Arsenal won’t want Wolves to be partying like it’s 1979

Premier League: Arsenal v Wolves, Emirates Stadium, Tuesday December 27, 3pm

Wolves’ association with the Premier League has so far been defined by dogged relegation battles and this year is no exception.

By the time 2012 rolls around Mick McCarthy’s mood could be even gloomier than usual, as his side face three consecutive battles with leading clubs, beginning with Monday’s visit to N5, where they have not won since 1979.

That is followed by hosting Chelsea on January 2 and then heading to Tottenham later next month, which could dump Wolves firmly in the relegation mire by the end of January.

Optimism will undoubtedly be in short supply around Molineux, but at least the players can look forward to a bit of Christmas shopping in the capital.

Midfield duo David Edwards and Jamie O’Hara are doubts to making the trip, with Stephen Hunt and Nenad Milijas expected to deputise.

It is the fitness of top scorer Steven Fletcher that is key though if Wolves hope to cause an upset against Arsenal, as the Scotland international is the visitors’ most likely source of goals.

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The in-form striker is a hard working, hard-running and strong physical presence at the top of the pitch, but he also possesses a deft touch and a keen eye for goal.

His skills are likely to be utilised as Wolves will look to play to their strengths and take advantage of their physical presence and height in the box; a tactic often employed by struggling visitors.

A greater concern to Wolves fans though, will be the state of their defence, which has struggled this season to keep goals at bay.

This is a problem which the visitors have struggled with historically; having last beaten the Gunners 32 years ago in the old Division One. However, McCarthy will be hoping to buck that trend and steer Wolves towards the safety of mid-table.

Wolves have been given a temporary reprieve from a potential defeat from an unlikely source, however, as a planned London Underground strike on Boxing Day forced the game to be postponed until Tuesday.