Just over a month ago we got mugged by the Leicester Fox, hitting us on the break and taking all three points after soaking up our (mostly toothless) pressure.
Tonight we entertain the Wolf, and his game plan is going to be very similar: defend deep and pounce when we are over-exposed.
Leicester did it with Jamie Vardy. Wolverhampton Wanderers will be hoping to pull the same trick with Raul Jimenez, who is another dangerous striker.
What’s the old saying, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me? Well, will be fooled twice? Will we be cursing the sucker punch again come the final whistle this evening?
Given our recent league form, Wolves will be feeling pretty confident about keeping a clean sheet.
But if El Patron can just release the handbrake even a little, I think they could be in for a spanking. In fact, I am going to make the bold prediction that we will win 4-1.
Yes, I know, the idea of us bulging the onion bag four times in 90 minutes when we haven’t managed it once from open play in nine hours of EPL action does seem a bit bonkers. But when a damn breaks, it breaks big. And our scoring drought is due to end with a flash flood of goals. Or even a flood of flash goals, which will do just as well.
I believe this will happen even though we are likely going to be depleted in terms of available players.
Partey, Saka and Willian are all doubtful through injury and Pepe is suspended. Kolasinac and Elneny are both in the Plague House (although asymptomatic) having been in contact with someone with Covid.
However, this gives El Patron an opportunity to change a few things and to try and inject into the Premier League side some of the positivity we have seen in the Europa League team. One way of doing that would be to include some of the players who have been doing so well in Europe.
It’s way past time that our goal scoring problem was addressed and we know that Arteta will have been devoting every waking minute (and probably some dreaming minutes too) to figuring out how to do it.
I’m going to assume that the ‘doubtful’ players will not be in the starting eleven (although hopefully one or more may be on the bench) and predict the following line-up:
Bellerin – Holding – Gabriel – Tierney
Willock – Xhaka – Ceballos
Nelson – Nketiah – Aubameyang
I would like to see a starting role for Ainsley Maitland-Niles, but I can’t see Arteta being that cavalier. He will probably stick with Xhaka and Ceballos.
Ceballos is a strange player. In some games he is the best player on the pitch; in most games he works very hard and is, well, average. If he could get more consistent he could become one of the first names on the team sheet: he certainly has the potential. Maybe tonight?
Right, here’s hoping we send the wolfpack scurrying back to the Midlands with their tails between their legs.