Result: Wolves 3-1 Arsenal
Competition: Premier League
Date: 24th April 2019
Venue: Molineux Stadium
Starting XI: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal, Torreira, Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Ozil, Lacazette
Subs: Cech, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Elneny, Willock, Guendouzi, Nketiah
Arsenal’s hopes of finishing in the Premier League top four are no longer in our own hands after a disastrously cowardly performance was punished by Wolves who won 3-1 at Molineux.
After the disappointment of Sunday’s defeat to Crystal Palace, Unai Emery needed a big performance from his players but they let him down badly, as Ruben Neves, Matt Doherty and Diogo Jota took advantage of lax defending and bad goalkeeping to give the hosts an unassailable three-goal advantage before the break.
Sokratis grabbed a consolation – our 100th goal of the season – with 10 minutes remaining but a comeback was never on the cards.
Arsenal were very much in charge of the opening exchanges, probing with intricate passing triangles that pushed the home side, who looked somewhat sluggish, onto the back foot.
Iwobi, Ozil and Mkhitaryan all looked sharpish, however, for all the possession, our most dangerous moment in the first 20 minutes was an effort over the bar from the edge of the box by the Armenian. We’ve been here before. We know how this script goes.
After that, momentum swung the way of the home side. There we go.
Joao Moutinho had the Molineux crowd off their seats with a curler that whipped wide of Leno’s left post and a long throw in caused havoc in our defence leading to a chance for Jimenez; he flicked over.
The chance spurred on the home side who soon after won a free-kick on the edge of our box when Monreal accidentally clashed with Jonny. Ruben Neves stepped up and curled over the wall, most of whom turned their back on the effort, to beat Leno. (1-0)
We needed a big response. Instead, we shit the bed. Wolves came close again when Jimenez fired wide and Xhaka picked up a booking for dissent after Koscielny made another foul on the edge of the box. This time Neves’ set piece was deflected over.
There was a brief moment of excitement when Lacazette went on a solo run but he lost his head at the decisive moment and shot well wide. Back came Wolves.
Jota’s dancing feet deceived Maitland-Niles and Leno was lucky that his attempts to stop the cross saw the ball go out for a corner. The German was lucky. From the resulting corner, his luck and judgement deserted him. A short corner led to a ball into the box and Leno’s flapping did nothing to put off Doherty who headed into an empty net. Monreal pleaded for offside. He was ignored. (2-0)
To add to our misery, deep into first half stoppage time Jota beat Sokratis, indulging in the type of half-arsed defending that saw Mustafi singled out for abuse on Sunday, and slid a shot through Leno. Not around him. Not over him. Through him. The German’s decision to have his worst game in an Arsenal shirt couldn’t have been more untimely. (3-0)
In the second half, the home side were happy enough to sit back and soak up our toothless possession. It felt like they were waiting for our interest in a comeback to wane before they picked us off.
Lacazette had a claim for a penalty waved away. He was probably offside. It was probably a foul. Neither were given.
Guendouzi replaced Torreira and we started to go sideways a lot. “You’re fucking shit” was the chant from the terraces. It was probably the home fans singing it, but the travelling Gooners would have been forgiven indulging in such a ditty.
Nketiah replaced Iwobi and briefly shut up the Wolves fans, who’d taken to oleing every pass, by setting up Lacazette. Boly came to the rescue.
Sokratis did head home a corner by Xhaka to reduce the deficit with 10 minutes remaining but by that point, you could tell we just wanted to get on the bus home. (3-1)
We don’t have much time to pick ourselves up. On Sunday afternoon we’re at Leicester City where Brendan Rodgers and Jamie Vardy will no doubt be lining up to stick the knife in. After a performance like this it’s very hard to see us getting anything at the King Power.
If we don’t pick up three points we can pretty much say goodbye to the top four. Our only saving grace is that Manchester United and Chelsea, who play each other on Saturday, have also been doing their best to cock things up recently.