It is that stage of the season, where each and every point counts. Any points dropped would cost the team in one way or another. And the fact that Arsenal dropped three very vital points at the Emirates against Crystal Palace last week, this game at the Molineux makes it a must-win one for Unai Emery and his men.
It seems like the gaffer fumbled upon a formula against Roy Hodgson’s side, as he deployed Matteo Guendouzi and Mohamed Elneny, two of Arsenal’s bench players, despite knowing he did not have Sokratis in his line up. It was a tough call, and Emery had to rotate his players for the away trip against Wolves, but the decision backfired. On the other hand, Wolves dropped points against 17th-placed Brighton at home, as the game ended 0-0. Both the teams come into this game with not-so-good performances in the recent week, which makes this fixture even more exciting.
Wolves are fighting for the Europa League spot, as Nuno’s men are only two points behind Watford, who sit at seventh, with a game in hand for Wolves as well. Whereas if Arsenal deals a defeat today, their hopes for a top-four finish will likely cease, despite Chelsea dropping two points on Monday night against Burnley. These are the four reasons why this game is a must-win fixture for the London side.
Arsenal have to play Leicester and Burnley away, after playing Wolves on Wednesday night. A Europa League fixture against Valencia is squeezed in as well, which makes the run-in even more difficult. If Arsenal fail to get a result against Nuno’s men, the pressure on the players for the last three games will be immense, and this Arsenal squad haven’t been impressive when it comes to displaying character and will to succeed on the pitch.
Arsenal seem to have improved on their away form, as the Gunners won two back to back away games, keeping two clean sheets as well; against Watford in the league and against Napoli in the Europa League. However, Arsenal were helped by the fact that Troy Deeney left the pitch with a red card in the 15th minute, and they were already two goals up against Napoli before going into the return leg.
Well, that won’t be the case against Wolves. Emery’s men will have to fight tooth and nail to score against a robust side like Wolves, and the home side’s goalscoring threats are not to be underestimated. When these two teams last met, Arsenal were lucky to grab a point through Mkhitaryan’s cross, which luckily ended in the back of the net as Patricio failed to judge the cross.
Chelsea had to pit their wits against Burnley, a side who haven’t been much consistent in the defensive aspects of the game as they have conceded nearly 62 goals this season in the league. However, luckily for Arsenal and Manchester United, they were able to get a draw which could prove to be much worse for Chelsea than it looks. Sarri’s men had a chance to go third, only two points behind Spurs, but they bottled it and are now three points behind Pochettino’s side.
So, the reason why this game is important for the Gunners is that if they get a win, they will be able to go two points ahead of Chelsea and only one behind Tottenham, whereas a defeat would take them back to sixth, in case United somehow manage a win against their high-flying rivals.
The return of Sokratis will let Unai Emery get off his toes, as Mustafi has caused some serious problems for Arsenal this season. Emery is likely to shift back to a 3-4-1-2, and he will try his best not to include Mustafi from now on till the end of the season, which will help Arsenal qualify for the Champions League.
What makes this game even more interesting is that Manchester United have to play Man City next, and they’re likely to succumb to a defeat considering their form, and in case Arsenal get the win, they will be five points ahead of Man United, potentially ending Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dreams of playing Champions League football next season.
On the other hand, Chelsea have tough away fixtures against United and Leicester. Fun fact, Leicester took all the three points home when they last played Chelsea, despite playing at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have been overpowered by Leicester as well as United, and Arsenal have a good chance to increase the points gap between their city rivals.
Arsenal have a brilliant chance to solidify their position, and Emery is likely to go with his best XI. A win would totally change the ball game, with Arsenal having control of the fourth spot.