Pre-Match Report

Preview: Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers

Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers

The curtain comes down on an incredible campaign when we host Wolverhampton Wanderers at Emirates Stadium on Sunday, and while second place is secured, there are a couple of statistical achievements we could still claim as we aim to finish with a flourish.

A 26th victory of the campaign will see us equal our highest-ever tally in the Premier League, also achieved in 2001/02 and 2003/04, while three points would see us hit 84 which would be the third-highest total in our history.

The omens are good seeing as we’ve won all of our last 13 final-day home matches stretching back to 1993, while Wolves head into this encounter on the back of a three-match losing streak on their travels.

Lopetegui turns things around

Julen Lopetegui

The arrival of Julen Lopetegui transformed Wolves’ season, who sat rock bottom of the table on Christmas Day before the Spaniard took charge of his first game the following day.

A poor start to the season saw Bruno Lage relieved of his duties in October, having only won once in the opening eight league games. After Steve Davis filled in as caretaker, the former Sevilla boss oversaw a win against Everton on Boxing Day and would record three-point hauls in four of his first seven games to pull them out of the drop zone.

Four victories from their last eight saw them comfortably secure safety, despite being the lowest-scoring side in the league with 31 goals and winning just twice on their travels, with the last coming against Southampton in February.

What the managers say

Mikel Arteta in training

Arteta: "Now it’s about finishing the season in style, providing a great performance and getting a victory in front of our people. We want to show our gratitude and receive the incredible energy that they have given us throughout the season, and start to build for the next season.

"We have to wrap it up in the best possible way. It’s been some journey, full of emotions, and really looking forward [to something] that in the end we haven’t achieved. But I think looking at it with a bit of perspective, there are a lot of things - not only on the field - that have happened at the club that deserves a lot of credit from a lot of people." - read every word from Mikel's pre-match press conference

Lopetegui: "On Sunday we have an important match because it is the last match of the season against maybe the best team with Manchester City in the Premier League.

“They have been very close to winning the league. Of course, they are going to want to make a good match in front of their fans so we have to go there ready. It is the last match but we have to be ready to compete with them.”

Team news

Bukayo Saka and Leonardo Trossard

Mikel Arteta is unsure whether Bukayo Saka or Leandro Trossard will be able to feature as the pair have slight issues, while Reiss Nelson missed the game against Nottingham Forest last weekend through illness and it remains to be seen if he has fully recovered.

William Saliba has lost his battle to return before the end of the season due to the back issue that has kept him out for the past six weeks, meaning he joins Gabriel Martinelli, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Mohamed Elneny and Takehiro Tomiyasu on the sidelines - hear from Mikel about their injury timelines.

Meanwhile, Lopetegui has virtually a fully-fit squad to choose from, with only long-term casualties Sasa Kalajdzic, who suffered an ACL injury on his debut in September, and Chiquinho unavailable.

Talking tactics

Daniel Bentley of Wolves

Michael Cox, writing in the official matchday programme: Over the past couple of months, Lopetegui has almost exclusively played a 4-4-2 system, and arguably no other Premier League side is currently so wedded to that formation.

A recent change in goal saw Jose Sa replaced by our former academy product Daniel Bentley, who made his Premier League debut aged 29 a fortnight ago. In front of him, Max Kilman or Nathan Collins partner veteran Craig Dawson, Nelson Semedo offers an attacking threat down the right, while left-sided Toti is more of a converted centre-back.  

The recent midfield combination has been excellent passer Ruben Neves alongside the all-action Mario Lemina, although Brazilian holding player Joao Gomes has also been used at times. On the right, Matheus Nunes offers plenty of running, while the alternative is the ultra-speedy Adama Traore. The left-sided options, Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence, generally drift inside more.

As well as pushing his wingers further forward, Lopetegui isn’t short of options for the two centre-forward roles, with more orthodox forwards Diego Costa, Matheus Cunha, Raul Jimenez and Hee-Chan Hwang all being tried, highlighting that Wolves haven’t quite found the right combination up top.

Facts and stats

Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White

We have won our their last three Premier League games against Wolves, having beaten them in just two of their previous eight.

We have tasted success in our final league game in each of the last 11 seasons and are unbeaten in our last 17 on the closing day. We have also won our last 13 final-day matches when finishing the season at home, since losing 3-1 to Tottenham in 1992/93.

We have won our final match of the season more often than any other Premier League side (21), and have the highest win rate on the final day (70 per cent).

Wolves have lost their final league match in each of the last five seasons, and in seven of their eight previous Premier League campaigns.

Lopetegui's team are winless in their last seven away games, losing the last three by an aggregate score of 10-1. They've not lost four in a row on the road in the top-flight since a run of six in 2011.

Aaron Ramsdale, Gabriel, Ben White and Bukayo Saka have played in all 37 of our Premier League games so far this season. The last time we had as many as four players play every league game in a campaign was in 1990/91 (David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn, Steve Bould).

Match officials

Andre Marriner

It's taken all season, but Andre Marriner will be the man in the middle for one of our games this campaign, having also overseen our 5-1 win against Everton on the final day of 2021/22. We have won 27 of the 48 games he has officiated over the years, stretching all the way back to the 2007/08 season.

He has taken charge of 12 Premier League fixtures in 2022/23, dishing out 46 yellow cards and two reds, as well as awarding four penalties. 

  • Referee: Andre Marriner
  • Assistant Referee 1: Simon Long
  • Assistant Referee 2: Scott Ledger
  • Fourth Official: James Linington
  • VAR: Tony Harrington
  • Assistant VAR: Stuart Burt

Recent visits from Wolves

Last season’s equivalent encounter saw us claim a dramatic victory against the Old Gold. Hee-Chan Hwang gave the visitors a 10th-minute lead, but Nicolas Pepe came off the bench to equalise with eight minutes remaining, and in stoppage-time Alexandre Lacazette’s cross-shot went in off Jose Sa to hand us a big three points.

That was our first win against Wolves on home soil in five meetings, stretching back to 2011. The season before saw them claim their first win on our patch since 1979 when goals from Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence came either side of a Gabriel strike.

The previous three encounters at Emirates Stadium all ended 1-1, while two goals from Robin van Persie brought us a 2-0 success back in February 2011.

Remember some classic encounters against Wolves, including our youngest-ever scorer netting and a last-gasp Nicklas Bendtner winner. 

Breakdown Live

Breakdown Live

Tune in an hour before kick-off for the best coverage of the game, when Nick Bright and Adrian Clarke will be live from Emirates Stadium with a star-studded guest list!

TV and radio presenter Roman Kemp, boxers Anthony Yarde and John Ryder plus NBA basketball player Josh Richardson will all drop by to discuss their thoughts on the season, and we’ll look back on our favourite moments on the show from the past 10 months.

Then from 4.30pm, commentary comes from Dan Roebuck and Jeremie Aliadiere who will take you through all the on-field action, as we aim for a winning conclusion to the campaign. Also, don’t go anywhere at full-time as we’ll also show full coverage of the players’ lap of appreciation!

Further reading

Martin Odegaard in training

Martin Odegaard in training

Martin Odegaard evaluates our recent form, the season as a whole and his summer plans in his final captain's notes of the campaign

Mikel Arteta has recorded a message for our supporters, thanking them for their efforts during the past 10 months

Take a look at the best images from our final training session of the season

Don't forget to vote for our men's Player of the Season, and take a look back at the award's illustrious roll of honour

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Fixtures & Results

Premier League
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