Happy Friday folks. Hope you’re doing well. At the time of writing Arteta is due to have his press conference in about an hour, so I think I’ll pour over what he says tomorrow, whilst today have a little look at what we’ll be up against tomorrow evening when we play Wolves.

The big question for us will be how fatigued the team is after expending a lot of energy on Wednesday and, if we’re honest, looking a little knackered out in Germany. I’ve seen a couple of bits online about Liverpool last night and apparently they too looked like they were showing signs of fatigue, which is understandable given the volume of games that they have played. We’re in the same boat and had we have had the same amount of recovery time as Wolves (their last game was a 2-2 draw at Forest last Saturday) then I’d probably be feeling a little more bullish about this game. That’s because Wolves are comfortably mid table, they are in no danger of relegation and their form has been patchy, having drawn with Forest, lost at home to West Ham, drawn with Burnley and lost to Villa before that. IN fact their last win came at home to Fulham on 9th March and so with that in mind you’d exp[ect they would be a little more wounded and potentially there for the taking.

But as I said on yesterday’s blog, I do worry about what psychological damage has been done and how the players are feeling having gone out of the Champions League in midweek, where Arteta admitted afterwards that it was a ‘gutted’ dressing room. Last season after a few draws to Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton it all began to unravel and we lost to Brighton and Forest in the dying embers of the season. We’ve been saying all season that this team feels like it is built a little differently, but the Arsenal PTSD remains for me as a fan and so I am still feeling the nerves that we might have players who can’t get themselves out of the funk.

Of course I hope they prove me wrong. But in our last two games we have faded in the second half and that gives me some concerns that the team is running out of juice. It feels like we need to score first and so me being the person I am, I decided to go hunting on the internet on when Wolves get their goals in terms of distribution across first and second half. This webpage suggests that it’s the second half for them and if that rings true, then you do wonder about how important the first half might be. Wolves have scored 17 times in the first half and 29 times in the second half this season. They’ve conceded 21 times in the first half and 30 in the second, so if that rings true and we do indeed start to fade in the second half, that is when Wolves are more vulnerable and that to me could potentially be a worry. Against Villa and Munich it looked like both second halves could have been played forever and we still wouldn’t have scored.

Of course the flip side of that is that when you look at our record, we score more goals in the second half than the first, so perhaps there are some solace in those numbers we can take. But I just worry that this gruelling season is starting to show patterns and I do not like the patterns they are showing. Hopefully I’m wrong.

Wolves’ home form is patchy; they don’t tend to draw games, they tend to win or lose having won seven and drawn five this season on their own patch. They don’t create many chances at home either, having the third worse xG on their own turf, level with Palace. They’re also in the lower reaches of the league on number of goals scored, with 46 this season, which puts them 15th in the League, fairing a little better defensively with 51 goals scored, which has them in at ninth. So what I infer from that is that at home they don’t score loads (they also don’t take loads of shots – they’ve recorded the fourth fewest number of shots attempted in the league this season), they concede a middling amount, so we should get chances, but it won’t be raining shots on their goal I suspect. Nor it will ours.

Which makes me think this might be a cagey game. We will be mindful of two defeats in a week, they will be mindful of us, so I am thinking this might be one of those tight affairs that will make us all hella nervous. Not what you’d be wanting to read, I’m sure, but that’s what the numbers suggest.

They also suggest that it won’t be a long ball game, but it might be played in Wolves’ defensive third. They have the second highest number of tackles in their own half this season and they seem to take most of their touches in the defensive third of the pitch. That tells me that Gary O’Neill wants them to keep the ball and not launch it, they play possession from deep, then they also try to take on players whilst dribbling with the ball (they have the second highest number of take on dribbles in the league). The absence of Neto in that regard is therefore a blow to them and something that we can all be a little bit more pleased about. They will still have Cunha who likes a dribble, as does Semedo, so we’ll need to be mindful of that too. Last week Hwang was back in training so we might have to contend with him and he’s bagged a few goals against us in recent year’s, so there’s food for thought there.

It’ll be a tough one, I would be lying if I told you I was confident, but there is simply no margin for error this weekend. Or any weekend between now and the end of the season. So let’s hope the lads have it in them to go up to the Black Country and get a result.

Back tomorrow with some thoughts post-Arteta’s presser.

Have a good one.