Wolverhampton Wanderers Vs Arsenal: There For The Taking

I realise that I might be in something of a minority here but I feel a bit saddened by Wolves’ imminent relegation. Years ago, the first time I attempted to go to university but got sidetracked by the need to drink and not attend lectures, I did so in Wolverhampton and indeed I lived literally across the street from Molineux.

Now Wolverhampton, it’s safe to say, is a bit of a hole. Nonetheless I thoroughly enjoyed living there, and a long standing ambition of mine was to see Arsenal come to town. I moved there in September 2005, the autumn following Wolves’ last relegation from the Premier League so the only way I was going to get my wish was a kind FA Cup draw. Incredibly, it did indeed come out of the hat, with one major drawback – Arsenal were drawn at home. It must be the only Arsenal match I have ever watched willing us to draw. Naturally we didn’t and we went on our merry way to winning the cup, which saw me overcome my disappointment pretty swiftly.

Years later when Wolves returned to the Premier League I was living just down the road in Birmingham, I sensed my opportunity but failed to secure a ticket for the first Arsenal return to Molineux. The following year I was cruelly denied by a situation at work and then further opportunities were frustrated by my return to Kent, leaving Wolves Vs Arsenal something of an unfulfilled fantasy for me, as it looks set to be for some years to come with Wolves looking set to return to the Championship for a lengthy stay.

Under other circumstances it might be easy to say I wouldn’t grudge Wolves a result today but the fact is we simply must have the points and consequently I would grudge Wolves possession of the ball, never mind the result. The reality for Wolves is that their season has disintegrated into an unredeemable shambles. The mystifying decision to sack Mick McCarthy has cost them very dearly I think, and their fate looks all but sealed. They’re looking at having to win the majority of their remaining six games, a tall order for a team that has won only five games all season in the league.

Nonetheless, they have nothing to lose and they have to give it everything tonight. Rolling over and dying would be an utter disgrace in the circumstances. For our part, we have to make sure it’s a professional job and we come home with the points. Tonight is an opportunity that isn’t likely to repeat itself in the remainder of the season after both Spurs and Chelsea dropped points. If we can win tonight we would establish a five point gap over Spurs and seven point gap over Chelsea and Newcastle. With a game against Wigan and then the huge game with Chelsea to come could have Champions League qualification all but tied up in the next week and a half.

Still, we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves. Heads must remain screwed on and the lessons learned only recently at QPR need to be kept in mind. Mikel Arteta says the team is determined to take the opportunity, saying,

“Third place gives you direct access to the Champions League, it’s really important. It’s been a big fight; we have come all the way through from the back.

“We’ve put in a big effort, we are in a strong position now and we don’t want to waste it. We had a setback at QPR and it says a lot for our spirit that we came straight back.

I said at the time that the QPR defeat felt more like a kick up the arse than a season-stopping disappointment. A reminder that the job wasn’t done. It was a costly lesson because we could be away right now if not for that defeat, so let’s make it sure it was worth it.

Team news-wise it looks like Djourou gets a game because of the two-game suspension of Laurent Koscielny following his tenth booking of the season, and it seems Kieran Gibbs won’t be risked after a groin strain in the City game, meaning Andre Santos should get a start for the first time in months. On paper we should still have plenty to trouble Wolves, especially with Robin Van Persie overdue a goal. As we know though, the game is not played on paper.

Right then, that’ll be all for today. Have a good one, enjoy the game and I’ll return soon.

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  • shrek2be  On 11/04/2012 at 9:19 am

    The FA are cunts

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