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Arsenal vs Wolves a challenging game for the league leaders?

As Arsenal and Wolves prepare for their upcoming match, all eyes are on Gary O’Neil and Mikel Arteta. Both former Premier League players, they have now become brilliant coaches, adding a nostalgic touch to the encounter. Currently, Arteta leads Arsenal, who sit atop the table, with Manchester City closely trailing. Meanwhile, Wolves find themselves in a more secure position. This match promises to be a pivotal moment, testing the table-toppers’ endurance and carrying significant implications for the season ahead.

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When & Where?

Where: Emirates Stadium
When: Saturday, 2nd December 2023.
Time: 15:00 HRS BST

Lineups and Tactics:

Who are Poised to start, the important Battles

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Pic 1 Predicted Lineups for Both Teams

After that big victory against Lens, Arteta’s Gunners are likely expected to make fewer changes in the lineup. The only change could be Leo Trossard coming in for Martinelli if Arteta decides that the Brazilian needs rest in order to give minutes for the Belgian coming in as his replacement.

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For Wolves, it will be certain that O’Neil will try to shake things up after going down to Fulham 3-2 last matchweek. It’s highly expected that Kalajdzic could stake a starting place and Semedo play high up the pitch rather than as a regular right back.

Though tactically Wolves played a 3 back against Fulham, it remains to be seen if in response to Arteta’s approach, O’Neil sees sticking to a 4 back might yield significant results. Expect O’Neil to target the areas where Zinchenko operates with Semedo operating high up. For Ait Nouri, a battle against Saka is one he will have to relish in keeping the mercurial Englishman as much quiet though that has rather been a rarer sight.

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Pic 2 Havertz positioning and runs from LCM into Box

For Kai Havertz, this game could be another to boost his confidence as he slowly gets into a goalscoring groove, and Wolves’ defence will allow Havertz to make another trademark near-post run and slot the ball home. It’s expected that Wolves would likely assign Lemina to manmark the German to track his runs.

What do the Numbers Say:

Key Areas of attack and strategic defense points of Both teams

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Pic 3 A Visualization previewing the game

Wolves are a team that have certainly been a regular at conceding goals. They have in fact conceded more than they scored. But they are also a team that aren’t far away on npxG wrt Arsenal. The Gunners have certainly been the ideal team that have scored plenty and conceded less but the game as data would dictate is likely to be a tight contest.

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Wolves Heatmap wrt their Expected Threat (xT) has seen them generate majority of it from the right flank. While the mercurial Pedro Neto isnt available, the likes of Semedon on the right flank is still a menace to deal with. For Arsenal, one of their own in Bukayo Saka and Captain Martin Odegaard contributing larger xT from the right flank and also the significant amount of Key Passes as we see on the bottom left pitches depicting the same in pic 3.

The main battle would be between Eddie Nketiah and Hwang Hee Chan. Both have showed goalscoring form for their teams in PL, though it’s viable to say Hwang with lot lesser support has managed to keep afloat Wolves battle against the drop.

The Pass Networks of Both Teams give us a good idea of both teams: Wolves a solid overload on their right while Arsenal are the Balanced and high volume team that rely on a uniform positioning between their players, executing the meticulous style of Arteta as opposed to O Neil’s Chaos.

Conclusion

Arsenal are the leaders on top of the table. It was a disappointing heartbreak towards the end of last season when they were leaders for large period of time and came short. These are the games they are expected to show their class and continue to be ahead of City.

For Wolves, they were written off after how their transfer market went in summer and coach Lopetegui leaving even before the season started. But O’Neil has been nothing short of exceptional in getting value out of the players, despite how the results can be labeled. He’s got Hwang Firing, Pedro Neto looking unbeatable until he was lost due to an unfortunate injury. But as such it’s Arteta’s Arsenal and despite how they are certainly not the favorites, O’Neil has also ensured they are not labeled the outright weaker side here.

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