Wolves Preview: Character Required

Arsenal return to the scene of the crime seven days after the chaos which typifies Unai Emery’s reign erupted.

Unsurprisingly, Granit Xhaka isn’t playing. I doubt the Emirates will see him until the end of the month when Southampton visit. His letter this week enraged as many as his petulant amble last weekend. Time may be a great healer but not in this case, particularly if Xhaka wears the armband again. 

That, however, is a confrontation for another day. The pressure is squarely on Unai Emery to deliver a first league win since Bournemouth succumbed one month ago. 

Ornstein reported the same senior management which came close to offering Emery a contract extension last summer are “content” to wait until next year to bring in a new coach. It’s a sharp change in tack and approaching an international break, is there a sense change will happen sooner?

Certainly, failing to win last weekend upped the ante. Yes, VAR bore an undue influence on the game but the same weaknesses which destroyed last season are resurfacing. Principally, we cannot close games out. 

Wednesday night’s madness confirmed it is a systemic problem. No matter which XI we field, there is always a lead to be dropped. Not every time, of course, but you’re never sure which Arsenal is on the field until calamity strikes.

With the furore over Xhaka parked for a week or so, it is Mesut Özil who steps into the limelight. Emery is likely to include the German from the start and in part, that’s no surprise. He isn’t an impact substitute and we’re running out of options to play the creative role.

It’s one of few changes I’d expect this weekend. Hector Bellerin looks a couple games away still, leaving Lucas Torreira the other new face.

Change is Good

Özil played well on Wednesday and his withdrawal, no matter how planned it was, was detrimental to the team. There is, of course, some perspective needed. It was Liverpool’s reserves so going overboard now is, well, over the top. Not at 4.45, however, if we win and he plays well.

It also is the opportunity for Torreira to take his place in what many see as the club’s best midfield pairing. Good performances alongside Guendouzi ought to make it a permanent pairing but Emery is wedded to the idea of Xhaka as defensive midfielder.

The Uruguayan cuts a frustrated figure at times but this is a moment for him to seize. Certainly, he was visibly upset last weekend but football friendships come a poor second to a place in the starting line-up.

Wolves found us easy to play against last season; predictable and simple to frustrate. They haven’t changed this season but are struggling to win in the league with six draws already.

I’d expect our XI to be:

Leno; Chambers, Luiz, Sokratis, Tierney: Guendouzi, Torreira, Özil; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang 

It’s a big match for Arsenal, one which must be won. I don’t think they have the character to claw back a seven-point gap to the top four which with the wrong set of results could very well be the case.

Hopefully, it won’t come to that and we’ll take three very much needed points.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

‘Til Tomorrow.

99 thoughts on “Wolves Preview: Character Required

  1. Stu says:


    A cunning plan to publish today’s thoughts during the RWC final. Looks like England have a touch of the Arsenal’s at the moment.

    Hopefully both will turn things around and driver too winning results today.

  2. jonnygunner says:

    Morning all-thanks for the post YW

  3. kenyan gunner says:

    It’s been tough being a gooner since the move to the Emirates. We were sold the hype that we’d now compete against the big boys like Real and Barca. We bought the hype. Then there was the rubbish of a youth system. How many of you are old enough to remember Mark Randall? The most frustrating point though is that gooner fans pay the highest fee for a ticket in world soccer. Somebody is screwing us and laughing all the way to the bank!

  4. Adam Singh says:

    England getting smashed.

    Intrigued to see how Torreira, Guendouzi, Özil get on together. Everyone’s first choice midfield (apart from Emery) but will it work? Hopefully….

  5. Bill says:

    Great preview yogi.

    It’s very early in the season to be talking about must win games but this one is certainly important. Wolves are going to be difficult to beat but hopefully we can find a way.

  6. Bill says:

    I had expected Wolves to be one of the teams that could potentially challenge for a top 4 spot. They started slowly but they are still a very dangerous team.

  7. potter says:

    kenyan gunner,

    Randall and Lansbury were to be the future of Arsenal , how often have we heard that ?

  8. Spike says:

    Emery could easy play Torreira as the number 10 today!

    I dont think we will win today, sadly, and predict the same result as last season. We really are a shambles and theres no sign of the coach being able to change things for the better.

    I’d love to be proved wrong though.

  9. C says:


  10. C says:

    Or maybe we see a 4312 with Ozil floating in the hole behind Lacazette and Aubameyang.

    Subs: martinez, Bellerin, Sead, Willock, Saka, Pepe, Gabriel

  11. Spike says:


    No Pepe?
    Ceballos AND Ozil?


  12. Adam Singh says:


    No Pepe?
    Ceballos AND Ozil?


    Very strange. Didn’t see that team selection / formation.

  13. Woolwich Freddie says:


    Wolves outthought us more than any other team last season. They simply had our number. If Emery wanted a little redemption, picking effective tactics today would be a great start. Above all he must remember we are playing another counter-attacking team who are actually good at it.
    At least we can see the Xhakaless midfield in a Premier League game – the evidence suggests it’s still too easy to run through but I bet it can do a passable job of pressing high up the pitch if everyone participates.
    It’s a change, anyway, no matter how enforced.

  14. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Woolwich Freddie,

    But looking at that lineup, he’s going for all our attacks coming through the fullbacks again. Wolves will wait, pick them off and counter efficiently.

  15. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Woolwich Freddie,

    It’s difficult because Ozil had earned a shot and he can’t be one of a 3 man midfield with the personnel we’ve got. However, our wingers were also playing well and we will miss the width against Wolves.

  16. Woolwich Freddie says:


    I wouldn’t mind seeing the 4-3-1-2 but I fear it’s the narrow diamond with the fullbacks running the entirety of the flanks on their own.

  17. Woolwich Freddie says:


    Yeah, if you’re going to put money on something, I’d go for Ozil and Torreira coming off before the hour.

  18. C says:


    Might be dropping Pepe to take him out of the limelight and let him breathe.

  19. C says:

    Aubameyang!!!!!!!! Lacazette to Aubameyang and BANG!!!

  20. Noon Gunner says:

    I sense (via my TV) a great relief amongst the fans that we’ve got our Ozil back.

  21. C says:

    Ozil doing Ozil like things and then tracking back

  22. C says:

    Noon Gunner,

    My commentators are saying the samething and he is looking to dictate play all over the pitch. You see the players on the pitch looking for him too.

  23. Noon Gunner says:


    It’s his off-the-ball movement that’s catching my attention – suggests to me he’s decided he can be a significant leader in this team, which in turn suggests a big shift over recent days.

    And so much for us wanting to see Torreira planted in front of our back four – what do you think Emery has asked him to do? In several moves he’s been our forward-most player

  24. C says:

    Noon Gunner,

    His off-the-ball movement has always been quality but he is dropping deeper to help create space and passing lanes to help us play. If I’m not mistaken, Sead has talked about that very thing this week.

    Torriera seems to be doing the leg work in midfield and helping Chambers but has been given license to push higher. Its almost as if Emery has told Torriera to offer more higher up the pitch pressing along with Ozil.

  25. C says:

    Tierney has done really well dealing with Traore’s pace, which is beyond electric.

  26. C says:

    Saka coming on Torriera.

    Why not leave Torriera on to see out the match 🤷🏾‍♂️

  27. C says:

    Chambers is quietly having a good game after a rough early start.

  28. Noon Gunner says:

    Might it be because UE has enough confidence in our defence this afternoon? HA!!! As I type – we give them their equaliser!

  29. C says:

    Switch off in our own defensive half and Jimenez scores but what was Sokaritis and Chambers doing there.

    So fucking annoying

  30. Spike says:

    Noon Gunner,

    Nope, it’s because Emery is trying his damnedest to get the sack as quick as possible.

  31. Spike says:

    Noon Gunner,

    If we dont win he should be sacked. This isnt getting any better, the players ain’t buying into whatever ‘plan’s he has.

  32. C says:

    Ozil with a sneaky little run and put a ball that just needed a touch

  33. Ras says:


    No C Ceballos is clearly at fault . He didn’t track his player. He let him and it was a simple lob. Yes Chambers and Sokratis should have done better.

    Am I surprised Wolves have scored ? No it was just a matter of time.

    I’ve said it before Ceballos is a show pony. He can hardly run. He’s decent with the all at his feet but when not in possession he’s not very good.

    It’s sad that Emery will not be sacked until tbe end of the Year, it maybe sooner.

  34. Spike says:


    Emery taking g Torreira off, plays him up the pitch rather than as a DM… what the fuck is in his thinking???

  35. C says:


    Agree about Ceballos not tracking the runner but not about the rest.

    The real shame is that, that moment of switching off is going to change the narrative of this match.

  36. Spike says:

    Joker of a coach, needs to be replaced as soon as possible. Useless

  37. Spike says:


    We ate a sad, dull, predictable, mid table team. With a Championship manager. And that’s where he will take us if the owners keep him!

  38. Woolwich Freddie says:

    A mixed performance against decent opposition. Ozil surprisingly given 90 and puts in a performance for 90. Some excellent crosses with no one to meet them. Some good defending but decidedly not for 90. I learned very little today.

  39. andy1886 says:

    Time running out for Unai. But does anyone actually trust the owner/board or management to find a decent coach? Can’t say that I’d be confident.

  40. consolsbob says:

    Got my Arsenal Membership Pack today.

    Somehow reminded me that it was about time to cancel it.

  41. Michael says:

    Leave it too long and Fat Sams might be ringing.
    So annoying, that unbeaten run last season, promised much.

  42. andy1886 says:


    Could well be that Brendan will be laughing at us next week. Don’t like the bloke but he’s a far better coach than Emery.

  43. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Just waiting for Arsene Junior to come out with the old ‘judge me in May’ comment.

  44. kenyan gunner says:

    The moment he removed Torreira I knew we were in trouble and I’ve never coached a team at any level in my life!

  45. Michael says:

    We have a goal difference of +1 after 11 matches, with our players that can score, that’s a disgrace.
    I really can’t see him lasting much longer.

  46. JonJon says:

    wolves had 25 shots

    at our gaff…..what a fucking clown….

    whens this going to end? hellen keller could see this blokes about as useful as a chocolate fireguard.

  47. JonJon says:

    what manager in the world would play a 4 man midfield with ozil and ceballos in it and play torriera as the furthest one forward?

    where did he get his coaching badges? online?

    come on josh sort it out ffs. the man has all that talent to play with, tells them all to run the wrong way and thinks the way to win a football match is to let the other team have more shots than you.

    correct me of im wrong, i know the game evolves all the time but surely thats defeating the object of the fucking game in whatever era…..

    he couldn’t hold onto a lead if it was attached to a hamster.

    has to go…has to go now. dont care who comes in as long as its not mourinho.

    sort it. before we quickly find that the money raul spent in the summer to build a top 4 squad is pissed down the toilet by the spanish bruce rioch

  48. JonJon says:

    helen keller?
    that woman who was blind and deaf.

  49. C says:


    Emery is a good manager, look at the CV, just not doing it at Arsenal or in the PL which is the problem. Shame though, cause we players to be bettet than what we are.

    There were positives though for sure.

  50. C says:

    The Torriera thing seems to be the biggest thing hovering around Arsenal, why not leave him on and take off Ceballos. The othet question is, why not bring on Pepe instead of Saka for me.

  51. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Oddly we’re 5th in the best league in the world.

    Funny old game.

  52. Bill says:

    Same old same old. I didn’t think we really looked any more dangerous or creative or more likely to score with ozil in the line up and I don’t think our midfield was more solid with Torriera and Huendouzi and no Xhaka

  53. C says:

    Woolwich Freddie,

    The one thing I did learn was that our midfield needs to be based on Torriera and Guendouzi with Ozil or Ceballos ahead of them. Other thing I learned was how vital Lacazette is to this squad.

  54. C says:

    We created chances and should have scored more. Wolves, are a side that will always create down the flanks, like they did today. They make run after run after run down those inside channels.

    People can say what they want about Leno, but without him, we would be such worst off. Made some absolutely superb saves today.

    Holding in for Sokaritis needs to happen sooner rather than later.

  55. SV says:

    Emery is such a reactionary manager. Not a good fit for a big team in the EPL. Urgency ocurred today only when we conseeded.

    Whoever expects a solvation from Ozil, has not been watching for the last five years. He did not manage to make a difference in his better years, even less so now.

  56. C says:


    He didn’t make a difference in his better years? Interesting but incorrect.

  57. Spike says:


    I’m not sure he us a good coach though. Not under pressure, not at organising a defence, not at man management, not at changing things in game, not at communicating.

    He is a decent cup manager.

    He appears weak and stubborn. Not a great combination.

    He needs to go. He IS awful!

  58. consolsbob says:

    Paulie Walnuts,

    The trouble with that point is that you have to take into account others’ ability. I have never cared about other teams’ performance, it is ours that matters.

    By any gauge of quality, we are poor. Really poor, it matters little that others are not performing. If they were, we would really be in the shit. We will never have any control over how others perform.

  59. Bill says:


    We didn’t look any different then we have all season and the results were the same. Your minds eye will see whatever you hope to see

    Ozil used to be the most dynamic eye catching creative midfielder who consistentlymade some of the best final passes in the world. Now the best thing you can say about him is something as nebulous as praising his movement off the ball. The skills that made him a special player have faded away

  60. Ras says:


    Holà. I think ( as I obviously am not privy to the the thoughts of Emery) the possible reason that Emery decides to play Torreira so high up the pitch as Emery is possibly thinking like Sarri did with Kante.

    Torreira being good at winning the ball back is it that Emery thinks if We can win the ball higher in their half We are closer to possibly scoring. I can see no other reason why. Last season when Sarri was at Chelsea it was a similar narrative.

    We have to many players are whom are not very good without the ball especially in midfield. To many players who are to similar to each other.

    Truth be told Xhaka and Ceballos would be the first casualties under my cull in midfield.

    In defense Luiz , Mustafi and Sokratis would be done with. I don’t like all the theatrics Of Sokratis. He’s brought a lot of diving and added to the air of uncertainty. Mustafi what can i say.

    What is the hesitation from the those above? Emery after all is ONLY The Coach.
    The Old Model with Arsene is but a distant memory .

    Things are going from bad to worse.

  61. Wavey says:

    Feels a lot like last season. We hung on around the top 4 spots all season without playing that well at all. At the end of the season our indifferent form let us down at home when it really counted and we managed to take only 1 point from the last 2 home games. We have been playing pretty average football with the odd spark of genius thrown in every so often for a while. The rot started under Wenger and Emery clearly isn’t a strong enough manager to stop it. He seems to think that he is showing his command over the team by his handling of Ozil, but his ongoing support of Xhaka shows that he has no control at all. Having a blind ballot amongst the players to pick the captain? Is he mad? If he doesn’t know who he wants to be his captain, he shouldn’t be in charge.
    His random tactics, the decision to continue to play 2 30+ players at the heart of our defence in the PL, his nonsensical substitution decisions. All signs that he hasn’t a clue in the PL. I truly hope the club is not intending to stick with him under some misguided belief that he can be the next 20-year manager at Arsenal. He has had his chance and it hasn’t panned out. Make the decision now and let someone else have a crack at it before the gap to the top 4 becomes a chasm.

  62. Ras says:


    Emery is an average Manager.

    Do you see any of the Players ready to run through brick walls for Emery? No. He’s simply just does not possess that particular j n sais qoi comme Pep, Klopp. Both of whom are at ease in English.

  63. Bill says:

    We were outshot 33-14 and they had 8 on target compared to our 4. The stats support what our eye balls saw and we certainly did not do a better job of controlling the midfield today then we have in our other games

  64. phil says:

    Every team who play us, know they are a chance to score. Never out of the match.
    We are the complete opposite of intimidating.

  65. SV says:


    I remember the season when Leicester won the league, and Ozil’s indifferent performances of that time, especially away from home. Never stood up. The same in Wenger’s final year, in the league and in Europe against Atletico. Being a limited player with half-hearted attitude, Ozil never repaid Wenger for his trust in him. Ozil was one of the biggest reasons Wenger had to go. Why Wenger gave him a new huge contract will be an enigma forerver. And yes, I was genuinely excited we singed him!

  66. SV says:

    Ozil is slow, not a good dribbler, does not have a good shot from distance, is not physically strong, is average in the air.

    But apart from that, he is perfect. If you disagree, you do not understand football.

  67. Woolwich Freddie says:


    I think we both learned that before today. The problem is, I don’t think Unai will have learned it after today. The waters are also somewhat muddied by the fact that Ozil dropped deep quite a bit, I thought quite successfully. Ceballos looks good and puts in the effort but was culpable for the goal. Both of them is definitely a stretch, although both played well today.

  68. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Agree with the general consensus there is no change from last season and Emery should go. SV mentioned Leicester’s winning season- there are similarities this time around in that many others are rebuilding/struggling and once again we have failed to take advantage. I sympathize with the club on the basis it cannot compete financially with some of our rivals but that means you really go for it in years like this.

  69. Spike says:


    I honestly thought he could be a really clever choice to replace Wenger. The players mentioned the preparation, the tactical input from Emery, it all seemed exactly what was needed as an antithesis to Wenger, the latter years!

    But something has gone horribly awry and it seemed to occur towards the end of last season.

    Fuck k ows what’s happened???

    But he clearly hasn’t got it within him to change things.

  70. Spike says:


    Jeez! We didn’t have a single shot on target in the 2nd half!

  71. C says:


    Ozil’s not a good dribbler yet when in the mood ghosts past players. You say he is slow but last I checked the ball moves faster than a player and he can pick a pass, if you disagree then you don’t know futbol. Is not physically strong, you sound like somebody who watches futbol from the 70’s and 80’s, I can name you world class players who were NEVER considered strong. Shot from distance, he is a creator and o by the way, when he does shoot from diatance he has been known to score quite a few….plus Xhaka’s giod from distance, hell David Luiz has a superb shot from distance, what does that have to do with anything?

    Yup, Ozil was shit the season Leicester won the PL despite leading the league in assists and smashing the chances created. Actually Ozil was superb that season and if memory serves, wasn’t that the seasom Giroud went something silly like 20 matches straight without a goal at the business end of the season. Look at our 3 trophies since his arrival, he was massive in all of those runs, if anything having Giroud as his CF was the failing of us not winning the PL the season Leicester won it.

    Maybe its just me, but you sound silly mate.

  72. C says:

    Woolwich Freddie,

    Tend to agree with all of that. Thought Ozil dropping deep was part of what sort of ‘got us into the game’. He dropped deeper but still joined in the attack which was good. Definitelg think the midfield base needs to be 2 of Willock/Guendouzi/Torriera and either Ceballos or Ozil ahead of them in most matches.

    I get Gabriel and Saka are ready and capable, but why them over Pepe if your going to take off Torriera and look to play on the counter.

  73. phil says:

    It’s not just you C.
    Ozil is an assist master , and would have more, if the opportunities he gifted others were taken.
    I would start him every time.

  74. C says:


    Obviously he isn’t the player he once was but today’s result had abaolutely nothing to do with Ozil. He still creates.

  75. phil says:

    No he is not C,
    But his best is still better than most

  76. Wailesy says:

    We’re in a bit of strife here. If we don’t turn it around I can see a lot of players walking out the door. That will cost the club substantially more than paying out Emery and bringing someone else in.

    It’s just not good enough from Emery. His English is just too poor and not improving quick enough to manage in England I’m sorry.

  77. Bill says:


    Ozil was always his most effective in the attacking 1/2 and the final 1/4. He is dropping deeper because he is no longer making things happen up higher. If he was still the ozil From 5 years ago he would not be doing this.

  78. C says:


    He is dropping deeper because Wolves were pressing us and we needed to get higher up the pitch. Its similiar to when you see a winger or CF drop deep during a match…..its because they aren’t getting the service required so they drop deeper to help. Funny, since you love stats, there is one floating about that Ozil created the most chances of any Arsenal player under Emery including Ramsey.

  79. Bill says:


    Emery would be absolutely ecstatic if he could have the ozil who had25 league goals and assists in 15/16. Unfortunately ozil is no longer that type of player. We are left with the olayer who is no longer capable of that sort of production. We are left with the ozil who gives us 7 league goals and assists last season

  80. Spike says:


    It’s obvious Ozil isnt giving the club a decent return on the investment. But, he isnt going anywhere soon and has made that clear.

    Given this and the teams distinct lack of creativity in midfield, it only makes Emerys stance even more baffling.

    Ozil should play more, or at least be given enough of an sporty city to show that he deserves selection.

    Hopefully the new manager will look to get the most out of him.


  81. Ras says:


    Emery bringing on Saka over Pepe just highlights again the job is to big for him.

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