After last week’s debacle at St. James’s Park, the Arsenal came home to the friendly confines of Emirates Stadium looking to prove to the rest of the league they are legitimate contenders for the title. From the opening kickoff, Arsenal did just that earning a massive 2-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wonderers. Arsenal remain just four points off the pace of United with a home fixture with the Red Devils looming in just a couple of months. If the race continues as is, it’s sure to be a thriller.
As usual this week, Arsenal were able to keep the majority of the possession and play the game as they pleased. England International Jack Wilshere began the party early on in the match with a direct run through the defenders of Wolves. After being brought down just outside the box, Robin Van Persie powered a free kick well over the bar. It was an escape, yet just the beginning of an offensive onslaught.
Wolves, who fielded the same squad that defeated United last week at home, did establish a small foothold in the early stages of this game and proved they could be as dangerous as last week’s result indicated. Kevin Doyle again served as the lone-striker for the majority of the game and created some tense moments, however in truth Wojciech Szczesny was never really troubled. He was forced to come off of line a few times to make a catch but that was the extent of it. Another clean sheet for the blossoming Polish International.
In the 16th minute, Arsenal finally broke through on a beautifully placed pass from the right wing by “El Capitan.” Robin Van Persie stood in front of the goal and hit a lovely right-footed shot past Wayne Hennessey on the half-volley. The Dutchman is in magnificent scoring form netting 10 goals in his last 6 Premier League appearances for Arsenal. The reminder of the first half was all-Arsenal, but frustrating for the Gunners none the less as they were unable to capitalize on the lion’s share of possession they had.
The second half was really much more of the first half, Arsenal possession: Wayne Hennessey saves. Hennessey was one of the few bright spots for Wolves in this competition.
Andrey Arshavin again played very well on the left wing. He appears to be returning to form which could be very important for the Gunners as they still seek silverware in 4 different tournaments. We will see if he makes an appearance against Barcelona in this week’s 1st leg of the Champion’s League. He played some beautiful balls in to his teammates but was never fortunate enough for one of them to find the back of the net. Theo Walcott was the beneficiary of many of them but was just could not seem to put anything past Hennessey. Wolves attempted to play a high back line to interfere with the Gunners’ possession and Walcott absolutely punished them for it. Though he never found the net, his pace was electrifying and he created opportunities in the open-field for himself and others.
In the 56th minute, Arsenal finally got their second goal. After a small spell of Wolves possession, a series of 5 passes (Wilshere-Song-Fabregas-Walcott-Van Persie) spanning the entire length of the pitch, in typical Arsenal style, fell to RVP who put Arsenal 2 goals to the good. The lethal left foot was at it again this week. With the disaster of the Newcastle match fresh on the supporters’ minds, 10 goals may not have been enough to comfort them; but 2 were enough on this day. The defense looked strong again. Johan Djourou returned to the his spot in the central defense after an injury scare last week in which some thought his season could be in jeopardy. Bacary Sagna’s stock has continued to rise with another strong performance from the Frenchman. Arsenal supporters are certainly happy to see him in a Gunners shirt this season with the rumors last year of a transfer to AC Milan. He has been brilliant.
The Difference Makers
Arsenal possession was the name of the game for this match. Alex Song and young Jack Wilshere played tremendously together in front of the defense. Wilshere showed flashes of greatness and his development as an attacking mid-fielder with some dangerous runs into the heart of the Wolves defense. That said, he still looked fairly tentative to fire a shot in on-goal. As he continues to develop, that will certainly change. The Wilshere/Song tandem, alongside Cesc Fabregas maintained possession very well for an Arsenal side that looked completely dominant all game. With the pace of Walcott and the innovation of Arshavin, this was really never a competition.
Man of the Match
Robin Van Persie - His spectacular form of late continued in this one with another 2 goal performance. His impact on the Arsenal this season is one of the big reasons for their success and willingness to push United for the league title. RVP has shown an ability to finish, create his own shots, score on set pieces as well as provide opportunities for others. His dazzling form comes at a convenient time as Arsenal settle in for a showdown with Barcelona mid-week. It’s sure to be a display of top-class football.