Wolves target Arsenal as next scalp on the road to survival
They ended Manchester United’s unbeaten run, now can they do the same to Arsenal?
EVEN before they ended Manchester United’s unbeaten run last weekend, Wolves were already acquiring the taste for defying the odds this season.
Mick McCarthy’s side had already notched victories over Manchester City and Chelsea at Molineux this season, and accounted for Liverpool at Anfield, before dispatching United and their 29-game undefeated sequence on Saturday.
While Arsenal fans and indeed much of the watching nation were grateful that the possibility of ‘Fergie’s Invincibles’ is now consigned to the dustbin, the Gunners would do well to heed the warning sent out by that 2-1 win, which came after going behind to Nani’s early goal.
Wolves have mental strength and battling qualities in spades, perhaps in the image of their manager, and will not arrive at the Emirates to make up the numbers on Saturday.
That is despite a miserable record against the Gunners, who have not been beaten by the Molineux men in 32 years and have won all of the nine encounters in the Arsene Wenger era.
A workaholic midfield will include the likes of Karl Henry, and one-time Arsenal trainee Jamie O’Hara – who is on loan from Spurs – but also a fair bit of skill. Matt Jarvis has proved to be one of the best wide players in the top flight this season, while Adam Hammill was snapped up from Barnsley in January and has plenty of flair, as does the Serbian playmaker Nenad Milijas.
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In defence Richard Stearman and Christophe Berra were both heroic against United and have been so for much of the season, while in attack Irishman Kevin Doyle is hugely under-rated at leading the line.
However, with 13 games remaining, Wolves are still in the relegation zone, and know that time is running out for them to escape it.
They gave Arsenal a real test at Molineux in November when two goals from Marouane Chamakh and a clutch of fine saves from Lukasz Fabianski gave Wenger’s side a slightly deceptive 2-0 win.
Wolves were unlucky that night, but have had better fortunes since. Even so, claiming another big scalp is asking too much this weekend.
Prediction: Arsenal 3 Wolves 1