Football Previews

Arsenal vs Wolves predicted XIs: Team news as Smith Rowe gives Arteta selection headache

By Harry Edwards

Published: 17:31, 23 February 2022

Arsenal will be looking to stay in control of their Champions League hopes when they host Wolves on Thursday at 7:45pm (UK time).

Mikel Arteta’s men are currently sixth, four points behind fourth-placed Manchester United in the hunt for Champions League football but the fixture list is in their favour. The Gunners currently have three games in hand over the Red Devils, the first of which is this clash against Wolves.

But Wolves also have the top four in their sights, just two points behind Arsenal with two games in hand on Man Utd – so know a win here could really boost their hopes of reaching the Champions League.

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Arsenal team news vs Wolves: Smith Rowe numbers “not a coincidence”

  • Ins: Gabriel Martinelli, Takehiro Tomiyasu
  • Outs: None
  • Doubts: None

Arsenal actually have a fully-fit squad from which to choose on Thursday with Gabriel Martinelli back from suspension and no injuries. The Brazilian was sent off in this reverse fixture, a 1-0 win for Arsenal at Molineux, for two yellow cards in a matter of seconds – a decision that did not go down well with Gunners fans. But the question is, will Martinelli start? In his absence against Brentford, Emile Smith Rowe started and continued his excellent season, so Arteta might be tempted to stick with the Englishman.

There have been reports of Smith Rowe missing training on Wednesday but it was not mentioned by Mikel Arteta, who did praise the 21-year-old for his improvements this season.

“The numbers should be looking something like this and that’s not a coincidence,” he told reporters.

“He’s practising every day, he is working, he has willingness to do it because he knows he has the qualities and the capacity to do it. That’s what we have to demand from players whether they are 19 or 20 or 35.

“I think it’s [down to] a combination of everything. It’s in his nature, he needs to feel that confidence and that trust around the coaching staff that we are the right people to guide him and to take him to the next level.

“He needs his team-mates, which are big contributors to what he can do on the pitch. He needs to feel love, he needs to have the right environment around him, his family, girlfriend or whatever next to him, and when that happens, he has got a good chance.”

Smith Rowe is Arsenal’s top scorer in the Premier League this season, scoring nine goals and has added two further assists, with only Bukayo Saka (seven goals, four assists) matching him for goal involvements at the Gunners.

Predicted Arsenal XI vs Wolves:

  • Ramsdale; Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Xhaka, Partey; Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Lacazette. (4-2-3-1)

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Wolves team news vs Arsenal: Willy Boly only absentee for Lage

  • Ins: Rayan Ait Nouri
  • Outs: None
  • Doubts: Willy Boly

Rayan Ait Nouri had to come off with a knock against Leicester at the weekend but Bruno Lage has confirmed he is available for selection – though he may not be risked from the start with Wolves boasting other options. Willy Boly has returned to training but again may not be risked, especially with Wolves’ current back three in excellent form.

Pedro Neto is also not expected to start having made his long-awaited return from injury at the weekend.

Predicted Wolves XI vs Arsenal:

  • Sa; Kilman, Saiss, Coady; Semedo, Dendoncker, Moutinho, Neves, Marcal; Podence, Jimenez. (3-5-2)
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