Feature

#ARSWOL: Five things to look out for

After back-to-back draws and a penalty shootout defeat, we will be desperate to get back to winning ways against Wolves on Saturday.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side travel to Emirates Stadium looking to emulate their performance from last season where Ivan Cavaleiro’s strike gained the visitors a valuable point. 

Ahead of the match at 3pm (UK time), we’ve picked out five things to watch out for- scroll down to see what they are. 

AUBA'S 50

Our top scorer remains one goal shy of his half century, he has been stuck on 49 since the draw at Old Trafford last month, and October was the first month he didn't score in since August 2018.

Having scored seven goals in his first seven Premier League games this season, he's now failed to score in his last three in the competition. He's not gone four consecutive league games without registering since joining in January 2018.

Yet despite this, he is still on track to become the sixth fastest player to score 50 goals for the club, and the 51st player to do so overall. He has made 77 appearances for us in all competitions.

Last season's Golden Boot winner has scored seven in the Premier League so far this season, as well as one in the Europa League, to add to the 31 he netted last term and the 10 he scored during his debut campaign.

He has scored 15 times in his last 18 starts at home.


SATURDAY FEELING

We haven’t lost at home at 3pm on a Saturday since the opening day of the 2013/14 season, winning 20 and drawing the other two of the 22 fixtures since then.

However it's become increasingly rare for us to play at the traditional weekend time since we've been in the Europa League, and this is our first Saturday 3pm fixture - home or away - all season.

Our last one was back in February - a 2-1 home win at Huddersfield – while we also beat the Terriers at home on a Saturday 3pm kick-off in December. They were two of just five Saturday 3pm games for us last term, all of which we won.

The last time we lost one of these such fixtures was November 2015, away to West Brom in the Premier League.


THE FIRST GOAL

Wednesday's incredible game at Anfield was the seventh time we have conceded the first goal from 15 games so far this season, and the fifth time we have hit back to at least draw the game (although we ultimately lost on penalties).

But our record is obviously much better when we score the first goal. That's happened eight times in 2019/20 so far, and we have gone on to win six of them, drawing the other two. Indeed we are unbeaten in the last 16 games when scoring first (winning 13 of them) and purely looking at home games, we haven't lost after going 1-0 up since going down to Bayern Munich in March 2017, winning 46 and drawing the other four of the 50 matches since then.

As for Wolves, no side has conceded the first goal in more Premier League games than them this season (seven), though they’ve come back to draw five of those games.

Joe Willock celebrates his goal at Liverpool

Joe Willock celebrates his goal at Liverpool


SQUAD ROTATION

Unai Emery changed his entire starting XI for the midweek trip to Anfield, but there were enough impressive performances on Wednesday to suggest that the head coach might retain some of the starters against Liverpool for this Premier League fixture.

Mesut Ozil has only played 71 minutes of Premier League action this season, but his early withdrawal on Wednesday could point to further involvement this weekend. "We decided before the game to only play him for that amount of time," Emery explained afterwards. "We have a match on Saturday and we will look at the possibility to use him again."

Sead Kolasinac hobbled off late on, but he is expected to be available this weekend, as the head coach once again as a virtually fully fit squad to choose from. Only Reiss Nelson remains on the treatment table.


WOLVES ATTACKING THREAT

Wolves had a slow start to the season, failing to win any of their first six league games, but they are now unbeaten in five, including an eye-catching 2-0 win away to Manchester City.

Since the start of last season they have also beaten Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester United, and of course us, 3-1 back in April.

Michael Cox of zonalmarking.net explains their strategy in the games against the six teams that finished above them last term.

"3-5-2 seems to be Espirito Santo’s favoured formation against stronger opponents. Jimenez leads the line well, is capable of receiving long balls from defence and holds up play well. His combination play with Jota towards the end of last season was exceptional, with the duo often playing one-twos through the opposition defence without the need for midfield support. Jota was particularly lively against Arsenal last season, and will look to speed in behind the opposition."

Wolves also carry a substantia threat from set pieces, as evidenced by Joao Moutinho's dipping free-kick against us at Molineux last season.

They have scored in all but two of their 21 games across all competitions, though like us they tasted Carabao Cup defeat on Wednesday night - going down 2-1 at Villa Park after changing the entire starting XI