Arsenal won a hugely tricky away fixture against Wolves 2-0 on Saturday, making it four in a row in all competitions for the team.
Sitting six points ahead of Arsenal going into the game, Wolves were on a great run of form. Since football’s return, they’d won three matches in three, scoring four times and conceding none.
In fact, they hadn’t conceded a goal at home in all competitions since they lost 2-1 to Liverpool in January. They certainly aren’t an easy side to break down.
Arsenal had some trouble in the first half as a result. Though they had a lot of the possession, they didn’t have many chances. An Eddie Nketiah snapshot saved onto the post was the closest they came in the first 40 minutes.
However, Bukayo Saka broke the deadlock with an expert half-volleyed finish, following a deflected cross from Kieran Tierney. That gave the team something to work with in the second half.
Arsenal clung onto their lead through the second period, with one or two close escapes. Eventually, substitute Alexandre Lacazette scored a rare away goal to kill the game. Let’s have a look at our player ratings for the match.
- Emi Martinez 7.5 – Only made one save, but he had a few other key moments in the match. He claimed a couple of high crosses confidently, and his run out to meet Adama Traore may just have put the winger off enough to make him miss a one-on-one. Distributed the ball well, but the long balls weren’t too effective.
- Shkodran Mustafi 7.5 – Occasionally he and Luiz were a little frustrating on the ball, but they both did excellently defensively. Mustafi also confidently won a key header near the end to set Arsenal on the attack for the second goal.
- David Luiz 7.5 – As above, looked really solid at the back despite the first-half yellow card. Arsenal haven’t conceded a goal with Luiz on the pitch since he shot himself in the foot against Manchester City.
- Sead Kolasinac 6.5 – Definitely had some good moments, making a lot of interceptions (five) and tackles (four) against a tough opponent in Traore. He also fell asleep twice to let players in behind on his side, though, relying on Tierney and Martinez to bail him out. Plus, he lost far more duels than he won (five of 14).
Midfield and Wing-Backs
- Cedric Soares 7 – Nice diagonal ball to Aubameyang in the build-up to the opening goal, slotted back into the defence very effectively. Didn’t really combine too well with Saka, perhaps understandably so.
- Dani Ceballos 7 – Put in a shift, but didn’t have close to the same impact as against Norwich or Sheffield United. Still, most of his work at both ends was solid.
- Granit Xhaka 7.5 – After some recent strong performances in possession, this one was perhaps more notable for what Xhaka did out of it, shielding the defence really well.
- Kieran Tierney 8 – Helping Kolasinac out against Traore, Tierney did excellently, winning all of his attempted tackles and making five clearances. He didn’t lose a single duel on the ground. Also, he helped set up the opening goal. You have to assume the only reason he came off was that he’d run himself ragged for the clean sheet.
- Bukayo Saka 7 – Fresh from his new contract, it really was an excellent finish for the opening goal. Made even more impressive by the fact he struggled for most of the half before that. Right-wing doesn’t suit Saka as well as the left, but he gave his all and made it work for the team.
- Eddie Nketiah 7 – Only really had two half-chances, hitting the woodwork with one and heading just over with the other. Neither were easy chances at all, so he did as well as he realistically could.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 7.5 – Put in another shift, covering back when necessary and trying to stretch Wolves defensively. Created a fantastic chance for Willock in the final minutes when he could have gone for goal instead.
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles 7.5 – I saw all the social media protests at taking Tierney off, and to be fair, he was playing really well. But Arteta made the choice to introduce some fresh legs and Maitland-Niles was the perfect player for the job. His four tackles matched any Arsenal starter, and he played a big part in killing the game off.
- Hector Bellerin 7 – Made a couple of good tackles, an interception, a clearance and won his only duel in the air. Like Maitland-Niles, mostly came on to add fresh legs to replace a hard-working wing-back.
- Joe Willock 7.5 – Arteta’s go-to man when trying to kill off a game at the moment, Willock did more than just add another body in midfield this time. He got forward well and assisted the second goal, and should’ve one of his own if not for a goalline clearance.
- Lucas Torreira 7 – Finally back from injury, it was great to see the midfielder out there racing around and causing Wolves problems in possession.
- Alexandre Lacazette 8 – Took his goal in the kind of clinical fashion we haven’t seen from him since the restart. A smart first touch took it away from the defender before a well-placed finish gave the goalkeeper no chance. Also held the ball up well in his 10 minutes.