Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, can afford a rare smile to himself these days as he glances down at the Premier League table. That may not have been the case in November when his side were comprehensively beaten by fellow London club and title chasers Chelsea 3-0 at the Emirates. Rafa Benitez, the Liverpool manager, will have a similar sense of satisfaction after one result that could alter the outlook of their season. From being ridiculed and all but ruled out of a top-four finish, the club are now the flavour of the month following a vital 2-0 win against Tottenham last weekend, achieved without spearheads Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres. A sense of belief is back at Anfield and another victory at Wolves tonight will take them into the top four.
Defender Martin Skrtel summed up the mood swing, saying: "I firmly believe that better times are ahead of us as, up to present, we have been far behind the pre-season objectives." The optimism has been helped by the emergence of Alberto Aquilani. He was given only his third league start against Spurs and probed well in the role behind the lone striker Dirk Kuyt. Gerrard could return tonight, but creativity will be needed to break down a workmanlike Wolves side. Defeat could send Mick McCarthy's men back down into the bottom three and the 2-0 defeat at Anfield last month still rankles. The dismissal of Stephen Ward for a second yellow card was decisive after the referee, Andre Marriner, had mistakenly booked his teammate Christophe Berra, but changed his mind following Liverpool's appeals.
New French midfield signing Adlene Guedioura, on loan from Belgian club Charleroi, could be in line to make his Wolves debut. Wolves v Liverpool, 11.45pm, Showsports 1 & 2