Wolves v Arsenal: Go low on goal count at Molineux

Molineux isn't the place for watching the net bulge and Arsenal have stopped scoring so going short of goals makes sense on Thursday night, says Dave Tindall...

Wolves not easy to assess

What do we make of Wolves then?

They started the season with a hat-trick of defeats, suggesting new boss Bruno Lage was in for a tough, tough first campaign in the Premier League. And yet they go into this latest round of games sat eighth in the table after accumulating 34 points in their subsequent 18 games. That's an impressive rate.

Wolves have kicked off 2022 with a hat-trick of victories: a 1-0 triumph at Old Trafford, a 3-1 home win over Southampton and a 2-1 success at Brentford. All seems to be going extremely well then.

And yet, just when we think they could go on an FA Cup run too, they lose 1-0 at home to Norwich in the fourth round. Hmmm. Just how good are they?

What we do know for sure is that Wolves' games don't involve many goals. Their Molineux record of scored eight, conceded eight is exactly the same as Burnley's at Turf Moor. What's more, Wolves have needed two more games to accumulate such paltry numbers.

Overall, in nine of their last 12 games in all competitions, the goal count has failed to rise over one. Perhaps we just keep it simple here and play Under 2.5 goals even though it's very short at 1.62.

Goals have dried up for Gunners

If Wolves fans are craving more goals, spare a thought for Arsenal supporters. They haven't seen their team score since Bukayo Sako gave them the lead against Manchester City five matches ago.

That game was played on New Year's Day and, since then, they've fired a pair of blanks in the Carabao Cup semi-final against Liverpool (the Gunners lost 2-0 on aggregate), lost 1-0 at Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup and drawn 0-0 at home against Burnley.

Crashing out of both domestic cup competitions and being held to a goalless draw at home by the Premier League's bottom club has rather put a question mark over the idea that Arsenal are progressing nicely under Mikel Arteta.

The transfer window was a bit of a wake-up call too. No signings and six players, albeit mostly squad players, going out.

That included the loan of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Barcelona. Clearly he didn't see eye to eye with Arteta but all the outgoings do seem to leave Arsenal short of numbers if they're to kick on and grab a top-four spot.

It's certainly in range as they're sixth and have games in hand over fourth-placed Manchester United and fifth-placed West Ham. But it certainly feels as if the optimism has died down a notch or two.

Arsenal clear favourites for victory

Despite Arsenal having just two more points than Wolves and the game being played at Molineux, the Gunners are clear favourites to return south with all three points.

Arsenal are 2.28 to take victory, with Wolves 3.7 and The Draw 3.35.

Looking at home and away form, Wolves have won four, drawn two and lost four at home while Arsenal have won four, drawn one and lost five away. In other words, their top eight positions are due to Arsenal being strong at home and Wolves picking up plenty of wins on the road.

Perhaps the draw is the default position but Wolves don't do many of those at home while stalemates are rare in Arsenal away games.

Numbers support going Under 1.5

Perhaps influenced by watching one Portuguese manager, Carlos Queiroz, try and 'nil-nil' Egypt to Africa Cup of Nations glory (it nearly worked!), I'll try and cash in on another cautious Portuguese boss setting up not to concede many goals.

Under 2.5, as mentioned, is short but there's certainly scope to play Under 1.5 at 2.92.

If the price doesn't get you out of your seat, a reminder that it has a 75% strike-rate in Wolves' 12 games since November 20. It's also landed in three of Arsenal's last four outings.

For those wanting to take it to the extreme and back a goalless draw, Under 0.5 is 8.8. Arsenal have two of those in their last three matches while it's paid out three times in the last 11 for Wolves.

Saka best scorer option

It's hard to put anything up in this market if cheering on a lack of goals.

But Bukayo Saka could be worth a look at 5.7. The Arsenal wideman had netted four in three games before he and the Gunners stopped scoring for four games. Three of those came on the road.

If put into the Bet Builder, Saka to score in a 1-0 Arsenal win pays 40.

Opta stat

Premier League matches involving Wolves have seen the fewest shots of any side so far this season (462); Wolves had 10+ shots in their first five matches this season (82 in total, 16.4 per game) but have only reached double figures for shots in four of their 16 games since, averaging exactly half their shots per game ratio of those first five games (131 in total, 8.2 per game).

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