Arsenal 4-1 Wolves: A performance of potential champions

Arsenal 4-1 Wolves: A performance of potential champions

Cesc and Nasri share a laugh

Note: Regular readers will know I usually post match reports on a Monday. However with Chelsea and Manchester United playing tonight I thought I would include a match report of that game from an Arsenal perspective in tomorrow’s post. Stay tuned.

Arsenal 4 (Zubar og 28, Craddock og 35, Fabregas 45, Arshavin 65)
Wolves 1 (Craddock 88)

Minute-by-Minute

Match Review

After an uneasy opening half-hour where their opponents had the better of things, Arsenal produced the sort of performance to beat Wolves that suggest that they should be included with Manchester United and Chelsea as potential Premier League champions.

The 4-1 win over Wolves was achieved despite a spirited start from the home side and without ever really hitting top gear as two own-goals and a superb third by Cesc Fabregas essentially put the game beyond doubt before half-time. Andrey Arshavin added a fourth with just under a half-hour to go in the pouring rain at Molineux before Wolves pulled back a late consolation goal through Jody Craddock’s header.

Three changes were made to the team that beat Alkmaar in the Champions League midweek with Bacary Sagna returning in place of Emmanuel Eboue, Eduardo getting the nod over Samir Nasri and Aaron Ramsey surprisingly getting a start at defensive midfield instead of Alex Song, who was given a break by the manager. An injury to Abou Diaby after twenty minutes meant the Cameroonian’s rest was cut short however, and his introduction saw Ramsey move into a more advanced midfield position.

This game had the hint of a potential banana skin for our boys and that feeling was exacerbated during an opening half-hour that saw Wolves put immense pressure on our players and created the better openings. However two or three decent headers from set-pieces was the best Wolves could manage.

Just as it looked like our boys would have to fight hard for the points we scored when Ronald Zubar put through his own net under pressure from Eduardo. Astonishingly it was two just five minutes later when Ramsey and Eduardo raced through and Craddock followed Zubar’s lead by nodding the Crozilian’s chipped pass into the net.

With Wolves in disarray we scored an outstanding third just before the break when Fabregas, Sagna and Robin van Persie combined to allow our captain to stroke home his 5th league goal of the season and end the game as the contest.

The second half was a predictably lackluster affair as Arsenal probed for more goals without ever exerting too much effort. Arshavin managed to get the fourth with a cleverly-controlled strike from outside the box while up the other end Thomas Vermaelen and William Gallas controlled the Wolves attack without breaking a sweat.

Substitute Tomas Rosicky blasted over a decent chance near the end while van Persie and Fabregas also went close. However it was Wolves who got the final goal of the game as Craddock’s clever movement from a corner saw Vermaelen bundle into Sagna and the veteran defender headed home.

Manuel Almunia was furious at the team’s inability to keep a clean sheet but in truth it mattered very little as we ran out comfortable winners and move into second on the table.

Talking Points

0-0 after 24 minutes with Wolves well on top, Diaby was replaced by Song in a move that saw Ramsey shuffled forward into a move advanced position. Ten minutes later it was 2-0. Coincidence?

Although the Diaby-haters (and Song-lovers!) will argue the opposite the answer to that question is unquestionably ‘yes’. The reshuffle had absolutely no influence on an opening goal which knocked the stuffing out of a Wolves side that had worked their socks off and perhaps deserved the lead. From that point on playing with a cushion allowed our boys to take control of the game and go on to win comfortably.

I think it would be overly convenient and incorrect to say that Ramsey struggled in the defensive midfield role early on or that removing Diaby from the midfield changed the game. In fact, had the first gone in with Song still on the bench I would argue that we would have gone onto win the game by a decent margin regardless. All conjecture and hearsay, I understand, but worth thinking about for people who look for too much reason in a game that relies on moments of luck and chance far more than we like to admit.

Sagna continued his attacking resurgence with another excellent cross to set up the third goal. While it may not go down as an assist the Frenchman’s controlled pass for van Persie was right on the money and allowed Fabregas to score. With Gael Clichy struggling to have an impact going forward before his injury and the inexperienced Kieran Gibbs mostly focused on getting his defensive positioning correct, Sagna’s attacking contributions down the right have been as important as any member of the team in the last few games.

Final Thought

If Manchester United and Chelsea draw tonight and we win our game in hand, Arsenal will be top of the Premier League. What more can I say?

Have your say on Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Wolves by leaving a comment.

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27 Responses to “Arsenal 4-1 Wolves: A performance of potential champions”

  1. Jammathon
    November 8, 2009 at 5:57 pm #

    While I’m still standing by what I’m saying re: Diaby on Third-Gen, I think you’re right to point out that we can never tell what’s going to happen over a ninety minutes and yes, it’s almost always conjecture. Like whether Almunia would have got the nod over Fabianski, eh? πŸ˜‰

    Good write up, good read.

  2. frank kitchiner
    November 8, 2009 at 6:19 pm #

    Thank goodness Song replaced Diaby this made all the difference and this young man gets better and more mature every game.

  3. TheSKAGooner
    November 8, 2009 at 6:24 pm #

    Good write up, Andy. As always. πŸ™‚

    Regarding Gibbs, yes he’s focusing mainly on his defensive positioning and Sagna is picking up the slack so to speak in going forward, I must say that on several occasions Gibbs showed fantastic pace on the left yesterday and got well in towards the box. He has that in him. True, none of his runs led to any goals and I want Gibbs primarily focused on his defense, but I would also say that he does have the capability to be adept in supporting the attack from the left when he can. His crossing still needs work, which can be said of almost all our defenders really, but he did have some nice runs in along with Sagna.

  4. Darragh
    November 8, 2009 at 6:26 pm #

    I agree with you Andy. Ramsey’s repositioning created more opportunities. I would say that if Song had started along with Diaby, a similar game would have occured. It wasn’t Diaby that caused the stagnation in the first 30 mins, it Ramsey’s inexperience to break down the play in Arsenal’s half that gave Wolves some opportunities.

  5. kelvin gunner
    November 8, 2009 at 6:30 pm #

    Let’s not get carried away . Wolves are not a top quality team. If the gunners can beat Chelsea maybe it could be the gunners year.The gunners defence still goes awol at set pieces .
    When the grounds start to become heavy as it will soon,the passing of the gunners can be slowed down. Allied to this we will have Song and a few other guys away.
    If the gunners continue to win then we could banish the hopes of 2007-08.

  6. Shane
    November 8, 2009 at 6:40 pm #

    This was no doubt an experiment by the mad professor. But we saw midweek against alkmaar that Ramsey’s defence is not his strongest point. He is an adequate defender, yet not a solid one like Song. But in saying that, his attack is excellent. And he is proving to be a very mature player. This kid is going to be big. And so is Fran Merida. The two will be fighting for spots in time to come.

    In saying that wolves are not top class opposition, it would not be incorrect. Yet what it is that is making this team look to be a winning side is, that we are doing what we should have done in the last few seasons. We are beating the easier opposition, and we are doing it well. Man U lost to Burnley, Chelsea to Wigan. Last year united, who ended up becoming champions lost to liverpool twice, and Arsenal once. But they beat the other sides which we did not. Fullham, Hull etc

  7. Hao
    November 8, 2009 at 7:07 pm #

    putting three attacking midfield is a big gamble. We were clearly struggling to organize an efficient defense. I believe Song should be sent on regardless Diaby is injured or not. The problem is when the AFC starts. Who else can cover that role?

  8. fanner
    November 8, 2009 at 7:32 pm #

    Song changed the game after he replaced Diaby. Wolf started to struggle when Song was on the pitch, we were lucky not because of the first goal, we were lucky that Diaby is injured. Let’s hope his injury prolong…

  9. Old Timer
    November 8, 2009 at 7:50 pm #

    That’s a very fair and intelligent summing-up as ever, Andrew.
    Personally I thought our lads did really well and I am very very pleased with that result. Mick McCarthy was as good as his word and Wolves really took the fight to us – but you know what? We handled it well. And this is the new thing about Arsenal now, that when the game’s not being played on their terms they can battle and grind out a result – to use a cliche.
    Also neither of the own goals were glaring errors by the defenders. The defender was under intense pressure from Eduardo for the first and I don’t think the defenders header actually changed the flight of the ball that much for the second. It may well have gone in anyway. To put it in a nutshell they soaked up the pressure and then hit them bang bang – game over. They also had to overcome the Molineaux roar and wet and horrible conditions. All done. Well played everyone. MOM – Ramsey.

  10. kalemba hassan
    November 8, 2009 at 8:04 pm #

    a very seemingly stable and confident wolves team-hosted arsenal and using the same prescription as it used on one big team whose name is kept un mentioned for security purposes,they forgot that arsenal cant help to be stopped netting goals,you can even help them score[own goals] thatz over now,we focus on tonights game to see where the results out of it will drop us.

  11. radads
    November 8, 2009 at 8:57 pm #

    Hi Andy,good post my friend !! congrat!!
    Yes, Song’s introduction was one of they key of our win yestday.Ramsey and fab had more space and confidence on their midfeild attack as soon as Song came in.Oppositely, Ramsey has been found as an Inexperienced DM during the 1st 30mn while Diaby was still on, just bcos none of the two lads can protect the midfld area like the way Song does it,Inexperienced defensiv Ramsey and cpt Fab had to come deep to do Diaby’s job while Diaby is in front without knoiwng what exactly to do, and to me, thats how we got pressured by Wolves in the 1st 30mn of the game.
    Another talking point that i d like to point out as well is the frustration of Eduardo, i dont know if you guys have noticed this but i see Dudu a bit frustrated on his finishing touch lately (which is not usually his style), I saw many chances given to him and Im talking about a real good ball to finish up but ha cant just finish it.why?? may be match fitness!!, he shud have passed that ball back to Ramsey or RVP yestday while the defenders were drawn to him, that shud have been a beautiful goal instead of an own goal, we had 3 Arsenal players in front of a GK and a single CB.
    I also see Arshavin a bit frustrated lately, my guess is : just bcos he doesnt get the ball as often as he wants and most importantly, I see Arshavin desperately wanting to control all our attack after Fab, and trying to put himself on the scoresheet on every single game.Which isnt bad at all to me but I think he has to accept and not getting hiomslef frustrated when the game dont go on his way cos Arsenal play on team basis,anybody can score goals on our style of game cos thats the arsenal way of play.

  12. Passenal
    November 8, 2009 at 10:11 pm #

    I disagree that the introduction of Song made the difference. The first goal came from a set play and once Arsenal scored Wolves threw players forward to try to get the equalizer and we hit them twice on the counter-attack. That knocked the spirit out of Wolves and gave us the confidence to control the rest of the match and take the points.

    Wolves made it clear they were going to attack and we weathered the storm well even before the introduction of Song. Song is a good player, but he should not be used as a stick to beat another player with. It was not that long ago that people were claiming he was not good enough for the Arsenal, now some are suggesting we can’t win without him?

    Arsenal has never been a one man team. If any first choice player is missing he cannot be replaced like for like as we do not have clones in the squad. Arsene will shift the way we play to suit the personnel available.

  13. Johno
    November 8, 2009 at 10:41 pm #

    Unfortunately I have only been able to watch the few minutes shown om Match of the Day so I am really unable to comment much.

    What concerns me though is that once again we gave a goal away in the final minutes of the game.

    So far only the two given away against The Hammers has mattered but I suspect that we will lose points if this worrying trend continues.

  14. tom dixon
    November 9, 2009 at 12:06 am #

    a dread every november but so far dis year lookin good gunners great 2 watch hope d keep it up

  15. utch
    November 9, 2009 at 12:19 am #

    It was a good game,the only problem seems to be loss of concentration towards the end of games.Aside that i think things are looking up this season.

  16. henrykissinher
    November 9, 2009 at 3:22 am #

    a couple of things to say.
    loved the match yesterday very accomplished win without the team gettin out of third gear.

    people saying that it was ‘only’ wolves are forgettin that these are the types of matches we would have lost or drawn the last couple of years and the games against the so called big four arent what we will be judged against because we are not playing chelsea and united every week.

    We will miss song during the ACN because he is a quality player and would be missed by any team but hopefully denilson will be back and can pick up some of the defensive slack with diaby or Ramsey, which brings me onto the young welsh man who i thought was magnificient in yesterdays match. he was full of running and endeavor, alright there were a few miss placed passes but for his age he is some prospect, his close control and confidence to take and keep the ball all over the pitch is admirable and his passing is excellent, my man of the match. he may not be a defensive midfielder but a good all rounder.

    and lastly is any of the rest of ya sick of these feckin international breaks i mean for feck sake (being from northern ireland they hold very little interest for me). the only consolation is that arsenal havent seemed to suffer far from them.
    cheers

  17. Ian
    November 9, 2009 at 7:10 am #

    I just watched Chelski beat manure utd earlier and to be honest I think we can certainly match, if not out pass and out play either of those sides. Ramsey is maturing quickly and deserves his chance. Song is on top of his game and we will sorely miss him when it comes down to the African Nations Cup. All in all a lot more positives than negatives!

  18. Ian
    November 9, 2009 at 7:11 am #

    PS this reply a bit early for you Aussie boys I’m afraid?????

  19. Andy @ Arsenal FC Blog
    November 9, 2009 at 10:58 am #

    I find it a little odd that a few people are still saying that the introduction of Song changed the game. I tried to make it quite clear in my article that I feel it didn’t and that the first goal in particular had nothing to do with the substitution. At 1-0 up we were in control and the midfield got on top, although I think that would have happened without Song assuming we had a one-goal cushion.

  20. Andy @ Arsenal FC Blog
    November 9, 2009 at 11:02 am #

    @ Ian – Just watched Chelsea v United. Am going to post my thoughts on that game in a special post today.

  21. William Smith
    November 9, 2009 at 12:58 pm #

    The Chelsea game highlights the inconsistent displays of referees. Terry barged into VALENCIA AND THERE WAS NO PENALTY.It was similar to the one at OT when Fletcher clattered into Ashvin.The FA shd shd look into this and is it a case of refs being intimidated by the home team.
    A time will come when the gunners will get decision not in their favour eg: a two footed challenge in the box with no penalty.
    What I would like is for the gunners to win even though they don’t play well. This ithe hall mark of champs. It maybe alien to AW’s philosophy of the beautiul game but that’s the way to go if you want to win a trophy.

  22. Thierry
    November 9, 2009 at 1:09 pm #

    Aw says he is not worried about the defence. Well he maybe trying to divert attention from players he has earmarked to buy for the defence.If he doesn’t ,he better know the other epl teams aint going to be so liberal in their thinking and let the gunners have time and space on the ball.
    Sooner or later the gunners are going to be a goal or two down thanks to the defence that often goes to sleep at vital moments in the game.
    Then what. All out attack will be committing hara kiri. Its easier to prevent goals than to score and by then it will be too late to rescue a point or get three points.
    I hope I’m wrong but the defence still bothers me by conceding late goals like in the WH game.

  23. arcalterego
    November 9, 2009 at 1:28 pm #

    Most Arsenal fans fail to remember that we have to play Chelsea before we play our game in hand. Now with Chelsea being 5 points ahead, we need to beat them AND win the game in hand to go top.

    I feel more confident in Arsenal’s ability to beat Chelsea this season but Drogba is in scary (and ugly) form. Let’s hope the lads come through the international break relatively unscathed and that the referee decisions in the game with Chelsea are fair (i’m living in dreamland, i know) or go our way.

    I’m trying to change my dislike for Diaby to at least a neutral emotion, but he doesnt make it easy to say the least! What will we do without Song in January??

  24. Graham
    November 9, 2009 at 9:39 pm #

    Good performance. Ramsey got better and better and song was immense when he came on.

    My videos and pics from the game are available here:

    http://www.twitvid.com/4D6BF
    http://www.twitpic.com/on1t2

  25. harrison
    November 10, 2009 at 1:16 am #

    wenger should now work beating chelsy.its a must win game after losing to man u and man city

  26. kingsley
    November 10, 2009 at 10:27 pm #

    I only have one comment, it is about the boys inability to keep a clean sheet, mustthey concede in every match, espes about our boys inability to keep a clean sheet, must we concede in all matches, especiallt against newly promoted teams like wolves,at least they should do better against sunderland.

  27. kingsley
    November 10, 2009 at 10:34 pm #

    wenger should work harder now, cause chelsea is a must win

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