Result: Arsenal 1-1 Wolves
Competition: Premier League
Date: 11th November 2018
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Torreira, Ozil, Iwobi, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Subs: Cech, Sokratis, Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Nketiah
Arsenal drew with Wolves 1-1 in a game that had a below-par Gunners lucky to have earned a point in the race to keep pace with the league’s top 4.
Unai Emery made wholesale changes from the game against Sporting Lisbon with only the in-form duo of Rob Holding and Alex Iwobi keeping their places in the starting line-up.
The match started with Arsenal keeping possession of the ball patiently in a bid to break down an organized Wolves side. Aubameyang started on the left but could have been seen making regular incursions into the forward areas to support Lacazette in the early stages of the match.
It wasn’t until the 6th minute where we saw the first flash point of the game. Iwobi’s dribble into the box was stopped by a body check by a Wolves defender. The force of the knock saw the Nigerian hit the ground but calls for a penalty were waved away by the referee.
However, it was an error from Xhaka that led to Wolves scoring the first goal of the game. In what looked like a lapse in concentration, Xhaka let the ball roll past him when he should have received the ball to feet. Cavaleiro stole the ball, played a one-two with his teammate and ghosted past Xhaka to tap in from close range. 0-1 to Wolves.
Arsenal upped the tempo in search for the equalizer but couldn’t find the composure to put together a series of passes to penetrate the deep Wolves defence.
On the 21st minute, fans were treated to end-to-end action in both halves. Ozil received the ball on the left side of a crowded Wolves penalty box to cut back to Lacazette who showed great composure to shift the ball past his marker. His follow up shot was unfortunately blocked by a defender before multiple deflections had the ball at Iwobi’s feet outside the box. Iwobi’s effort from the edge of the box was duly blocked by another defender.
That was immediately followed up by a quick counter by Wolves. Costa cut in from the right wing to shoot but Leno covered his angle well to meet the ball with a strong palm. He saved the rebound before Jimenez could pounce on it.
Leno had to be alert again in the 26th minute as Costa struck well from outside the box towards the far post which saw the goalkeeper palm it past the post. Wolves looked sharp on the counter, pouncing on the space given up by Arsenal who were in pursuit of a goal.
A marauding run by Bellerin past the fullback on the 39th minute produced one of the best opportunities of the evening as he raced clear of his defender, only for his wayward cutback to hit the side netting – encapsulating a half by Arsenal that showed effort but little cutting edge.
Emery wasted no time in changing his tactics by putting on Matteo Guendouzi on for Alex Iwobi at the start of the second half. The team’s shape looked like a 4-4-2 with a midfield diamond consisting of Xhaka playing at the base with Guendouzi and Torreira flanking him and Ozil at the tip of the shape.
The change seemed to spur Arsenal into action as it gave more opportunities to the full backs to start higher up the pitch with numerical overloads in the half spaces.
Guendouzi showed his enterprise on the ball with a speculative shot on goal on the 49th minute from the left side of the box but it was comfortably collected by the goalkeeper. Torreira then had a sensational strike from outside the box saved 10 minutes later.
Despite the increased pressure, Wolves still looked relatively comfortable defending deep and countering with pace. It was on one of these counters where Wolves almost got a second from a dangerous cutback only for Mustafi to make a crucial interception on 62 minutes to prevent a tap in.
Some good passing exchanges on the left saw Xhaka crossing low into the box. The ball whizzed past everyone and landed on Bellerin’s left foot which drove the ball just over the bar.
Arsenal went close to an equalizer on the 72nd minute as Aubameyang’s effort hit the post – the result of a good cross-field pass from Xhaka to Torreira who teed the ball off for an onrushing Bellerin to pass to the Gabonese striker. Unlucky.
Emery called on his last two substitutes in the 74th minute as Ramsey and Mhkitaryan came on for Ozil and Kolasinac in search for a goal.
Another dangerous counter attack by Wolves in the 84th minute almost doubled their lead. They made it a 3-on-2 situation as Arsenal committed too many men forward. The Gunners had Leno to thank for keeping them in the game.
And kept in the game they did. Mhkitaryan’s cross shot, just minutes later, fooled the keeper as he expected his defenders to head it clear. The ball averted all players on the way to the far post as it floated in for the goal. 1-1 and the Emirates goes wild.
As Arsenal poured forward for the winner in injury time, Adama Traore surged forward after Wolves cleared the ball from an Arsenal corner. He showed electric pace to run past Holding and go one on one with Leno who again bailed the Gunners out with a save.
The last big moment of the game involved another Wolves breakaway in which Traore laid the ball off for his teammate whose shot rocked the crossbar.
Overall a poor day out for the Arsenal players who seemed out of sync with one another and needed a few important saves by Leno who made sure the Gunners ended the game with a point at home.