Arsenal are back in competitive action after an 18-day break from football as they travel to Molineux on Thursday to take on Wolverhampton Wanderers.
It hasn’t been much fun, has it? What an exceedingly drab and dull break from playing.
That 0-0 draw to Burnley capped off a five-game winless run in January, which was followed by an anti-climactic transfer window where the club opted against making a marquee centre-forward or midfield addition.
They had their reasons, and their reasons have left Mikel Arteta with a small squad to complete the final 17 matches of the Premier League season.
Arsenal predicted lineup vs Wolves: 4-2-3-1 with Alexandre Lacazette leading the attack as Gabriel Martinelli keeps his place in the Premier League?
Among that group are Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey, who thankfully are both available to feature in the Black Country having served their respective suspensions for being…well, not especially clever boys.
What everyone is crossing their fingers for is that Takehiro Tomiyasu will be available. Playing the full 90 minutes in that Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Liverpool without having had a single training session showed in his performance. He was dead on his feet.
Arteta confirmed a two-week absence for him with a calf injury and it might be that Wolves comes too soon. Having let Calum Chambers leave to join Aston Villa, the person to fill that gaping void is obvious.
There is also a decision to make on Emile Smith Rowe, who is finding minutes hard to come by due to the form of Gabriel Martinelli, therefore the option opens for Alexandre Lacazette to drop to the bench if Arteta wants more goalscoring threat on the pitch.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Aaron Ramsdale (GK) – A poor January by his standards saw him look shakier than usual and lack his normal composure. Here’s to an improved February.
Cedric Soares (RB) – The biggest concern here is Cedric forgetting he plays for Arsenal on account of the sea of Portuguese players he’s coming up against.
Benjamin White (CB) – It looks likely that White will clock up the most minutes of any Arsenal player this season as he currently sits 165 minutes ahead of the second in line, Bukayo Saka.
White could find himself frustrated on Thursday against Wolves’ solid low block.
Gabriel (CB) – If Arsenal had have been in FA Cup action over the previous weekend this match might have come too soon for Gabriel, but back and fully fit after Brazil action means he’s straight back into the team.
Kieran Tierney (LB) – This will be a tricky game for Tierney. His deliveries from wide are usually superb, but this is a Wolves side who are imperious in the air and boast a goalkeeper in Jose Sa who is superb at commanding his box.
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