Arsenal can feel unlucky to have been held to a 1-1 by Wolves at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon but the visitors can thank a remarkable goalkeeping performance from Wayne Hennessy.
Arsene Wenger made some changes with Djourou surprisingly back in the starting line-up at right back, meaning Vermaelen played on the left. Tomas Rosicky came into midfield to replace the rested Aaron Ramsey while Yossi Benayoun replaced the ill Theo Walcott in the front three.
Arsenal started brightly, dominating possession and scored after just eight minutes. Wolves winger Matt Jarvis had caused some problems in the Arsenal penalty area and may have won a penalty had he gone down under the challege, instead he chose to stay on his feet. His cross was cleared allowing Arsenal to break with Tomas Rosicky.
He gave it to Yossi Benayoun who pass split open the Wolves defence for Gervinho to go through on goal. He hasn’t always been reliable this season in these situations and for a moment it looked like he’d done too much but he cut in on his left foot and finished to make it 1-0 Arsenal.
Wolves had some dangerous moments but Arsenal had over 70% possession in the first half hour and should have scored more for that. Robin van Persie forced a great save from Wayne Hennessy when he shrugged off some vigorous Wolves challenges, and the away team’s method of dealing the Premier League’s most in-form striker was to crowd him out and foul if at all possible.
Roger Johnson picked up a yellow card for tripping van Persie on the edge of the box but Arteta’s free kick was easily saved. The Spaniard had another shot blocked and then, as so often happens in a game Arsenal dominate, we conceded in the 38th minute.
From a corner which was half-cleared, Stephen Hunt’s shot deflected into the path of Stephen Fletcher, and with the Arsenal defence, and Alex Song in particular, slow to push out he beat the offside trap and headed back across goal from about 6 yards out. 1-1. It might just be me but I think we’ve conceded more goals which have just crept inside the post than any other team this season.
In the second half two things happened:
1 – Stuart Atwell proved once again he’s not fit to be a Premier League referee with a string of shit decisions, not least of which was Wolves red card which was never a red card, but more importantly he missed a clear handball which should have been an Arsenal penalty.
2 – Wayne Hennessy saved everything, and I mean everything, that Arsenal threw at him. From van Persie free kicks, Mertesacker headers, Vermaelen close-rangers, RVP shots to the near post which he saved with his legs while diving the other way, you name it, he saved it. Helped, perhaps, by van Persie being slightly off the boil too, it has to be said, but that’s not to take anything away from him.
Frustrating as it might be to drop points – and it really, really is – but you have to give credit to Hennessy for what was a truly outstanding performance. The dropped points don’t hurt quite as much because of yesterday. It’s a shame we didn’t take advantage but we haven’t fallen any further behind.
QPR must suffer for this though.