Result: Arsenal 1 – 1 Wolves
Competition: Premier League
Date: 2 Nov 2019
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Arsenal: Leno, Chambers, Sokratis, Luiz, Tierney, Guendouzi, Torreira, Ozil, Ceballos, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Subs: Martinez, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Willock, Martinelli, Saka, Pepe
Arsenal dropped 2 points at home against Wolves as they lacked the quality to finish off their opponents while dominating possession for large parts of the game.
Aubameyang scored the first goal in the second half but it was Ceballos who was culpable for the equalizer, allowing Moutinho to run past him and cross for Jiminez to head home for Wolves.
Mesut Ozil makes his return to the team for a Premier League game following his stellar display in the Carabao Cup. Without Pepe in the team, Arsenal seem to line up in a 4-4-2 formation with a diamond shape in the midfield an Ozil in a free role.
The narrow formation meant that Wolves dominated the opening minutes, taking advantage of the space vacated down the flanks to build up play while Arsenal struggled to make the simplest of passes stick – Guendouzi being the biggest culprit in giving the ball away cheaply.
The Gunners eventually got to settle into a rhythm by the 10th minute with Ozil and Lacazette dropping back to help build up play and Luiz exploiting any space in the Wolves defence by pinging his signature long raking passes. It was all Arsenal now as Wolves retreated to their shell once the men in red got going.
It wasn’t long until Arsenal got their first shot on target with Aubameyang shooting tamely at the keeper. Moments later, Torreira found space in the box to shoot just wide. The signs were there and it was Aubemeyang who made the dominance count on the 20th minute.
Luiz received the ball high up the right flank as he made an enterprising foray forward and fizzed it low into the feet of Lacazette. The Frenchman calmly controlled the ball and squared it to Aubameyang who couldn’t miss with the entire goal in front of him. 1-0
Arsenal continued by moving the ball confidently and probing against the deep Wolves line. At the heart of it all was Ozil who, though not spectacular, has been lively and dependable in the first half by being involved in most of the build up play and showed a great range of mobility to be a passing option for the team.
Ozil’s performance was representative of Arsenal’s comfortable first half – solid and a cruise in third gear. However, there were warning signs as Wolves came close to an equalizer twice in the final few minutes if not for a save by Leno and a block by Sokratis.
Emery’s team surely had to prepare his team for pressure by Wolves while looking to kill off the game with a second goal.
Wolves attempted to press higher up the field at the start of the half in search for their goal. That push almost resulted in a goal 3 minutes in as Ruben Neves whipped in a curling strike from outside the box which Leno had to palm away to safety.
While there were not many more chances created by both sides after 15 minutes, the pace of the game continued to increase as Wolves chased a goal and Arsenal striking back with rapid counters. It was at that point when Emery leaned into the notion of pace by taking off Lacazette, who had an indifferent game, for the high intensity play of Martinelli.
And it was Martinelli’s quick counter that brought the game’s first yellow card for Wolves’ Saiss as he hacked down the Brazilian down the right wing – the only way to stop the dangerous break.
Emery was clearly keen to win all three points as he rolled the dice on bringing on Saka for a midfield body in Torreira just after the 70th minute, and put his faith in pace and youth.
The move backfired as Wolves equalized almost immediately. Ceballos did not track Moutinho’s run from midfield and allowed the midfielder to cross. Jiminez rose high above Chambers to head the ball down and leave the game wide open. 1-1
Chances for an Arsenal winner were scarce with the best one being a well-threaded cut back from Ozil for Martinelli that was blocked by a packed Wolves defence. The game ended with a draw in a performance that wasn’t awful but was lacked a killer instinct to put the game to bed when the team was dominant.
A missed opportunity to stake a claim for top 4 as Manchester United dropped points while rivals were playing much later.