Match Report: Arsenal 1 – 1 Wolves

Arsenal (1) 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers (0) 1
Premier League
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Saturday, 2nd November 2019. Kick-off time: 3.00pm

(4-2-3-1) Bernd Leno; Calum Chambers, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, David Luiz, Kieran Tierney; Lucas Torreira, Mattéo Guendouzi; Mesut Özil, Dani Ceballos, Alexandre Lacazette; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Hector Bellerin, Nicolas Pépé, Emiliano Martínez, Joe Willock, Sead Kolašinac, Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka.
Scorers: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (21 mins)
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 58%
Referee: Michael Oliver
Attendance: 60,383

Forget all of the brouhaha of the match at Anfield on Wednesday evening; today is our bread and butter. Nothing less than a win will do, as we desperately need to keep up the pressure on the top four clubs and reduce the five-point gap between Chelsea and ourselves. Having said that, whatever pre-match instructions that must have resonated from the coaching staff into and through our players’ heads appears to have been quickly forgotten in the first quarter of an hour or so of this important match against the boys from the Black Country.

Our team were literally all over the place, seemingly just giving the ball away in senseless situations, thus creating all kinds of problems for ourselves when there appeared to be no need to do so. The visitors’ busy midfield and attack pressurised us constantly and consistently during this period, and one could feel that the mood in the stadium (from our supporters) was rapidly becoming one of impatience followed by absolute horror. Somehow, literally out of nowhere, after twenty-one minutes, we had found a chink of light at the end of this painful tunnel. In one of our rare early forays into the Wolves’ half, Alexandre Lacazette found an unmarked Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who unceremoniously whacked the ball past Rui Patrício and into the bottom right hand corner of the net to give us the lead.

There’s nothing like a goal in front of our home crowd to wake us up, is there? A few minutes later, Lucas Torreira was desperately unlucky not to score, and despite Wolves counter-attacking on the break on several occasions, both Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came extremely close to adding to our lead. Mesut Özil and Dani Ceballos were working together well during this period to provide chances for our strikers, and although the visitors tried desperately to catch us on the break, (thus calling the safe hands of Bernd Leno to be brought into action), it was us that went into the half-time break in the lead, and to be fair, slightly fortunate at times to be doing so. Thank God for the safe hands of our goalkeeper.

Speaking of which, Bernd Leno was utterly immense in the opening minutes of the second half, with crucial saves undertaken from Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez that could have had dangerous consequences for us. Just after Alexandre Lacazette blasted the ball over the visitors’ crossbar following one of our rapid counter-attacks, he was substituted for Gabriel Martinelli on the hour. Why? Surely we need both of our strikers on the pitch against this kind of opposition? And the decision shows. A little while later, Calum Chambers was unfortunate not to score (from a Mesut Özil corner) when his goalbound header was kicked away by Matt Doherty.

And then suddenly, with fourteen minutes’ left on the clock, guess what? Boom boom, out go the lights. Just after Lucas Torreira was substituted for Bukayo Saka, we lost concentration after a simple throw-in and just allowed Joao Moutinho to loop a cross deep into our penalty area, only for Raul Jimenez to head the ball into the net for the equalising goal. Go figure. Anyway, to our credit, we dusted ourselves down and pressed forward to try to find the winning goal. And in return, Wolves sensed their chance had arrived too, with some dangerous play that came close. With a couple of minutes left to play, Sead Kolašinac replaced Kieran Tierney, and ramped up the pressure on Wolves, but despite four minutes’ injury time, and some unfortunate shooting on our part, a draw became the order of the day. And at that point, the boos and catcalls from our supporters echoed around the stadium.

Another poor performance as part of another disappointing match, in which we were unable, yet again, to hold on to a lead. Bad choice of substitutions at critical points in the match that changed our formation also cost us the game as well. Why wasn’t Nicolas Pépé used against Wolves today? We needed his vision and skill in this match! The most damning statistic is that Wolves had 25 shots at us today, with eight on target; we had ten shots with four on target. What on earth is going on and what can be done? We are going backwards, instead of progressing, where all of our rivals are all advancing; our next Premiership match is against Leicester City next Saturday. If we lose that game, all hell will break loose, as at the moment, we look anything but a top four team. Where are we going? This could easily get worse before it gets better. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Vitoria SC at Estádio D. Afonso Henriques on Wednesday, 6th November at 3.50pm (Europa League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Steve

Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.

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