In midweek, the two sides had contrasting fortunes in the EFL Cup, with the hosts defeating Leeds United and the Gunners losing to Brighton & Hove Albion.
- To the delight of Arsenal fans who remember Diego Costa from his time at Chelsea, the striker will serve the third and final game of his suspension this weekend, but Nelson Semedo is back from his own suspension after receiving a red card in the loss to Brighton – a timely return after Jonny Otto went off injured on Wednesday.
- The hosts’ injury list remains lengthy, with Sasa Kalajdzic, Chiquinho, Pedro Neto, and Raul Jimenez all in the treatment room, but Matheus Nunes should be able to shake off a shoulder injury in time to play here. Tote Gomes returned in midweek, but Max Kilman and Nathan Collins’ spots are not in jeopardy.
- If Nunes is able to return, Davis will be spoiled for choice in midfield, but Boubacar Traore will almost certainly return, as Jose Sa prepares to replace Matija Sarkic in goal.
- In comparison, Arsenal’s infirmary is devoid of all but Takehiro Tomiyasu and Emile Smith Rowe, the former of whom is still set to represent Japan at the World Cup despite a minor muscular problem.
- Smith Rowe is not expected to return to training for several weeks, but Arteta has settled on a starting XI and will revert to that intimidating lineup after making as many as ten changes in midweek – only French World Cup team member William Saliba retained his spot.
- Gabriel Jesus, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, and Gabriel Martinelli will return to the attacking third, but Jesus and Saliba are on a tightrope and will miss the Boxing Day match against West Ham United if they are booked here.
Wolverhampton: Nunes, Neves, B. Traore; A. Traore, Guedes, Podence; Sa; Semedo, Collins, Kilman, Bueno; Nunes, Neves, B. Traore; A. Traore, Guedes, Podence
Arsenal: Xhaka, Partey; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Jesus; Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko;
Wolves will be well aware of the risks of taking Arsenal’s midweek result at face value, with the Gunners’ second-string XI being nowhere near as dominant as their first team this season, and a visiting side that easily defeated Chelsea should have no trouble returning to winning ways here.
The hosts’ attacking play is gradually improving, but facing the league’s joint-best defense with a slew of rested big names can only end one way, as Arteta’s side prepares to celebrate Christmas at the top of the table.
Our prediction is Wolves 0-2 Arsenal.