Report | Wolves 0-1 Arsenal

Wolves 0 Arsenal 1 (Gabriel 25)

Despite throwing everything at a 10-man Arsenal side as they searched for a late goal, Wolves were unable to find the equaliser they needed to maintain their winning Premier League start to 2022 at Molineux.

In the first of two meetings between Wolves and Arsenal within two weeks, Gabriel prodded the ball into the net from close-range midway through a first-half which was evenly contested by both sides. But following Gabriel Martinelli’s sending off with 20 minutes of the game remaining, the tide turned in the favour of the hosts, who swarmed the Gunners’ penalty area with bodies and chances, but Bruno Lage’s men came out unrewarded.

Lage made a raft of changes from the side which fell out of the Emirates FA Cup five days previously, with Raul Jimenez, Fransico Trincao, Marcal, Romain Saiss and Jose Sa coming back into the starting 11 for the visit of the Gunners, as Wolves looked to make it three wins from three against the side from north London having completed the double in the 2020/21 season.

Much of the early attacking at Molineux came from the men in the gold and black shirts, although Wolves were unable to severely threaten Aaron Ramsdale’s goal, with plenty of balls being played over the back of the Arsenal defence but the front three of Daniel Podence, Jimenez and Trincao were unable to reach the passes.

The closest the hosts came to opening the scoring was another chipped pass over the heads of the Arsenal defenders from Ruben Neves, who attempted to play in his midfield partner Leander Dendoncker, but the pass was a foot ahead of the onrushing Belgian who had found a gap between the Gunners’ defence, and Ramsdale was able to gather.

However, the opening 30 minutes didn’t all go Wolves way, with Maximilian Kilman and Dendoncker having to do their defensive duties to block a pair of quickfire efforts from those in the blue shirts of Arsenal.

Moments later, the visitors broke the deadlock as a corner was whipped into the Wolves box and after Jose Sa was unable to intercept the ball as it was headed on, Alexandre Lacazette poked it goalwards, but it was Gabriel who got the final touch ahead of Conor Coady to knock the ball over the line.

Wolves pushed to get back into the tie and were finding luck down the wings with the gold shirts piking crosses into the Arsenal box, with two of those almost resulted in equalisers. Firstly, Marcal’s whipped delivery to the far post almost met the head of Saiss, but Granit Xhaka was able to get in front of the defender, before Jimenez met a Trincao cross, but his header was comfortably dealt with by Ramsdale. Nelson Semedo also had an effort from the edge of the box which flashed wide.

Half-time | Wolves 0-1 Arsenal

The hosts began the second period straight out of the blocks as they looked to capitalise on the momentum they built in the closing stages of the first-half, but Wolves were struggling in the final third to turn their possession and clever movement into dangerous goalscoring opportunities, as Podence had a trio of chances but none provided a real test of Ramsdale.

Wolves grew more and more frustrated with Arsenal’s time-wasting tactics throughout the second period, and referee Michael Oliver also had enough, dishing out the yellow cards to several Gunners players.

The referee was at the centre of attention once again just before 70 minutes, as Oliver showed two yellow cards in the same run of play to Martinelli, who was penalised for pushing Podence over on the sideline before a second booking for a lunge on Chiquinho – making his Premier League debut, with the forward being sent for an early shower.

From the resulting free-kick, Wolves had the ball in the back of the net, but the assistant’s flag was raised for offside against Jimenez after the striker’s header was turned into his own net by Xhaka, but the Mexican had strayed offside in the build-up.

The game was going one way and then the other, as moments later, Lacazette should have made it two for Arsenal when he was played in behind Kilman and when facing Sa one-on-one, he curled his effort wide of the post. Saiss – making his 100th Premier League appearance for Wolves – then pulled a diving save from Ramsdale from a sweetly struck volley to keep the hosts out.

It was all-out attack for Wolves in the final 10 minutes of the game, with the Gunners camped inside their own penalty area, but with everything Wolves threw at the opponents, they were not able to find the back of the net. Chiquinho, Neves and Dendoncker – twice – had efforts at goal without capitalising.

Into the five added minutes of the game, the hosts continued to push every player forward in search of an equalising goal, but with the exception of a speculative Jimenez overhead kick, Arsenal were able to stand up steadfast against the waves of old gold pressure and take the three points back to north London.

Full-time | Wolves 0-1 Arsenal

Wolves | Sa, Semedo, Kilman, Coady (Silva 81), Saiss, Marcal (Ait-Nouri 62), Neves, Dendoncke, Trincao (Chiquinho 62), Podence, Jimenez.

Unused subs | Ruddy, Hoever, Toti, Jonny, Cundle, Hwang.

Arsenal | Ramsdale, Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard (Smith Rowe 68), Saka (Holding 71), Martinelli, Lacazette (Nketiah 80).

Unused subs | Okonkwo, Awe, Tavares, Elneny, Lokonga, Pepe.

Referee | Michael Oliver