ceballos; Willock; Nelson, Auba, Saka.

What have you made of Wolves from afar, how do you think they'll do this season?

LT: It has been a delight to watch Wolves ever since they came into the Premier league. The way Nuno has extracted maximum out of that group of players has been fantastic.

Wolves strike me as a side that can carve apart any team in the world in counter transitions, evidenced by their phenomenal record against the so called 'big six' teams.

Arsenal's Reiss Nelson, right, celebrates taking the score to 0-2, with Joe Willock, centre, and Eddie Nketiah

They did extremely well last season to balance playing in Europe with the league and were unlucky not to qualify to Europe this time around.

I reckon Wolves will finish top half of the table this season and cement themselves as a solid presence in the league.

PW: I think they'll be challenging for top four. The manager knows what he's doing. They've made great signings again.

The team is powerful, fast, and well drilled. It's a great set up.

Your match prediction?

LT: I am going with a 1-0 win to Arsenal. We are due a win!

PW: Wolves 1-1 Arsenal

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