Arsenal summon spirit of resilience

Would the break make Arsenal rusty? Would Wolves be more match-fit after the visitors’ 18 days without a match.

How would Arsenal compensate for no Aubameyang?

Could Arsenal score against the second-best Premiership defence after 7 hours without a goal?

Arsenal answered these with a resilient display reminiscent of some earlier season performances.

Alex Lacazette: Proud of the team

Irony in Martinelli’s red card, the fourth in six matches, 15th under Arteta (and the 101st in the Premiership), despite the Spaniard saying it is something the team is working on.

But an unbiased observer on the touchline would ask what effect does the manager’s wild gesticulations have on the players? The fouls for reds aren’t malicious – more petulant and some could stem from Arteta’s behaviour. And it is a blind spot for the Spaniard. He said he is running out of ideas on how to deal with the problem.

But the Dubai trip seems to have forged an increased unity and the red, instead of triggering panic, forged an increased togetherness.

Cedric was in for his first start since September. Leno was out with Covid.

Trinciao was back for a front three. Moutinho, once linked with a move to Arsenal in more than one window was out with a calf problem.

Arsenal exploited the space behind the Wolves backs – on the right in particular with Martinelli in menacing form. Wolves came in with some sneaky fouls.

Cedric sent in a good cross missed by Lacazette, but Martinelli won the corner. White won the second ball Lacazette poked it past Sa and Gabriel was on the spot to tap home. It was the first goal from a corner Wolves had conceded all season.

Wolves don’t score many. It augured well.

Partey was unlucky to get booked for a trip on Trincao. Saiss who racked up four fouls was booked for a late challenge from behind on Odegaard.

Saka, and Odegaard linked up beautifully to find Lacazette – who fired straight into Sa’s midriff raising concerns over the lack of genuine number 9.

Xhaka let the ball bounce, with cover behind him. and pulled Trincao’s shirt – for a yellow putting his team in unnecessary trouble.

Too many times there was space on the wings for Wolves to cross. By the end they had racked up 35. But their execution in the area was poor.

Neves lunged at Lacazette and increased the yellow card count for this game – but it was not that malicious. Gabriel added to the mounting count getting booked for timewasting with only two thirds of the match left.

Martinelli, thinking he was tackled unfairly, pushed Podence during a throw in and then chased Oliviera half the length of the pitch and scythed him down – expecting maybe a yellow – but certainly not a red.

Arsenal went 5-3-1 with Holding on for Saka.

Gabriel sent a brilliant through ball to Lacazette, creating a one on one with the goalkeeper, but he sent the ball wide.

Ramsdale flipped a cross away, and Saiss sent a rocket tipped over by the ex-Sheffield United man.

Nketiah came on for Lacazette – for his fifth sub appearance but didn’t do much.

Oliveira beat Tierney, crossed and the overhead from Jiminez ran across the Arsenal goal-line with Holding, on as a substitute clearing a header off the line.

Jiminez missed a cross from Podence and Xhaka all too readily miskicked into his own net – saved by the offside flag.

Lacazette said: “It means a lot for us. We were disappointed after Burnley. We used break to work a lot – and today we show a lot of positives. We know set pieces are important and we work a lot on them.

“It is always stressful to see these games when it is 10 v 11. But I’m proud of my team – we handled it well. I am really proud. Wolves showed some good quality to cross. Everyone at the back did their job.”

Mikel Arteta said, “It was tough against a very good team. We made it more difficult with 10 men. The result is positive. But we suffered in 20 last minutes.”

On the sending off; “I’m running out of ideas. I’ve never seen anything like it. To win games with 10 men is unlikely.

“We showed character to dig in and showed a lot of spirit. We had unity and togetherness in the group.”

Wolves manager, Bruno Lage said: “We were the better team. The tempo was good. We managed well and created a
lot of chances.”

On the Arsenal goal, he said: “The player kicked Sa’s hand – it is clear.”

Premier League: Wolves 0 Arsenal 1

Wolves:1Malheiro de Sá, 23Kilman, 16Coady (Substituted for Fábio Silva at 81’minutes), 27Saïss (Booked at 36mins), 22Nélson Semedo, 8Neves (Booked at 60mins), 32Dendoncker, 5Marça (Substituted for Aït-Nouriat 63’minutes), 11Machado Trincão (Substituted for Tomás Oliveira at 62’minutes), 9Jiménez, 10Podence

Arsenal: 32Ramsdale, 17Cédric Soares, 4White, 6Gabriel (Booked at 61mins), 3Tierney, 5Partey (Booked at 33mins), 34Xhaka (Booked at 45mins), 7Saka (Substituted for Holding at 71’minutes), 8Ødegaard (Substituted for Smith Rowe at 68’minutes), 35Martinelli (Booked at 69mins), 9Lacazette (Substituted for Nketiah at 81’minutes)