English Premier League

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 – 2 Arsenal

Arsenal put their Champions League disappointment firmly in the past to beat Wolves at Molineux and move back to the top of the Premier League.

Having blown their chance to leapfrog Pep Guardiola’s side six days ago by losing at home to Aston Villa, then been knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich on Wednesday, it was a welcome triumph for Mikel Arteta’s men.

Leandro Trossard’s strike in the last minute of the opening period may not have been the most eye-catching of the Belgian’s career but it was perfectly timed.

It came at the end of a half where Arsenal seemed to have got stuck after a bright start and nearly fell behind to Gary O’Neil’s injury-ravaged side.

The visitors dominated the second half too but were unable to carve out the clear chances that would have allowed them to take the game out of reach.

Captain Martin Odegaard added the second deep into stoppage time at the end of the game, turning in from a tight angle after his initial cross had been blocked.

The result means Arsenal are now a point clear of City, with a better goal difference but having played a game more.

They have the chance to apply some significant pressure to the defending champions when they entertain beaten FA Cup semi-finalists Chelsea on Tuesday.

Tired Wolves’ winless run continues

Wolves’ efforts were recognised positively by fans who stayed behind their team throughout – but when the season draws to a close, how much will they regret allowing Championship Coventry to overturn their injury-time lead in their FA Cup quarter-final at Molineux last month?

A Wembley semi-final this weekend would have lifted a season that has turned into a grind for O’Neil’s squad, who were superb for the first two-thirds of the campaign but now seem affected by a lack of energy and bodies.

Joao Gomes forced David Raya to push his angled first-half effort on to a post and substitute Mario Lemina tested the Arsenal keeper with a second-half shot.

But they were sporadic moments of attacking invention, with Wolves’ best performers being defenders, particularly captain Max Kilman and Toti, who were outstanding at the heart of the home side’s rearguard action.

On-loan Tommy Doyle was industrious for Wolves.

However, they have now gone six games without a win in all competitions, their longest run since the end of the 2021-22 season.

Chairman Jeff Shi has repeatedly stated the club did not bring in reinforcements during the January window because he was not prepared to risk breaking the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules. However, the feeling will linger that the decision cost Wolves and O’Neil a realistic shot at a top half finish.

Trossard strikes the crucial blow
Trossard has been in and out as an Arsenal player since joining from Brighton in a £21m deal in January 2023.

The Belgian has still made more substitute appearances than starts in the Premier League for the Gunners – and when things are not going well, he is an obvious candidate to be replaced.

Yet he scores key goals. Since the beginning of last month alone, he has provided a winner against Porto in the Champions League, an equaliser in the home leg of the quarter-final with Bayern Munich, and now his latest effort – which takes him to 14 for the season in all competitions. Only Bukayo Saka has scored more for the Gunners.

It was a scruffy effort, leaning back and on the stretch to get to Gabriel Jesus’ prodded pass. But it floated right into the top corner, out of goalkeeper Jose Sa’s reach. It changed the complexion of an evening that was starting to get a bit nervy for the visitors, who before that had allowed Wolves back into a game they had initially dominated.

At the end of a tough week, it was understandable Arsenal were not at their free-flowing best.

Still, they had chances. Kai Havertz swivelled neatly inside the area in both halves. However, on each occasion, the German sent his shot straight at Jose Sa.

Declan Rice had four opportunities, including a first-half shot he sent fizzing just wide and an injury-time effort that forced Sa into a decent save. Yet, for all his obvious qualities, the England midfielder is yet to improve his goals output, something he is certainly capable of.

It took Odegaard to finally finish Wolves off with a close-range effort in stoppage time.


Back to top button