Wolves 0 Arsenal 2

Saka 43, Lacazette 86

Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette were on target as Arsenal came through a tricky away Premier League fixture against Wolves. The West Midlands’ side had recorded three wins out of three since the lifting of the lockdown, however the Gunners produced an all-round team performance to record their fourth consecutive win and another Premier League clean sheet. Mikel Arteta has got his players up and ready for a situation he inherited last December. Results and morale were poor, however the former Arsenal player is beginning to see the results of his imprint, and the results suggest the upturn will continue.

 

Saka had signed a new long term deal in the week, and he was quick to show his commitment to the cause again at Molineux. Cedric Soares found Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from deep on the right. The Gabon striker instinctively knew that Kieran Tierney was up and to his left. Tierney’s cross was slightly behind Saka, but he made the adjustment to put his boot to the ball with more a precise shot rather that power, and Rui Patricio was beaten.

Saka’s goal was his first in the Premier League for Arsenal. Aged 18 years 303 days, he is the second youngest English player to score in the Premier League for the Gunners, after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against Blackburn in February 2012 (18 years 173 days)

The energetic Eddie Nketiah had earlier surprised Patricio with a rapid fire shot which the Portuguese cleared onto his post and way for a corner.

Adama Traore has been a revelation for Wolves this season and his powerful surges kept Granit Xhaka and Sead Kolasinac in particular, very busy. Traore should have levelled when he was one on one with Emiliano Martinez from Diogo Jota’s pass, but the Arsenal keeper came rushing off his line, forcing Traore to lift the ball over the bar.

Wolves hadn’t conceded in over 400 minutes of play, and they were being held by a resolute display from Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz, Tierney and Soares. It was from a strong Mustfai header that Arsenal doubled their lead four minutes from time.

Substitute Joe Willock raced away deep on the right to find Lacazette. His first touch nullified Conor Cody, and with his second, he buried the ball in off Patricio’s upright for Arsenal’s second. Willock could have grabbed a Gunners third, but Ruben Neves cleared off the line

Arteta was in no doubt how this victory ranked since his arrival at Arsenal.

“That is probably one of the best because of the difficult schedule that we had compared to them in terms of the recovery. And for how well they have been doing for the whole season and because of COVID-19. To come here and win the way we have done today is not an easy thing to do, it’s another step forward in our process so I am really happy today,” he said.

There was no margin for error noted Arteta with games against Leicester and Spurs on the immediate horizon, as the Gunners aim for a European football spot.

Arteta elaborated on why he elected to use Saka as a striker, given that Nicolas Pepe was absent, awaiting the birth of his first child, but given that Saka has been used him in unaccustomed  left back position  this season, the Arsenal head coach was further impressed with the versatility of his 18 year old player.

“Well, I had a lot of doubt about what to do before the game. So the moment we have a situation with Nico, it was clear. I was trying to find something with Bukayo in that position. It is true that in the first half he had some moments where he struggled but then he started understanding things better after 20 minutes. He scored a really good goal.

Arteta has seen Arsenal win four games in a row

Arteta has seen Arsenal win four games in a row

“He’s very neat when he gets in the opponent’s box, whether that’s to produce an assist or finish an action. I think the move was really good too. He was in the right spot at the right moment and it was a very important goal.

“I really liked the way he kept trying and trying and trying rather than putting his head down and being disappointed.”

Arteta also praised his side’s third clean sheet in a row at a time when goal difference becomes even more crucial. Mustafi was singled out for his contribution.

“You can see all the teams that are in the title race, that win the championship, the amount of clean sheets that they need in order to do that. The more we improve here, the more solid we are, the more chances we are going to have to win football games. It’s simple, obviously we still have a lot of things to improve in our attacking patterns, the way we use the spaces, the way we read the other team, but that will come. This was down to 11 players defending every time the ball was at the opponents’ feet.

“We try to help every player to improve, first of all to feel that we trust them. They can make mistakes, of course, but if they are willing and they are happy to try again, I think they will get the rewarded and Musti’s attitude, his training, attention levels, the questions he’s asking and how much he wants to help everybody has been really good since I joined. I think it’s a consequence of his performances.”

Arsenal have now won three consecutive league games without conceding for the first time since November 2017. This is the first time the Gunners have won back-to-back away league games without conceding since October 2015

The win was also Arsenal’s first away league victory against a side starting above them in the league table since September 2015, when they won 5-2 at Leicester.

Arsenal next host Leicester City on Tuesday.