LONDON, Feb 11, 2011 (AFP) - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger heads into his side's meeting with Wolves at the Emirates on Saturday with a sense of relief.
For a start, every one of his 11 international representatives returned from their respective midweek friendly matches unscathed.
|Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger looks on before the English Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James' Park, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne on February 5, 2011. AFP|
And, secondly, last week's collapse away to Newcastle, where Arsenal were leading 4-0 after half an hour only to draw 4-4, seems to have left no dents in his side's confidence.
Midfielder Jack Wilshere headed back from his full England debut in the 2-1 win over Denmark with the praise of international manager, Fabio Capello, ringing in his ears.
Meanwhile Theo Walcott, who also played well for England on Wednesday, said any disappointment Arsenal felt at drawing with Newcastle was reduced by relegation candidates Wolves' victory over Manchester United.
Defeat ensured Premier League leaders United would not go through the season unbeaten and left Arsenal just four points behind in second place.
Walcott said "everyone had grins on their faces" the moment the squad found out the United result, after their plane carrying them back from Newcastle landed in London.
"Suddenly it was a point gained and something we can build on," said Walcott. "It changed the mood, the boss's (Wenger's) mood as well.
"It was such a disappointment -- when you are 4-0 up and want to win the league, it shouldn't happen, even if you go down to 10 men.
"Newcastle did very well, taught us a lesson, albeit with a bit of help from a couple of penalties. But there's no point sulking about it now.
"We have the character in the team to recover from that, people who will stand up to be counted.
"There are so many people in our side who will respond in the right way, but even the boss would have gone home thinking it's a point gained in the end."
Walcott added Arsenal were still very much in the Premier League title race, with 13 games left to play.
"Really, it is looking good for us. We are only four points behind United and they have still got to play (champions) Chelsea twice."
Arsenal will be without the suspended Abou Diaby, while Johan Djourou is a doubt after injuring his knee against Newcastle.
Wolves head to the Emirates having won just one game on the road this season and without an away win against Arsenal since 1979.
But manager Mick McCarthy believes the underdog tag can work to their advantage once again.
Wolves remain second bottom despite their 2-1 victory over United at Molineux, which came after they'd already beaten Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool this season.
"Being the underdog gives you something to fight for," McCarthy said.
"It's great to prove people wrong but it's not so much proving people wrong as proving you can do it.
"I'd like six points out of these next two games to make it nine with the win over United as well. We've got to play West Brom (next week) and they'll have a new manager (following the sacking of Roberto di Matteo).
McCarthy revealed he has been impressed by Jamie O'Hara, on loan from Arsenal's arch-rivals Tottenham, following the midfielder's first start for Wolves in the win over United.
"He's a bit like the rest of them -- he's a very willing lad and he'll be very good for us."