This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Arsenal will face Wolves on Saturday in the Premier League as they look to bounce back from their penalty shoot-out loss against Liverpool in the League Cup. Kieran Tierney and Adama Traore could be the two players to have the biggest impact on the final result.
It has been a difficult time for the Gunners in recent weeks. Without a win in their last three Premier League fixtures, and rumours of dressing room unrest, Unai Emery has his work cut out to galvanise his side for this clash.
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Wolves, meanwhile, have had a mixed start to the campaign. They have only lost two matches in the league, but they have picked up six draws as well, with them not winning until the seventh game of the term.
Given the form of both teams, they will be feeling they can pick up three points here. The battle between Adama Traore and Kieran Tierney could be vital in regards to the final outcome.
Having started against Crystal Palace before playing just seven minutes from the bench against the Reds in midweek, he should be in the first XI versus Nuno Espirito Santo and co.
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Traore, too, is almost guaranteed to start as well.
Generally in a 3-5-2 formation, the former Barcelona man has started on the right of the midfield in the last three league matches, playing as a winger-cum-wing-back for the Portuguese boss. His performance against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, scoring both in a 2-0 victory, has been his stand-out display of the campaign.
This is a regular occurrence throughout the season so far, with 43% of their attacks coming down the right compared to just 35% down the left. No side has played down that side of the pitch more in the league so far.
That is to take advantage of Traore’s prominent dribbling skills. Against Pep Guardiola’s side, he beat his man three times, with his overall average for the campaign being 3.1. Only four players in the division have done so on more occasions than the 23-year-old.
If Arsenal are to get a positive result from the match, 12-time Scotland international Tierney will need to be at the top of his game, and cannot afford to go too far forward.
If he does so, £13.5m-valued Traore, will be licking his lips at the prospect of getting in behind him down that flank.
Having started just one game for Arsenal in the league, we do not know what to make of his defensive ability in England, but considering he was dribbled past just 0.2 times per match in the Europa League last term with the Bhoys, we can expect that he will not be scared to face the former Spain U21 international.
This will be an exciting battle between two evenly-matched players. Whoever prevails will surely help their side get the result they are looking for.