Arsenal 1 Wolves 1

This was not the result many had expected, and when Wolves were reduced to ten men after Nenad Milijas saw red for a lunge at Mikel Arteta, Arsene Wenger especially would have felt that Arsenal would prevail. As with many visiting sides to the Emirates however, the ‘keeper had one of those games that can only be described as inspirational. Time and time again Wayne Hennessey kept Wolves in the game and especially for that last few minutes when Robin Van Persie and Thomas Vermaelen went agonisingly close to giving Arsenal what would have been a deserved victory. With the way they were set up, Wolves deserved something from the game , and having seen many of these types of frustrating games at the Emirates in the recent past, it is up to Wenger and the players to figure out how to crack such determined opponents.

Perfect pass

It had all gotten off to a flying start for the Gunners. Wenger gave Thomas Rosicky, and after his first Arsenal Premiership goal at Villa Park, Yossi Benayoun also started. Theo Walcott had been ruled out due to sickness, but no matter. On eight minutes the home side went in front. Rosicky raced away on the left and found Benayoun in support in the middle. Benayoun slotted the perfect pass for Gervinho who intelligently side stepped his marker and Hennessey to find the target. Per Mertersacker had earlier blocked Mathew Jarvis, as Wolves sensed that another outing for Arsenal’s makeshift defence could be their source of joy.


Not shy in going forward, Vermaelen looked comfortable at left back and saw his shot blocked when clear. Van Persie remains three goals away from breaking the Premiership goal scoring record in a calendar year, and here the attentions of Roger Johnson and Christophe Berra were against him. When the Holland striker robbed Karl Henry, Arteta saw his effort blocked. Just on the half hour mark, an under pressure Van Persie did well to stay on his feet and his shot was going in, until Hennessey pulled of one of the many fine saves he was to make.


Without really troubling the Arsenal defence, Wolves found an unlikely leveller. Djourou managed to clear from a corner, but still Stephen Hunt got a shot away that was going wide, until a deflection took it to the head of Steven Taylor. His header took Wojciech Szczesny and the Arsenal defence by surprise, but the ball fell just inside the upright. Arsenal’s response was swift, as Arteta and Rosicky saw shots that Hennessey comfortably dealt with, but you sensed Arsenal would respond with a second goal.


Wave after red and white wave lay siege to the Wolves defence, but the combination of some strange decisions from referee Stuart Atwell, Wolves defending and the ‘keeper were to deny Arsenal. Vermaelen was yellow carded when appealing for a penalty – replays showed Hunt did handle the ball. Hennessey then kept out Mertersacker’s towering header and moments later Van Persie from a free-kick. Alex Song showed his frustration as he lashed out at Fletcher, a yellow card was produced, when it could have been red on another day.


It was Song’s last action as Wenger replaced the Cameroon power house with Aaron Ramsey. Soon after his introduction, the Wales captain won the ball to set up Rosicky, and his effort should have found the target, but flew wide. Hennessey and Wolves were under sustained pressure and having Milijas see red was not going to help. With ten minutes remaining, the ‘keeper again kept out Van Persie and from an acute angle, his legs kept the scores level. His only flaw came with a yellow card for the Wolves ‘keeper awarded for continual time wasting. Six minutes of time added on did not produce an Arsenal winner as Wolves just sat back deep in numbers. When Vermaelen surged away of the left, he powered his way to one on one with Hennessey. Once again the Wolves’ keeper held firm with another save.


It was to be an afternoon of frustration and missed chances that cost Arsenal the chance of fourth place in the Premiership. Putting their chances away has been a continual Achilles heal at the Emirates. Had they done that here, three points would have been assured.