If last week’s 4-4 draw with Newcastle was the hyperactive, uncontrollable coffee-fueled spectacle from hell, this one had calming chamomile tea written all over it. We’ve beaten Premiership teams by greater margins this season but I don’t think we’ve been so completely in control of a game as we were against Wolves yesterday.
With the first leg against Barcelona fast-approaching it was hard to get away from the feeling that this was a Barcelona-esque performance. Seven shots on target to zero indicated excellent attacking and defensive performances while the foul count of 15 to 9 showed how hard we worked to get the ball back when we didn’t have it.
We carved Wolves apart time to time again and never looked in danger of throwing away the result, a great response after last week. Even on defensive set-pieces, Wolves’ major strength our supposed Achilles’ Heel, we were utterly dominant, lead by another commanding performance by the now-unbeaten-in-27-games-and-only-conceded-one-offside-goal-in-the-last-seven-games Johan Djourou.
The pressure was on to get the result after Wayne Rooney spectacularly stole victory for the top side in the Manchester derby, but we looked in control from start to finish. I was pleasantly surprised to see Arsene Wenger select a full-strength team and it paid dividends when our two leaders, Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie, combined for a wonderful opening goal.
The wank-fest surrounding Rooney’s strike means that van Persie’s wonderful volley will probably be lost in the archives. But it shouldn’t be: unlike Rooney’s goal van Persie actually caught the ball the way he wanted — ie. on the foot — whilst the United man’s shot flew in off his shin. Seriously, watch it again. It was a fluke.
Van Persie is unbelievable goal-scoring form at the moment and achieved his third brace in the past month just before the hour mark. It was a beautiful counter-attacking goal, the sort of goal that indicates the power we have to hurt a team even as good as Barcelona, as beautiful one-touch play from one box to the other allowed van Persie to finish.
Between those two goals we had numerous chances to score — Theo Walcott and Andrey Arshavin in a particular missed easy chances while Wolves’ goalkeeper Wayne Hennessy enjoyed a good afternoon — but the result was never in doubt. Wojciech Szczesny was never called into action down the other end as our defence put the nightmare of last week behind them with a solid performance.
Our strong performance allowed the manager to rotate the team as van Persie, Arshavin and Wilshere, three players who will be hugely important on Wednesday night, made way for Marouane Chamakh, Nicklas Bendtner and Denilson. The changes did nothing to change our flow as we dominated possession and played out the remainder of the without a hitch.
In my eyes we had three objectives in this game (1) respond well to last week’s setback and get the three points (2) keep a clean sheet and (3) get through the game without any injury problems. We achieved all three and will go into the Barcelona game full of confidence.
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