Liverpool blew Everton away in the Merseyside derby and Jose Mourinho suffered his first loss as Tottenham head coach on his return to Manchester United.

Jurgen Klopp's Premier League leaders have an eight-point cushion at the top after a 5-2 win at Anfield on Wednesday that increases the pressure on the Toffees' beleaguered boss Marco Silva.

Leicester remain the Reds' nearest challengers after Brendan Rodgers' side saw off his old club Watford 2-0 thanks to second-half goals from Jamie Vardy and James Maddison.

Chelsea, Southampton and Wolves completed a clean sweep of home wins with victories over Aston Villa, Norwich City and West Ham respectively.

 

Divock the derby hero again

Divock Origi and Sadio Mane were the stars for Liverpool as their 5-2 victory in the Merseyside derby left stricken Silva surely on the verge of losing his job.

A remarkable first half saw six goals – Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri helping the Reds race ahead, though Michael Keane pulled Everton back into contention.

Another for Origi – his fifth Merseyside derby strike – restored Liverpool's two-goal advantage with Mane slotting home their fourth before Richarlison reduced the deficit again.

That effort failed to lift Everton and Georginio Wijnaldum delivered a likely final blow to Silva as counterpart Klopp claimed his 100th Premier League win.

Unhappy return for Mourinho

Spurs had won three games out of three under Mourinho but fell to a 2-1 loss away to Manchester United with Marcus Rashford scoring both goals for the Red Devils.

Rashford scored either side of a superb individual effort from Dele Alli to take his Premier League tally to nine for the season, with Spurs well off the pace.

United move into the top six, leapfrogging Mourinho's men, thanks to a much-needed victory that ends their run of three matches without a win in all competitions.

Abraham nets again for Blues

Tammy Abraham returned from injury to help sink former club Aston Villa as Chelsea got back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory on John Terry's return to Stamford Bridge.

Back from a hip problem, Abraham opened the scoring with a first-half header and provided a chested assist that allowed Mason Mount to volley a superb winner after Trezeguet's fortuitous equaliser.

Willian excelled throughout on the right flank and Chelsea, who had lost their past two league games to Manchester City and West Ham, should have won by more against opponents who had Blues legend Terry on the bench as assistant manager.

Penalty drama for Leicester

A 2-0 home win against managerless Watford was routine for Leicester, but striker Vardy was booked for diving when he seemed to be clearly fouled, despite the incident being checked by the VAR.

Vardy later converted from the spot, scoring for the seventh straight league game, and Leicester's winning streak also stretched to seven matches in the league after Maddison netted deep into added time.

Elsewhere, Southampton moved out of the bottom three at Everton's expense with Ralph Hasenhuttl's side sealing successive home wins with first-half strikes by Danny Ings and Ryan Bertrand setting up a 2-1 victory over Norwich at St. Mary's.

Wolves are fifth after goals from Leander Dendoncker and Patrick Cutrone downed West Ham 2-0. Nuno Espirito Santo's side are now unbeaten in 10 Premier League matches.

Kelechi Iheanacho benefitted from a huge VAR assist as Leicester City continued to hang on to the coattails of Liverpool on a day when Arsenal started the post-Unai Emery era with a draw.

With Manchester City and Chelsea suffering unlikely setbacks on Saturday, Liverpool took the opportunity to extend their lead to 11 points and it appeared the Foxes were not well placed to cut that gap after falling behind at home to Everton. 

However, a last-gasp technological intervention sparked wild celebrations at the King Power Stadium as Leicester completed a come-from-behind 2-1 triumph.

Also on Sunday, there was more frustration for Manchester United and interim boss Freddie Ljungberg saw Arsenal twice come from behind at Carrow Road.


FOXES GRATEFUL TO VAR

Leicester were in danger at the break after Richarlison headed home to put Everton into a half-time lead, while Ben Chilwell saw a penalty for a trip from Mason Holgate overturned by VAR.

Jamie Vardy's neat strike – his 13th in the league this season – brought Leicester level, though, before drama ensued deep into second-half stoppage time.

Iheanacho latched on to Ricardo Pereira's excellent throughball and rifled his shot past Jordan Pickford, only for the linesman to curtail his knee-sliding celebration.

But a check with the video assistant showed Yerry Mina had played the striker onside to leave Leicester in outright second and pile more pressure on under-fire Toffees boss Marco Silva.


SAME OLD ARSENAL

Emery may have departed Arsenal but it was a familiar story for the Gunners defensively under Ljungberg.

Norwich stole ahead when Kenny McLean was afforded too much space to pick out Teemu Pukki, whose deflected effort beat Bernd Leno after David Luiz had backed off the striker.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang levelled from the penalty spot at the second attempt having been handed a reprieve when his first attempt was saved by Tim Krul, only for VAR to spot an encroachment.

Aubameyang levelled again in the second half but only after more poor defending had seen Todd Cantwell put Norwich in a 2-1 half-time lead. 


RED DEVILS STRUGGLE AT HOME

Manchester United were again off the pace in a 2-2 draw against Aston Villa, who led through Jack Grealish's stunning curling opener.

Marcus Rashford saw a header from Andreas Pereira's whipped cross cannon off the post and hit Tom Heaton on the back before nestling in the goal to bring United level and they led when Victor Lindelof nodded home in the 64th minute.

Just two minutes later, United were caught napping when Matt Targett clipped a second ball in from a cleared corner and Tyrone Mings volleyed past David de Gea.


DOHERTY PAYS TRIBUTE TO AFOBE

Two teams impressing in the top half of the table played out a 1-1 draw at Molineux as Wolves came back against Sheffield United – the visitors leading through Lys Mousset's second-minute goal.

Matt Doherty levelled in the second half and celebrated by kissing and raising his black armband, which was being worn in honour of former Wolves striker Benik Afobe, who announced the tragic loss of his two-year-old daughter Amora on Sunday. 

Freddie Ljungberg's spell as Arsenal interim head coach starts away at Norwich City on Sunday.

If the Swede gets his wish, it will be the humble beginning of a long-term tenure.

The Gunners are reportedly receptive to the idea of keeping him in the dugout, at least until the end of the season.

 

TOP STORY – LJUNGBERG KEEN ON LONG-TERM ARSENAL CHANCE

Could rookie coach Freddie Ljungberg go from hugging the touchline at Highbury to patrolling it permanently at Emirates Stadium?

According to The Guardian, the 42-year-old is determined to prove he should succeed Unai Emery at Arsenal on a full-time basis.

Carlo Ancelotti, Massimiliano Allegri and Mauricio Pochettino are among the many men linked with the role, although club chiefs are reportedly prepared to let Ljungberg stay on for the remainder of the season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying in the Premier League and Wolves will fight "tooth and nail" to keep Arsenal coaching contender Nuno Espirito Santo, says the Daily Mail.

- Inter have been linked with a South American double swoop. Antonio Conte wants more depth and the Serie A side are keen on Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez and promising River Plate defender Lucas Martinez Quarta, reports La Repubblica.

- Edinson Cavani knows a contract extension will not be forthcoming but the striker wants to stay at Paris Saint-Germain until the end of the season, according to Le Parisien.

- West Ham CEO Karen Brady expressed her support of under-fire manager Manuel Pellegrini in The Sun, although the Daily Mail reports he has just two games to save his job.

- Anything less than victory against Hertha Berlin on Saturday will likely spell the end for Lucien Favre at Borussia Dortmund, says Sky Sport Germany.

Nuno Espirito Santo was proud to deliver a night to remember for Wolves fans after a 3-3 draw in Braga secured a spot in the last 32 of the Europa League.

The Premier League side roared back from a goal down to lead 3-1 by the break in Portugal, with Raul Jimenez, Matt Doherty and Adama Traore on target – the latter two strikes coming 81 seconds apart.

But Braga maintained their grip on top spot in Group K courtesy of second-half goals from Paulinho and Fransergio.

The point ensured Wolves' qualification for the last 32 with a game to spare and Nuno was particularly delighted for the sizeable travelling contingent.

"I'm extremely proud – 6,000 fans here is amazing," he said, in quotes reported by Wolves' official website. "It requires a lot of effort from them, flights and travel, on a night like this, that's what makes us proud.

"The journey we started together, since the Championship. If we can achieve more, we will try. It's the same group of players that started, that are trying to grow, our fans are always with us supporting and that's what makes me happy."

Despite his evident satisfaction at extending Wolves' continental campaign into 2020, Nuno noted areas for improvement after a game the visitors really ought to have won.

"The first half was good. We started bad, we conceded a goal and that can happen, but the reaction was very good," he said.

"We pressed well, we stayed organised and achieved good combinations, so naturally we were finishing goals, the way the team reacted in play was good.

"Second half not so good, not so well organised, allowing passes to Braga that unbalances and conceded in situations that we must improve.

"The season has been long and it was another demanding match. We started very early in the season, however the balance so far has been good. The team is improving, the players are responding.

"We need to keep this momentum because in a couple of days we have a key game against Sheffield United and we want to develop and improve.

"We don't have limits, we always keep going and we're going to the next one."

Wolves were left stunned by Braga's second-half revival as both sides sealed progress to the last 32 of the Europa League following a 3-3 draw.

After storming back from a goal down to lead 3-1 at the interval, Wolves somehow let maximum points and top spot in Group K slip from their grasp in a thriller in the rain in Portugal.

The visitors, unchanged from the 2-1 Premier League win over Bournemouth, fell behind after six minutes when Andre Horta's deflected effort found the back of the net in sodden conditions.

But Raul Jimenez – involved in all three of his side's goals – swiftly levelled matters with his 15th of the season before a quick-fire double from Matt Doherty and Adama Traore put Nuno Espirito Santo's men in the ascendancy.

That was far from the end of the story, though, as Paulinho cut the gap and Fransergio grabbed a late equaliser to keep Braga top. Third-placed Slovan Bratislava's 2-1 defeat at Besiktas spelled the end of road for the Slovakians, with their Turkish opponents already out of the running.

Braga won the reverse fixture with Wolves at Molineux courtesy of Ricardo Horta's goal and it was his brother who put them ahead on Thursday, Andre Horta's low strike taking a telling touch off Ruben Neves to send the ball beyond Rui Patricio.

Wolves, sitting fifth in the English top flight, were quick to respond and Jimenez headed home after Jonny's looping cross had left Eduardo flapping at thin air.

Nuno's side came close to forging ahead midway through the first half, but Traore's teasing ball across the six-yard box was just beyond the reach of Diogo Jota.

Undeterred, Wolves continued to push forward and got their reward with two goals in 81 seconds – Doherty leaping to nod in Jimenez's lofted delivery before Traore coolly slotted in the third.

A smart stop from Eduardo spared Braga further punishment as he parried away Jota's header five minutes into the second half.

The hosts lost a tearful Wallace to injury just before the hour mark but were soon celebrating halving the deficit through Paulinho's close-range finish, after excellent work from Wenderson Galeno.

Despite Wolves still appearing to carry the greater threat, they were rocked by Fransergio's 79th-minute header from Nuno Sequeira's assist as the spoils were shared in an unlikely classic.

Nuno Espirito Santo says he will not be distracted over "not real" speculation he could be in line to replace Unai Emery at Arsenal.

Emery is under increasing pressure after a run of six games without a win in all competitions, with reports he is facing the sack.

Nuno, meanwhile, continues to burnish his reputation with Wolves fifth in the Premier League, three places above the Gunners, and on the brink of the Europa League knockout stages.

The Portuguese manager was unwilling to be drawn on the speculation at a news conference on Wednesday.

"[Rumours] are not a distraction," Nuno said.

"You know me. I don't talk about ifs, I don't talk about possibilities, I don't talk about things that are not real.

"I think you know me well enough and you know that I'm not going to answer about that. 

"I will never mention an issue that's not a reality. Mainly because the job has a manager in it. It would be disrespectful."

Asked if he was happy at Wolves, Nuno added: "I think we are doing okay. 

"It requires a lot of work and every day is a chance to improve and this is what we want to do all together."

Wolves and Arsenal are both in Europa League action on Thursday, with Nuno's side away to Braga while the Gunners host Eintracht Frankfurt.

Arsenal have set their sights on Nuno Espirito Santo.

Incumbent head coach Unai Emery is running out of time and the Gunners are reportedly plotting to replace him.

Succession planning could result in a raid on Premier League rivals Wolves.

 

TOP STORY – NUNO THE NUMERO UNO FOR ARSENAL

Impressed with his work in the Midlands, Arsenal chiefs have identified 45-year-old Nuno as their preferred replacement for the under-fire Emery.

The Daily Mail reports Raul Sanllehi, the club's head of football, has a "long-standing relationship" with Nuno's agent Jorge Mendes and claims the former Porto boss is now the leading contender for the job.

Nuno guided Wolves to promotion from the Championship two seasons ago and achieved a top-seven finish last term.

ROUND-UP

- LaLiga rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid are monitoring Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's situation as the striker stalls on an Arsenal contract extension, says The Daily Star.

- Jorge Jesus has emerged as a candidate to replace Marco Silva at Everton. The former Sporting CP coach guided Flamengo to Copa Libertadores glory over the weekend and his name has been put forward at Goodison Park, reports The Telegraph.

- Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich have held fresh talks with Leroy Sane's agent but are unlikely to lodge a transfer bid for the Manchester City winger until the end of the season, according to Goal.

- On-loan Roma defender Chris Smalling's impressive adjustment to Serie A has inspired Juventus to make enquiries to Manchester United, reports Italian broadcaster Radio Radio.

- Zlatan Ibrahimovic's latest transfer hint might not be what it seems. ESPN suggests the Swedish free agent is considering investing in Hammarby, rather than playing for the Allsvenskan side. On Tuesday, Ibrahimovic tweeted an image of a Hammarby shirt sporting his name on the back, sparking rampant speculation.

The battle for Jadon Sancho's signature looks set to begin.

Four high-profile clubs in England and Spain are reportedly monitoring the teenager, one of Europe's brightest prospects.

Aggrieved with recent events at Borussia Dortmund, Sancho could now seek a new home for next season.

 

TOP STORY – CLUBS QUEUE UP FOR 'SCAPEGOAT' SANCHO

Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid are the "leading quartet" of suitors for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to The Athletic.

Former club Manchester City have also asked to be "kept informed" following a string of events that have upset the 19-year-old England winger, notably his first-half substitution in the 4-0 Klassiker loss to Bayern Munich earlier this month.

Sancho's representatives are said to have deemed that move "disgraceful", paving the way for his Dortmund departure at the end of the Bundesliga season.

 

ROUND-UP

Paul Pogba's prolonged absence for Manchester United is part of a concerted effort to force through a January transfer to LaLiga giants Madrid, claims Spanish journalist Paco Gonzalez. Pogba, not sighted since September, is recovering from an ankle injury.

- According to Calciomercato, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is weighing up a move to AC Milan. The 38-year-old is available on a free transfer after leaving MLS outfit LA Galaxy. Ibrahimovic has been linked to Bologna, Tottenham, Napoli and Perth Glory.

West Ham are considering replacing Manuel Pellegrini with Chris Wilder, reports The Mirror. The Hammers are languishing 16th in the Premier League after 13 games, while Wilder's Sheffield United are riding high in sixth. Chris HughtonDavid Moyes and Rafael Benitez are reportedly among the other candidates should West Ham lose patience with Pellegrini.

- Wolves defender Owen Otasowie is wanted by Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Bundesliga team Schalke, reports The Sun. 18-year-old centre-back has also been watched by Liverpool and Arsenal.

- The Mirror reports Aston Villa are leading the race to sign Rhian Brewster on loan in January. Brewster, 19, has been unable to break his way into Liverpool's Premier League plans this term. The report states Villa face competition from Crystal PalaceLeeds United and Swansea City.

Spain head coach Robert Moreno insists he did not call up Wolves winger Adama Traore "on a whim" for this month's Euro 2020 qualifying matches.

Traore was surprisingly named as a replacement for the injured Rodrigo Moreno only for a hamstring issue to force him to withdraw from the squad.

It had been suggested Traore was only called up so that he would make a competitive appearance for Spain and therefore no longer be eligible to represent Mali, the country of his parents.

However, Moreno - who worked with the player at Hospitalet and Barcelona, where he made his senior debut - says he has long considered calling up Traore due to his ability to unsettle deep-lying defences.

"I'm looking for players who can create an imbalance. Adama Traore has that and is very different from others," he told a news conference.

"He suffered a little problem on Sunday. I spoke with him and he told me he couldn't come.

"Adama is very well-known because he came out of La Florida, my local club. He was at Hospitalet, where I was, and we gave him his debut at Barcelona. Nobody knows him like I do.

"He wasn't called up on a whim. We've been following him for a long time and he has been on two preliminary squad lists."

Spain, who have already qualified for the Euro 2020 finals, face Malta and Romania in their final two games in Group F.

Moreno is eager to see a more clinical edge in attack from his players given they were held by Norway and Sweden in their most recent games.

"We lacked aim in the last two games against Norway and Sweden. We create chances, but you still have to create more," he said.

"This week, we've emphasised working against teams who close things down, as I think that's how the games against Malta and Romania will be."

Moreno also suggested he could give Roma goalkeeper Pau Lopez a chance to impress, as the battle for the number-one position continues between Kepa Arrizabalaga and David de Gea.

"I said I wanted to try everyone and I'm a man of my word. It could be that Pau Lopez plays one of the next two games," he said.

Ruben Neves is not concerned about Cristiano Ronaldo's state of mind for Portugal despite a difficult week at club level with Juventus.

Ronaldo, 34, was substituted in each of Juve's past two matches before the international break and is reported to have left the stadium early when hooked in Sunday's 1-0 win over AC Milan.

Paulo Dybala came on for the Portugal talisman against Milan and went on to score the winner, with Ronaldo visibly annoyed as he headed straight down the tunnel when replaced by the Argentina international.

Juve head coach Maurizio Sarri put Ronaldo's withdrawals down to a bruised knee, though the forward still received criticism for his reaction.

Wojciech Szczesny said Ronaldo's anger was understandable, but he appears to have mellowed since linking up with Portugal.

Speaking ahead of Thursday's Euro 2020 qualifier against Lithuania, Neves said: "Cristiano is fine, had a great training session, as always, and he has a great motivation for the match.

"He's fully prepared for the match. I guess he has no idea of what people are talking about.

"He had a fine training session, as I've already said, so I guess we can expect the Ronaldo we always see in the game tomorrow."

Wolves midfielder Neves has continued to impress this season after catching the eye in the Premier League last term, but it was put to him that he seems more reserved when wearing a Portugal jersey.

He is convinced that is a misconception, however, adamant he feels just as productive for the Selecao as he does for Wolves.

"No, no," Neves said. "We have lots of matches with Wolves. If we compare my number of matches and goals for Wolves and the same for Portugal, the difference won't be big.

"So, I'm focused on helping my national team all the times I'm called up and don't have anything more to say about this."

Adama Traore will have medical tests to determine the severity of an injury that has forced his withdrawal from the Spain squad, with Pablo Sarabia taking his place.

Traore – who had reportedly been close to declaring for Mali, the country of his parents – was called into Robert Moreno's squad for the first time on Saturday as a replacement for Valencia forward Rodrigo Moreno.

But the winger suffered an injury in the 2-1 win over Aston Villa the following day and will be unable to feature in the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Malta and Romania, with Spain aiming to clinch top spot in Group F.

It remains to be seen if the problem will keep him sidelined for Wolves after the international break, with Traore set for tests on Monday.

He told the website of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) : "Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the call-up of the national team because of an injury in the game we played this Sunday against Aston Villa.

"I am sorry I cannot be in this squad, but I will continue working to be in the best possible condition for the next lists, God willing.

"I want to give thanks for the confidence that the coach has placed in me. This Monday I will have medical tests at my club, Wolves, to know the extent of the injury."

Traore, 23, represented his birth nation Spain at various youth levels through to Under-21, but a career with the senior side for a long time had seemed unlikely.

Media speculation in recent weeks claimed he had chosen to represent Mali, as a photo of him holding the African nation's jersey circulated on social media last week.

Some criticised his call-up, suggesting Spain had only selected Traore in an attempt to stop him featuring for Mali, which would have prevented him from future appearances for La Roja.

Paris Saint-Germain winger Sarabia takes his place in the selection.

Excellent strikes from Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez gave Wolves a deserved 2-1 win over midlands rivals Aston Villa at Molineux.

Villa were struck by an early injury to goalkeeper Jed Steer – himself a replacement for regular number one Tom Heaton – and spent much of the opening period on the back foot, with the otherwise impressive Jimenez passing up a pair of good chances.

Neves stepped up to beat Villa replacement Orjan Nyland four minutes before half-time, dispatching a trademark strike from outside the box after Joao Moutinho picked out his fellow Portugal international from a right-wing corner.

Jimenez slotted in Adama Traore's 84th-minute cross for the goal his endeavours deserved and, despite Trezeguet besting Romain Saiss' efforts on the goalline to pull one back in stoppage time, Nuno Espirito Santo's men held out for a win that puts them eighth in the table.

Raul Jimenez scored a 92nd-minute winner as Wolves beat Slovan Bratislava 1-0 in Thursday's Europa League clash to move to the brink of the knockout stage.

The Premier League side won 2-1 when the sides last met two weeks ago but looked as though they were going to be denied a third successive Group K victory by inspired Slovan goalkeeper Dominik Greif this time.

Ruben Neves had a penalty saved early in the second half, and Greif produced a number of other impressive stops to frustrate Wolves at Molineux.

But with 12 minutes added on due to a nasty head injury to Kenan Bajric, Jimenez headed in Adama Traore's floated cross to move his side to within one point of the last 32.

A new striker in January is a priority at Manchester United and reports suggest a familiar face could make a sensational return to England.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has previously said the club will be doing business after Christmas, with a striker still required following the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez.

Marcus Rashford has scored three goals in his previous two matches, while Anthony Martial marked his return from injury with a goal against Norwich City last Sunday, but a surprising name could provide the answer to United's depth issues up top.

 

TOP STORY – MANCHESTER UNITED MAKE CONTACT WITH IBRAHIMOVIC

Manchester United have made contact with former striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, according to TuttoMercatoWeb.

Ibrahimovic scored 30 goals in MLS for LA Galaxy in 2019, but they were eliminated from the post-season after a 5-3 defeat to cross-town rivals LAFC in the Western Conference semi-finals last weekend.

Interest in the former Barcelona, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain striker has increased since the end of LA Galaxy's season with the Swede still believing he can contribute at the highest level.

The 38-year-old is currently a free agent and scored 29 goals at Old Trafford in a brief spell with the club previously.

ROUND-UP

- One player who may create funds for Manchester United's January business is defender Chris Smalling, but Corriere dello Sport claim the Red Devils want double the €10 million price Roma are expecting to pay for him. 

- AS are reporting Edinson Cavani is weighing up his future at Paris Saint-Germain with Atletico Madrid and Inter Miami keeping tabs on the Uruguayan.

Stefano Sensi is currently on-loan at Inter Milan from Sassuolo, but Sport claim Sensi's agent is in Barcelona as speculation of a move to the Spanish champions grows.

- The Daily Mail claims Wolves will turn to Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes in January as they seek reinforcements to cover the injured Willy Boly.

- Chelsea are interested in signing Hertha Berlin winger Javairo Dilrosun when their transfer ban expires, according to Calciomercato.

- L'Equipe say Nantes are among several clubs showing interest in free agent forward Hatem Ben Arfa.

Arsenal desperately need a positive result against Wolves if they are to draw a line under a tumultuous week at Emirates Stadium, but Nuno Espirito Santo's men have a strong record against the top flight's 'big six'.

The Gunners have been reeling since they squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Crystal Palace in a game that saw Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka booed by his own supporters, and the visibly angry Switzerland international cupped his ear to the disgruntled crowd as he left the field.

The result left Arsenal winless in two league games and facing something of a crisis of leadership as they prepare to face Wolves, who arrive in north London unbeaten in their last five league matches.

Last season's FA Cup semi-finalists have conceded just three goals in that time, and Arsenal need only look at the champions to learn about the threat they pose - it is less than a month since Wolves stunned Manchester City at Etihad Stadium, Adama Traore scoring two late goals in a 2-0 victory.

All eyes will be on Xhaka, should he play, as fifth-placed Arsenal seek to stave off the challenge of five teams within three points of them in the Premier League table.

EMERY MUST FIND MEN WHO CAN GO THE DISTANCE

Unai Emery has rotated his Arsenal midfield continuously this season and he has no shortage of match-fit replacements for Xhaka should he opt to leave his under-fire playmaker out against Wolves.

Lucas Torreira and Joe Willock have both played deep-lying midfield roles in recent matches and Emery may opt to trust one of them alongside Matteo Guendouzi in what is likely to be a high-octane battle in the middle of the park.

Nuno likes to pack the middle of his midfield in away games and the combination of Leander Dendoncker, Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho helped Wolves come from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Newcastle United last time out.

That game followed a familiar pattern for Wolves, who have conceded the first goal in more Premier League matches (seven) than any other side this season, though they have come back to draw five of those games.

While the average time Arsenal take to score their first goal in Premier League matches is 39 minutes, Wolves take an average of 61 minutes to find the net.

Twice in league games this season Arsenal have led by more than one goal only to draw 2-2. As they go up against the division's comeback specialists, they can ill afford to slip up again.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: GRANIT XHAKA V RUBEN NEVES

Having left him out of the rollercoaster EFL Cup defeat to Liverpool at Anfield, Emery has a big decision to make about whether to recall the much-maligned Xhaka.

Gunners greats Ian Wright, Nigel Winterburn and Emmanuel Petit have been among the many to condemn his actions but a return to the XI has not been ruled out.

Should he get the nod, Xhaka could win back some favour with supporters by getting the better of Neves in a key midfield battle.

The pair operate in similar roles to vastly differing degrees of adulation, even as the Opta data portrays Wolves star Neves as generally less effective than the Arsenal skipper.

Xhaka has created four more scoring chances, registered three more tackles and provided three more blocks in the Premier League this season despite playing one game less.

He has additionally contested 33 more duels at a superior success rate and his passing accuracy of 86.54 per cent is comfortably in advance of Neves' 75.45 per cent.

However, the Portuguese former Porto man can lay claim to having made seven more interceptions than Xhaka, a skill that will prove useful as the visitors attempt to stymie their opponents' play in north London.

FORM GUIDE: WOLVES IN CAPITAL MOOD

The prospect of a trip to London will not daunt Wolves, who have not lost a Premier League match in the capital since March 2012, when Fulham thumped them 5-0.

They have won three and drawn four of their seven subsequent matches in the city, and their recent form has been good no matter where they play.

Nuno's men have scored in each of their last nine Premier League games and could set a club record in the competition by finding the net on Saturday. Only table-topping Liverpool (19) are on a longer current goal-scoring run in the competition.

Arsenal must make the most of early opportunities, given that Wolves have scored a league-high 85 per cent of their Premier League goals in the second half of games this season (11/13), and Emery will take heart from his side's imperious home record on Saturday afternoons.

Arsenal have not lost at home at this time on a Saturday since the opening day of the 2013-14 season (1-3 vs Aston Villa), winning 20 and drawing two since then.

Goals are rarely in short supply at the Emirates, where Arsenal have scored in each of their last 23 league games, but the Gunners have kept just one clean sheet in their last seven.

HISTORY SAYS...

Arsenal have faced Wolves 10 times in the Premier League, breezing to consecutive victories in their first six matches against them in the competition.

Since then, however, they have won just one of their last four (D2, L1) and they failed to win either of their clashes with Nuno's newly promoted side in 2018-19.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan rescued a point for the Gunners in this fixture last season, scoring an 86th-minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw, and Wolves were 3-1 winners when the sides met at Molineux in April.

That victory ended a run of 16 league games without victory against the Gunners and another win on Saturday would see Wolves recording consecutive top-flight wins against them for the first time since September 1979 (a run of three).

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