Neither side will be playing for anything but pride on the North London soil, with the Gunners firmly entrenched in second place in the table and Wolves only capable of bettering their position in the bottom half.
As the survival party began at the City Ground, Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal could not have vacated the away dressing room quickly enough, as the toothless Gunners were left to rue what could have been in the Premier League title race.
Needing to win at Nottingham Forest to keep the fight for glory alive for another day, Arsenal succumbed to a Taiwo Awoniyi winner and failed to come up with a response against a well-drilled Tricky Trees backline, thereby confirming Manchester City’s status as champions after 248 days at the top.
While the Gunners have now written an unwanted piece of Premier League history – no side has spent so long at the summit without winning the league – Arteta’s side have punched above their weight and then some this season, and the bright lights of the Champions League will soon shine down on the Emirates turf once again.
However, on the back of their end-of-season capitulation last year – which saw them miss out on a place in the top four – there is a sense of deja vu around North London, as Arsenal fans have witnessed their team win just two of their last eight games, while losing both of their last two without making the net ripple.
As evidenced by last year’s 5-1 final-day thrashing of Everton, though, Arsenal can turn up the heat when the pressure is off, and just one more win for the Gunners would see them hit 26 for the campaign – only the 2003-04 Invincibles and 2001-02 Premier League champions prevailed in as many contests during a single season.
While Arsenal’s penchant for final-day triumphs is well-documented – the Gunners have an all-time high 70% win percentage in gameweek 38 – Wolves have fallen to defeat in each of their last five final-day matches since edging past Sunderland 2-1 in 2010.
Only a couple of weeks on from hailing Premier League survival as his “greatest achievement”, Wolves head coach Julen Lopetegui is apparently considering his Molineux future after learning of the spending restrictions that will hamper his side this summer, and the ex-Sevilla coach will not be expecting a fond farewell at the Emirates if recent history is anything to go by.
During the 2022 Emirates Cup, Lopetegui’s Sevilla were thrashed 6-0 by Arsenal – a sign of things to come for the Palanganas before they turned their fortunes around – and the 56-year-old’s mood would have hardly been brighter when a last-gasp Yerry Mina strike cancelled out a Hwang Hee-chan opener in a 1-1 draw with Everton last week.
The Colombian’s injury-time leveller ended a four-game winning run at Molineux for 13th-placed Wolves, who could either finish as high as 11th or as low as 15th depending on results elsewhere, but their away form has not been the decisive factor in their survival; Wolves have failed to win any of their last seven matches on their travels and have only performed better than Leeds United and Nottingham Forest on rival turf this term.
Arsenal eased to a 2-0 victory over Wolves in the West Midlands during their final pre-World Cup Premier League fixture, which extended their winning run over Lopetegui’s side to three games, the second of which saw a late Jose Sa own goal spark Emirates pandemonium in a 2-1 success for the Gunners 15 months ago.
Arsenal Premier League form:
Wolverhampton Wanderers Premier League form:
We say: Arsenal 1-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
With Wolves lacking attacking inspiration all season long and Arsenal looking devoid of ideas when Saliba and Zinchenko are missing, expect a low-key final-day battle between two sides who are already looking ahead to next season.
A solitary goal may settle this dead rubber, and given Wolves’ repeated failings on the road, it should go the way of Arsenal, as Arteta’s side end a troubled springtime run with a flourish.