Arsenal vs Wolves Preview and Odds

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Feb 122011

It’s very hard to concentrate on the Wolves game, and not to think of anything else. There’s the small matter of the Barçelona game on Wednesday; there’s also a game in Mansheikster at lunchtime. However, AW is focussed on the task at hand:

There is no Barcelona in mind. There is Wolverhampton in mind… [And the Manchester derby] will not influence us.

He might well say that, but one thing’s for certain – all the players will have one or both of those matches in mind when they take to the field tomorrow afternoon. I hope and pray that Citeh win, with Berbatov and Tevez colliding in a freak accident that sees both of them out for the season with broken heads, shoulders, knees and toes. If ManUre drop points, I want the players to be thinking of the ground we can make up; I want them to have the passion to get a result, see it out to the end, and close the gap on the league leaders.

What I don’t want is the Barça game on anyone’s mind. Yes, of course, a certain Catalunian club captain may be looking forward to entertaining his boyhood hero Guardiola and his international team-mates Iniesta and Xavi more than he’s looking forward to the company of Karl Henry and Mick McCarthy, but the Premiership title is still up for grabs, and there’s a job to be done against the bruisers from the Black Country.

And a bruising game is what I expect to see tomorrow. It must be noted that Wolves are the ultimate giant-killers this season, marking victories over ManUre, Chelski and Liverpool. I hope our hunger for the top spot in the league and desire to put right what went so badly wrong against Newcastle prevail in the face of the European distraction on Wednesday night.

While Song and Djourou are potentially available, I suspect they may be granted further time to recuperate. Diaby is injured and suspended so Denilson will be in, while v Persie and Fabregas return from their mystery sickness, and “will be playing” according to the AW on official site. Rosicky is out after a groin strain he picked up on his way back from the bookies the Czech Republic.

So I expect something like:

Szczesny; Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Clichy; Denilson – Fabregas – Wilshere; Arshavin – v Persie – Walcott

I’d very much like to see Chamakh get a start alongside v Persie. We really haven’t seen very much of the Moroccan since RvP came back from injury. Bendtner is also fit but will more likely than not warm the bench. He really works hard to earn all that money, doesn’t he? Please just don’t ever speak again, Nicklas. Every time he opens his mouth he endears himself less and less to me. I’d rather he did this more often, and had his mouth sewn together to prevent any more foot-in-mouth situations.

As for the odds, it’s hard to find value with the best odds on a home win little over 1/5, reflecting the view of my Chelski-supporting work colleague who thinks we’ll “romp away with it”. But I fear for Wolves’ physicality and our players having half a mind on Wednesday night. And I fear for complacency in our ranks. We’ve also conceded far too much at set pieces this term and I can see that trend continuing, especially if Squillaci partners Koscielny at the back. No, I’m not a fan. Being fair, he should only now be completely used to the Premiership. Anyway, I’ve plumped for a 3-1 win at 21/2 with Unibet, but I put a few sly pennies on 6-0 with William Hill at 50/1. As for first goalscorer, I’m going for our bonkers little Russian at 6s with Bet365.

At 1pm tomorrow I’ll be praying for Citeh and their over-priced, money-grabbing w*nkers to get one over their neighbours. At 3pm, I’ll be praying that the team have got Citeh’s 4-0 mauling of ManUre firmly in the front of their minds. Sorry Arsène.

Come on you gooners!

Arsenally Yours,