Arsenal (1) 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers (2) 2
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Sunday, 29th November 2020. Kick-off time: 7.15pm
(4-2-3-1) Bernd Leno; Hector Bellerin, David Luiz, Gabriel Magalhães, Kieran Tierney; Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka; Willian Borges da Silva, Joe Willock, Bukayo Saka; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Alexandre Lacazette, Alex Rúnarsson, Rob Holding, Cédric Soares, Reiss Nelson, Mohamed Elneny, Eddie Nketiah.
Scorers: Gabriel (30 mins)
Yellow Cards: Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 56%
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistant Referees: Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett
Fourth Official: David Coote
VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR Andre Marriner; AVAR Sian Massey-Ellis
Attendance: A maximum of 300 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restrictions
Okay, let’s not put too fine a point on it, we need to win this match against Wolverhampton Wanderers today, and win well. Our only goal in 476 minutes of Premier League action was against Manchester Untied back on 1st November, and we now have a mere thirteen points after nine matches; historically our lowest points tally after ten Premier League fixtures is fourteen, back in 1992-93 and 1994-95. Let’s go!
The match started off in a lively manner, with the visitors having the best of the early play. After five minutes, there was an extemely bad head clash between David Luiz and Raul Jiminez after an Arsenal corner. David Luiz was patched up and continued with the match, but Raul Jiminez was stretchered off and taken to hospital for concusion assessment. The match continued after ten minutes, with both sides looking flat after the injury to Raul Jiminez, and after a while, we started to play with purpose and desire. Wolves, however, proved difficult to break down and just before the half hour, Pedro Neto opened the scoring for the visitors; their lead did not last long however. Just three minutes’ later, Gabriel levelled the scores with a superb header from a cross via Willian. The goals livened the match up, and a little while later, Bernd Leno was called into action after a Wolves corner, when he saved a strong header from Leander Dendoncker, and this preceeded a period in the match when both sides squandered chances to score. In the ten minutes’ injury time, the visitors took the lead when a shot from Pedro Neto was parried by Bernd Leno, only for the quickness of Daniel Podence to jink the ball past three Arsenal defenders to stroke it into our net. Time and time again we were getting caught out by long balls, not to mention our backs being exposed by Adama Traore and Pedro Neto, with the defence looking stranded at times. Our best chances came when we managed to catch the visitors on the rebound, but as half-time beckoned, we can look upon this half as forty-five minutes of wasted chances.
As expected, Rob Holding replaced David Luiz for the second half, and we started in a lively manner. Arsenal looked better and created one or two good chances in the first five minutes, and as the game levelled out, both sides were trying to find different ways through each others’ defensive systems, which proved more than difficult. Willian went close with a free-kick ten minutes after the restart, and as the match went on, it was becoming obvious that we were getting nowhere, fast. Willian was substituted for Reiss Nelson after sixty-three minutes, and as is often the case after a substitution, the team are lifted by the presence of a new player on the pitch. Some good movement by our chaps outside the Wolves penalty area, saw the ball fall to Reiss Nelson, who blasted it over the bar, and this period in the match saw us create some good chances for ourselves with clever passing movements. With ten minutes of the mtch remaining, Alexandre Lacazette replaced Granti Xhaka in a final attempt to get the equalising goal. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came extremely close to scoring a superb header, and as we applied pressure on the Wolves goal, our considerable attempts were there for all to see, but it made no difference in the end, despite all our efforts and pressure, for the third Premier League match in a row, we finished a game with nothing to show for all of our hard work.
This match will always be overshadowed by the awful Raul Jiminez injury in the fifth minute, but this aside, it was an extremely disappointing evening for us overall. As much as the play moves well in the midfield areas, there are still question marks at the back, and upfront, in the bread-and-butter Premier League, we are just not firing. What is to be done? Our position in the Premier League is disgraceful for a club of our stature, and somehow Mikel Arteta is going to have to square this circle quickly. We travel to Tottenham Hotspur next Sunday for the first North London derby of the season; heaven forbid for the wheels to come off then, especially there of all places. We pray.
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: Rapid Vienna at Allianz Stadion on Thursday, 3rd December at 8.00pm (Europa League). Victoria Concordia Crescit.
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.