Shock horror! Thomas Vermaelen has suffered a setback, and broken down in training. I couldn't be less surprised. Apparently The Verminator is now going to see a specialist again. I said weeks ago that Vermaelen had a serious injury, and that we would have to get used to life without him. If we see him play before Christmas it will be some sort of a miracle. We'd been told that Vermaelen was nearing a return, but our hopes have been dashed once again. Achilles injuries are notoriously bad in terms of recovery time, and this appears to be the case for our Belgian number 5. We need him back, but we're not getting him back.
Arsenal appealed against Laurent Koscielny's sending-off on Sunday, but I still can't see why. The FA were never going to overturn the decision, especially for an Arsenal player. The only surprise is that they didn't extend his suspension for making a frivolous appeal. I have to say I won't mind him being missing for a couple of games. Koscielny has had one or two good performances - Spurs and Newcastle in the Carling Cup - but has mostly looked out of his depth physically. The trouble is that the other option at centre-back, Johan Djourou, has played only one decent game all season, albeit his last one at Donetsk. Having said that, Djourou is better equipped for the physical battle, and that is exactly what we'll get tomorrow night. Kevin Doyle is a fine centre-forward, strong and powerful, and he will be another handful for the Arsenal defence to have to deal with. Having failed to handle Drogba and Andy Carroll I do not hold out much hope (though Kevin Davies was kept quiet when Bolton came to visit some weeks back).
I will be amazed if at least one change is not made to the starting line-up tomorrow night. Samir Nasri was taken off early on Sunday, despite being comfortably Arsenal's best player, but there is no indication that he was injured. Cesc Fabregas was awful on Sunday, and was limping about for a part of the first-half. We know Fabregas is still carrying a problem, but will Wenger leave him out when we desperately need to win? I fully expect Arshavin to come back in to the team, most probably at the expense of Walcott, who was very disappointing on Sunday.
Robin Van Persie made an appearance on Sunday, but Wenger has admitted he wasn't ready (so don't bring him on with 40 minutes to go then you fool). I can't see Bendtner getting a start ahead of Chamakh tomorrow night, and I would be extremely disappointed if he did so.
Wolves are a physical team. Karl Henry is more than physical - he's a dirty scumbag of a footballer. You can be sure that he will be out to kick Fabregas tomorrow night, and there may well be a move by Wolves to try and wind-up Jack Wilshere. They repeatedly kicked Joey Barton a few weeks ago to try and provoke a reaction, and I wouldn't put it past them to try the same tactics on our young genius. The referee tomorrow night is Mark Halsey. This is the first time we've encountered Mr Halsey since his recovery from cancer (his previous Arsenal game was the opening day stuffing of Everton last season) and it's wonderful to see someone get over such a serious illness. We have to hope that his refereeing is strong, and that he is prepared to deal with Wolves in the appropriate manner, if and when they overstep the mark.
I think the Arsenal team might look a bit like this:
Fabianski - Sagna, Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy - Song, Wilshere, Fabregas - Arshavin, Chamakh, Nasri.
It's my wife's birthday tomorrow, and the game is not live on TV, so I'll be relying on Match of the Day for highlights. Not ideal, but I'll do my best with a review piece at some time on Thursday (I might be able to catch a full re-run on Arsenal TV Online).