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Saka and Tierney to return: How Arsenal could line up vs Wolves

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Arsenal extended their Premier League unbeaten run to seven games with a draw against Manchester United at the weekend, but Mikel Arteta’s side aren’t really in a position to be celebrating dropped points.

 

The Gunners are still a way off the European places, and they need to keep winning to maintain any hope of finishing the season in them.

 

Arteta will probably need to make a few changes in midweek, however, having started almost exactly the same team against both Southampton and Manchester United last week. Here’s our Arsenal predicted lineup vs Wolves

Goalkeeper

Bernd Leno of Arsenal looks on after he makes a save during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester United at Emirates Stadium
After Mat Ryan’s knock ahead of the weekend, there’s even less doubt about the starting goalkeeper. Bernd Leno played excellently and kept another clean sheet against Manchester United, so he’ll keep his place here.

Defence

Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney warms up prior to the Premier League match at The Hawthorns, West Bromwich. Michael Regan
Gabriel Magalhaes and Pablo Mari are both potential options to give David Luiz a rest, but Mari is still a fitness doubt at the moment. It’s hard to see Arteta dropping both Luiz and Holding at once, so Holding will probably keep his place alongside Gabriel.

You get the impression that Kieran Tierney is only narrowly missing out at the moment. He’s taking part in squad training sessions, and the official Arsenal updates suggest it was only a late call that ruled him out of the Manchester United match.

As a result, we’re predicting him to make his comeback to the team on Tuesday. Hector Bellerin will presumably start on the right, given the only alternative is Cedric Soares, who has played even more often than Bellerin in the last four matches.

Midfield

Arsenal’s Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard (L) chats with Arsenal’s Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka (C) and Manchester United’s Swedish defender Victor Lindelof (R)
Granit Xhaka put in a good performance at the weekend and is likely to continue to keep his place in the side. He’s one of those rare players who doesn’t often need a rest, and he’s also important to the team right now.

We’d all like to see Thomas Partey alongside him, but the Ghana international has had all those injury problems lately and it would be a risk to include him as a starter again. The same goes for Emile Smith Rowe.

As a result, we’re predicting a couple of changes in midfield, with Dani Ceballos and Martin Odegaard coming in. This is partly what Odegaard was brought in for, to help ensure we get the best out of Smith Rowe by not overplaying him.

Forward

It’s hard to see anyone other than Alexandre Lacazette starting up front. Eddie Nketiah is available, but right now he’s only playing when Arteta absolutely has to rest Lacazette. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is seemingly quarantining.

If Bukayo Saka is fit, he’ll surely come back in. Nicolas Pepe worked hard and completed another 90 minutes on Saturday, so a rest might be a good idea for him.

Gabriel Martinelli and Willian only played 45 each at the weekend, so it could be either of them against Wolves on the left. Martinelli is surely the bigger goal threat, which is important in Aubameyang’s absence, so we’re putting him in.

Arsenal predicted lineup vs wolves

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Robin van Persie & the red card that cost Arsenal dearly in 2011

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Remember when Arsenal were good? No, didn’t think so.

 

Joking aside, 2011 brings bittersweet memories for Gunners fans and, rose-tinted spectacles or not, most of them would snap your hand off if offered to go back to those times. Yes, even with Marouane Chamakh on the books and Jens Lehmann back in the squad.

 

Having completed an iconic 2-1 comeback win against Barcelona in front of a raucous Emirates Stadium, Arsenal felt invincible once again. A Jack Wilshere masterclass and a winning goal from Andrey Arshavin (who the streets will never forget) saw them take one step towards the Champions League quarter final, having schooled the competition favourites in a mighty and characterful display in north London.

 

With the second leg date set for 8 March 2011, Arsenal had a few weeks in between where they had the chance to win some silverware in preparation for the big trip to Barcelona, facing Birmingham in the League Cup final on 27 February.

 

Arsenal took the lead through Robin van Persie, but a last minute winner halted the Gunners in their pursuit of the trophy, because that’s what Arsenal do best. Not to panic, though, because the trip to Spain was waiting and all would be forgotten when the Gunners ran wild on Camp Nou, even if there were doubts over Van Persie’s fitness.

 

Barcelona were out for revenge having had a win in London stolen from under their eyes. They won all four games they played in between the two legs, and arrived at Camp Nou in March ready to throw everything they had at Arsenal.

 

 

It was going well for the Gunners after kick off, until Wojciech Szczesny was injured after saving a free kick from Dani Alves – one that was so hard it dislocated his finger and forced Arsenal into a substitution. Manuel Almunia came on and did well, but that was a sign that it would be a tough night at the office.

 

Arsenal’s defence had managed to limit the numbers of chances afforded to Lionel Messi in the first half, but he found a way through in injury time to give La Blaugrana the lead, majestically dinking the ball over Almunia before tapping home to level the aggregate score line.

 

Arsene Wenger’s side came out with intent after the break, and a bullet header from Sergio Busquets of all people saw the ball rifle into the back of his own net and restore Arsenal’s lead.

 

Then disaster struck.

 

Three minutes later, Van Persie was adjudged to be offside when he latched onto Cesc Fabregas’ through ball and fired just wide. For continuing to play on and taking the shot after the referee had blown his whistle, the Dutchman received a second yellow card and was sent off in bizarre fashion, leaving Arsenal down to 10 men and without their talisman. His face said it all – he was bewildered as to why he was being dismissed.

 

A furious Van Persie appealed to referee Massimo Busacca, explaining that he didn’t hear the whistle amid the cheers and jeers of a full Camp Nou as he burst through on goal. The ref was having none of it, though, and Arsenal capitulated while Barça seized the opportunity.

 

Andres Iniesta turned up the heat in the middle of the park, slaloming past a number of players to assist Xavi and level the aggregate score at 3-3 after 69 minutes. Messi gave his side the lead two minutes later from 12 yards after Laurent Koscielny tripped Pedro inside the box, and that was it.

 

The Gunners turned to a substitute Nicklas Bendtner, who couldn’t find a heroic winning goal for his side- obviously – and Barcelona strolled into the quarter finals winning 3-1 on the night.

 

Speaking after the final whistle, Van Persie hailed the decision as a ‘total joke’ and lambasted the referee for being poor and against Arsenal all night, having ‘killed the game’ with his performance.

 

 

The defeat was a kick in the teeth for Arsenal, who had gone from being favourites to win the League Cup and knock out Barcelona in the Champions League to a side left bereft by two damaging defeats.

 

To make matters worse, the injury to Szczesny resulted in 41-year-old Jens Lehmann being dragged out of retirement as Almunia was the only fit keeper at the club – what a way to end a whirlwind few weeks, eh?

 

It’s difficult to say with any certainty- particularly with a team consisting of Chamakh, Bendtner and the aforementioned German pensioner – whether Arsenal would have become European champions had they beaten Barça. But one thing is for sure – Van Persie’s dismissal cost them dearly on the night, and instead of Arsene Wenger lifting the Champions League high above his head, it was Pep Guardiola.

 

 

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Mikel Arteta demands answers over ‘obvious’ penalty Arsenal were denied in Burnley draw

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was left fuming following his side’s 1-1 draw with Burnley at Turf Moor because of the ‘obvious and clear’ penalty the Spaniard thought the Gunners should have been awarded.

 

It was a passage of play that saw Nicolas Pepe take on the Burnley left-back Erik Pieters, whose arm appeared to meet the ball and block it. The incident wasn’t flagged up by VAR and the game continued.

 

 

Pieters was later penalised for a separate incident when he blocked a goal-bound shot from Pepe, which deflected onto the crossbar and clear. Referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot and brandished a red card, but VAR intervened when replays showed it had struck his shoulder.

 

The latter incident was a perfect example of how VAR should work, but Arteta was perplexed as to why the first incident wasn’t ruled a penalty, which could have given Arsenal the win.

 

“I think it’s obvious and clear, I think there is no debate about that. If that is not a penalty, then would someone explain what a penalty is in this league,” he said, via Arsenal.com.

 

“We created, but we didn’t score enough. We gave a goal to the opponent and then don’t get the decision that we should get. It then becomes very difficult to win the game.”

 

Having taken the lead early through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the goal that Arsenal gave away was avoidable and the result of Granit Xhaka trying to play a pass that had been closed off by Burnley forward Chris Wood, who blocked it and diverted the ball into the goal.

 

Arteta defended Xhaka’s decision making in that instance, insisting that possession-based football from the back is still how he wants his team to play, despite the risks involved.

 

“It is what it is, it’s the way that we play and the way that I want to play,” the boss explained.

 

“We just have to know the risk and the rules that we have in certain areas in terms of the type of balls we have to play. But it is what it is.”

 

 

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English FA explains why Arsenal were denied penalty against Burnley

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The Premier League has claimed that Arsenal were denied a penalty against Burnley because Erik Pieters was in ‘close proximity’ to Nicolas Pepe.

The Gunners were forced to settle for a point at Turf Moor after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s early opener was cancelled out by Chris Wood, who benefitted from a huge mistake by Granit Xhaka.

However, Arsenal felt aggrieved in the 75th minute when Pepe’s touch inside Burnley’s box led the ball to hit Pieters’ outstretched arm, but Mikel Arteta’s side were not awarded a penalty following a VAR review.

Earlier this week, Fulham were involved in a similar incident as Mario Lemina was penalised for handball in the build-up to their disallowed goal against Tottenham.

But in a statement after the game, the Premier League clarified why Arsenal were not given the decision.

‘The ball has hit him from close proximity and he’s had no time to react,’ said the statement. ‘It wasn’t given on-field and the VAR didn’t think it was a clear error.’

 

Arteta, meanwhile, was left in no doubt that his side should have been awarded a penalty. ‘Absolutely,’ the Arsenal manager said after the game.

 ‘I think it is obvious and clear. I think there is no debate about that. ‘If that’s not a penalty, then someone will explain what a penalty is in this league.’

 

 

 

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