Club Focus – Wolverhampton – Arsenal to test Wolverhampton

Wolverhampton boss Mick McCarthy believes that although his side face a tough test at the Emirates this weekend they can act as pests in an attempt to take a shot at the Gunners.

After a good March, which see the men in gold climb from 17th to 14th place in the Premier League they will want to continue their good form and maintain the gap between them and the drop zone. Wolves will have to be on the top of their game to get anything in Arsenal’s own back yard, even if the home side are weakened by several injuries to the likes of Francesc Fabregas and Andrey Arshavin. Arsene Wenger’s side looked determined battling back from 2-0 against Barcelona and will surely be as determined, if not more, to cling to their Premier League title aspirations.

Although a positive result for Wolves is highly unlikely, it could be an amazing hat-trick against London clubs, as the Wanderers have already beaten both West Ham and Spurs away from home this season. McCarthy will be wary of Wenger’s brand of free-flowing football, which can be a nightmare to defend against. The former Republic of Ireland manager has no plans of going toe-to-toe against a superior attacking force and he suggests that Wolves will take a more thoughtful approach and try to remain a solid defensive unit throughout the game. He said:“If we want to take Arsenal on purely at football, we’ll get beat because they’re better than us. So we are going to have to defend and be solid, but within that you have to be sensible with the ball, you have got to keep it and you have got to manage the game, if you can.” McCarthy’s men will be heavy underdogs on Saturday and although he admits that it is a game as tough as they come, he has no plans for lying down and taking a beating from Arsenal. The Wolves boss said: “Can we win there? I haven’t even given it any thought yet. We will get organised and we will do our best. If both teams play as well as they can, we’ll have to be pretty fortunate to come away with something.”

He believes that if Hull could go to the Emirates last season then there is no reason why his side cannot try to spring a surprise, with almost nothing to lose as it is a game in which they are expected to be sent home empty handed. “Is it likely? Are all the bets going to be on them (Arsenal)? Of course they are. Hull went there last year and won, so you just don’t know. I just never discount myself from anything to be honest” said McCarthy.

The west midlands side may take increased optimism after seeing Arsenal draw at St Andrews against Birmingham last week, the club that were promoted along with Wolves from the Championship last season. Wolverhampton have lost their last nine meetings in away games against Arsenal and have not beaten them since 1979, in the days of Kenny Hibbert and Andy Gray. They can however take comfort from the fact that fellow strugglers Hull, West Ham and Wigan also face tough tests away from home and Burnley are hosting a Man City side, who have a red hot Carlos Tevez amongst their ranks. There has been a lot of attention surrounding Michael Mancienne, who has been performing well of late. The starlet is currently is on-loan from Chelsea and Wolves have expressed their wish to keep the England-under-21 international on their playing staff beyond this season. Mancienne has featured a lot for Wolverhampton this season appearing in 25 out of 30 league games and gaining valuable experience, which will have pleased his parent club as well as McCarthy, who admires the youngster.

Mancienne has shown great versatility this season and he has revealed that he is relishing the club’s fight to stay in the Premier League playing in a less familiar defensive midfield position. “I have played in this position before but I am learning about it more and more every time I play it,” says the 22-year-old. “Being involved in this sort of survival battle is really good experience for me.”

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