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23:30 11th April 2012

Tremendous Spirit But Another Defeat

Wolves 0

Arsenal 3 (Van Persie-pen 9, Walcott 11, Benayoun 69)

Luckless Wolves showed tremendous spirit against Arsenal as they battled against the odds after finding themselves reduced to ten men and two goals down after just 11 minutes.

Shortly after Gunners keeper Wojciech Szczesny had made a magnificent save from Kevin Doyle, Yossi Benayoun added a third for the visitors.

Doyle came in as a lone front runner and there was also a return for David Davis. Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Steven Fletcher were both named as substitutes.

Robin Van Persie won the toss and he decided to defend the North Bank end and in the opening minutes Sebastien Bassong nodded out an Alex Song centre and then he had to head behind Bacary Sagna's cross.

Van Persie's corner was half cleared back to the striker and his driven cross back into the middle was smothered by Wayne Hennessey.

With 11 men, to get anything from the game was always going to be a big ask for Wolves but yet another questionable refereeing decision made the task a virtually impossible one.

Theo Walcott went down as he ran into the box in a tangle of legs with Bassong. Initial contact looked to be outside the box and there certainly seemed to be no intent. But the referee pointed to the spot, out came the red card and Wolves were down to ten men after just eight minutes. Van Persie made no mistake from the spot.

Terry Connor then replaced Davis with Christophe Berra - a decision that angered the crowd although the manager had few options available.

In the 11th minute Walcott took a return pass from Van Persie and drove the ball past Hennessey for Arsenal's second.

Walcott was roundly booed by the crowd every time he went near the ball and there was a determination from the home players who ran, chased and tackled for all their worth.

Wolves almost pulled one back in the 23rd minute when Berra's far post header from Kightly's corner struck Johan Djourou and was deflected inches wide. Matt Jarvis took the second corner but Szczesny had little difficulty in collecting the ball.

Richard Stearman, Van Persie and Song were all spoken to by the referee after a minor spat which followed Stearman's check on Arsenal' leading scorer.

Doyle found himself in the book after he had clearly won the ball from Mikel Arteta to further anger the crowd.

Right on half-time, Kightly released Ronald Zubar on the overlap but the defender's low cross went straight through the area with no-one able to get a touch.

Half-Time: Wolves 0 Arsenal 2

There was an almost identical situation three minutes after the restart. This time it was Doyle that passed wide for Zubar but again his cross went through to the far side.

Dave Edwards was replaced by Nenad Milijaš on 53 minutes shortly before an uncharacteristic miss by Van Persie who shot wide of the near post after running in on Arteta's cross.

Two Wolves bookings followed in as many minutes - Zubar justifiably for a late challenge on Benayoun and Kightly for a nothing challenge on Andre Santos.

Wolves deserved something for their efforts and but for a brilliant save by Szczesny, they would have done. Doyle met Jarvis's centre with a superb header that looked sure to find the net until the Polish keeper dived full length to fingertip the ball away (pictured).

A minute later Doyle supplied a cross just eluded the head of Jarvis as he dived forward.

After going so close, Wolves suddenly found themselves three down. Song pulled the ball back to Benayoun on the edge of the box and he took a couple of steps before drilling a low shot into the corner of the net.

Still Wolves refused to throw in the towel and Zubar took the ball to the bye-line before pulling it back into the heart of the box where Song was in position to boot clear.

Fletcher replaced the tireless Doyle for the remaining quarter of an hour and for Arsenal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain went on for Walcott..

Hennessey made a point blank save from Aaron Ramsey and, in the dying minutes, there was two chances for Wolves at the other end.

From the first, Fletcher was wide of the far post with an angled effort and then he pulled the ball back for Milijaš who forced another first class save from Szczesny.

Wolves: Hennessey, Zubar, Ward, Edwards (Milijaš 53), Bassong, Stearman, Kightly, Henry (capt), Doyle (Fletcher 77), Davis (Berra 10), Jarvis.

Unused subs: De Vries, Ebanks-Blake, Johnson, Forde.

Bookings: Doyle (40 - foul), Zubar (56 - foul), Kightly (58 - foul).

Sending Off: Bassong (8 - professional foul).

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna (Jenkinson 84), Vermaelen, Arteta, Van Persie (capt), Santos, Walcott (Oxlade-Chamberlain 76), Ramsey, Song, Djourou, Benayoun.

Unused subs: Rosicky, Park, Squillaci, Fabianski, Chamakh.

Referee: N. Swarbrick.

Attendance: 25,815.

    Data provided by Press Association


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.