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Arsenal face Wolves after Tube strike delay

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admits that a Christmas programme which features games against struggling Wolves, QPR and Fulham could define the club's Premier League season

AFP , Tuesday 27 Dec 2011
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (Photo: AP)

Arsenal—who face Wolves on Wednesday after a strike on London's underground train service saw the game postponed from the previous day—are just two points ahead of sixth-place Liverpool but only one behind fourth-place Chelsea.

"We know we have an opportunity to gain a better position on the table. It's down to us to do our job," Wenger said.

"In the Premier League the Christmas period is vital to get your points.

"We have responded well to our defeat at Man City with a win at Aston Villa, so now it's down to us to do the job at home and get the points against Wolves."

Meanwhile, Wenger believes his lack of cover at left-back is worrying—but he is yet to make any enquiry about a short-term replacement.

Wenger was left without a recognised left-back after Kieran Gibbs had surgery on his groin on Thursday.

Gibbs is expected to be out of action for a month and he joins fellow defender Sandro on the sidelines.

Wenger is currently making do with centre-half Thomas Vermaelen at left-back and he admitted he may have to enter the transfer market in the beginning of January.

Wayne Bridge, who has played one match for Manchester city this season, has been mooted as a potential loan target for Arsenal.

"It can only be a short-term solution for us because we have bought Santos, we have Gibbs, we have Vermaelen who can play there, so we do not need a long-term solution," said Wenger.

"Long term, I am sticking to Santos and Gibbs, I love both of them because they have a quality I like, which is to attack. I haven't made any enquiry yet (for Bridge), so for the moment not him or anyone else."

Defender Johan Djourou is still a doubt for the Wolves game, but apart from long-term absentees Gibbs, Santos and Jack Wilshere, Arsenal have no injury issues.

On Wolves, Wenger added: "They have the Mick McCarthy spirit and attitude, they never give up."

"They play a very positive game so we know what to expect. They fight to stay in the league and you know it is always an intense game."

Wolves midfielder Karl Henry has branded their position in the table "not acceptable" as they prepare to head to the Emirates Stadium.

McCarthy's team begin the festive period in 17th, a single point clear of the bottom three following 10 defeats in their last 14 games.

However, they could slip into the relegation zone by the time they play on 27 December if results go against them on Boxing Day.

Henry said: "Have Wolves had under-achieved this season? One hundred per cent. I don’t think anyone is in disagreement about that.

"We know it’s not acceptable where we are in the league. If you had asked us where we wanted to be at the start of the season, it certainly wouldn’t be in or just above the relegation zone.

"We expected more points than we’ve got and it makes it hard every game you go into now. Yes, we need more points."

But manager McCarthy insists last year's win at Liverpool during the Christmas period proves they should not be written off against the Gunners.

"We’re always planning three or four games down the line and I went to watch them against Manchester City," said the Wolves boss.

"I don’t know if that’s given me information or made me a bit more fearful of going to Arsenal, because they were awesome against City."

Wolves will be without midfielder Jamie O’Hara, who has been ruled out for up to six weeks after surgery on a double hernia.

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