Arsenal 2-1 Wolves Match Report

Wolves’ trip to the capital ended in devastating fashion as two late goals punctured Wolves’ top four hopes. With both sides gunning for the Champions league places, it was the Gunners who came out on top, [providing a comfortable cushion from the chasing pack. Wolves were the outside bets to crash the top four party this season, but a loss at the hands of Arsenal all but managed to eliminate these chances entirely. 

This was unfortunately a result that we deserved, another opportunity missed, for me. Bruno started with a positive line-up, bringing Hwang in for Dendoncker in what otherwise, was an unchanged side. Bruno seemed to trust the Neves and Moutinho partnership rather than overloading the middle of the park, providing an opportunity for Hwang Hee-Chan to force himself back into contention following an injury lay-off. 

Similarly to the Spurs visit, the early Wolves press forced a mistake from the opposition back line, resulting in a dream start for Lage’s men and the travelling supporters as Wolves took the lead after just ten minutes. However, highlights for wolves were few and far between from this moment, there was a particularly alarming gulf in the quality of passing from either side. Arsenal managed to zip the ball around with confidence and accuracy, whereas Wolves opted for the unattractive long-ball tactic, to no avail unsurprisingly. 

One key reason for the little success was due to another poor performance from Raul Jimenez. Once again, the Mexican looked way off the mark, as every ball into him left at the feet of an Arsenal defender. This became increasingly evident as Raul was our out-ball, Traore’s departure means that Raul’s hold up play is prioritised when managing difficult away fixtures, but nothing was sticking. Missing a gilt-edge opportunity to put us in a commanding two-goal lead doesn’t help his argument to start either. This begs the question: what can Fabio Silva do to gain another run of starts in the Premier League? Wolves are currently competing in one competition, the Premier League. If Silva’s chances to start are limited to cup competitions only, the pressure of Jimenez’s performances is simply lifted. Silva’s cameos have displayed that currently, there is more to his game than our number nine. He holds the ball up, links play effectively and appears to have a great partnership with Daniel Podence, our man in form. 

Wolves have developed quite the reputation for stubborn defensive work and great game management this season, but last night’s showing reflected the game management of a certain Portuguese manager previous. Winning the ball back deep in our own box and launching hopeful balls that just invites more pressure. Typically, this tactic is adopted late on in the game to see a dogged performance to the end, seeing this from the 30th minute demonstrated such a lack of inspiration or belief to take the game to Arsenal. Heartbreak at the end, but a hugely disappointing performance. 


Key moments 

Wolves fans must have thought they were in dreamland after five minutes when Saiss poked home from an offside position during the second phase of a corner. Despite being disallowed, this provided momentum for the away side to attack the Gunners. As a result of the effective early press, Gabriel was forced to pass back towards his goalkeeper, and the loose ball was pounced on by the incoming Hwang Hee-Chan, who smartly rounded Ramsdale before slotting home from a narrow angle. 

Bar Hwang’s fine finish, clear cut chances were hard to come by, the only real one of not was Jimenez dragging a perfect opportunity well wide of the post. Aside from that, it was one way traffic in favour of Arsenal, and deservedly got their equaliser through Nicolas Pepe, with a brilliant turn and finish, in a sea of old gold. Wolves’ heartbreak was then secured after a Jose Sa own goal – mishandling a tame effort from Lacazette in the 95th minute, sending the Emirates into raptures.


Man of the match – Rayan Ait Nouri 

With an abundance of below par performances, finding a man of the match proved difficult. In a game of negative tactics, there were some real moments of positivity displayed by Rayan Ait-Nouri though. Whilst not all his forward runs resulted in a chance (sometimes conceding possession), it was welcome to see someone being confident on the ball, instead of opting for the easy punt up field with zero direction or intent to hit someone in gold. With Semedo unfortunately pulling up with a hamstring injury, there will be added onus for Rayan to inspire attacking phases, but a responsibility I think he’s more than mature enough to carry. Another good showing from our number 3. 


Things to improve on 

Another vital fixture is just around the corner, back to London for West Ham United. Again, a six pointer for those fighting for European football next season. In my opinion, bold changes are needed – the first of which being Fabio Silva in for Raul Jimenez. Raul hasn’t looked right all season, and five goals should not be an acceptable case to retain his position in the starting eleven. Secondly, win the midfield battle. It provides additional security whilst maintaining control of the tempo, something that was desperately missed against Arsenal. 

Simply not good enough, a reaction is needed. Onto the Hammers.


Sam Beeken is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him here


Arsenal 2-1 Wolves – Player Ratings

Wolves fell to a gut-wrenching late defeat at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday evening after a 95th minute Jose Sa own goal gave Arsenal their second victory of Bruno Lage’s men in just three weeks. Wolves started extremely well and took the lead through Hwang Hee Chan after just twelve minutes. However, Wolves failed to sustain their good start and were under pressure for most of the game. Despite all the possession, Arsenal created little in the way of clear-cut chances but drew level through Pepe with eight minutes to go. Just as the game looked to be closing out with an impressive draw for Wolves, Lacazette got the better of Romain Saiss, whose deflected effort was guided in by the outstretched arm of Sa. It was the worst possible way to lose a football match, but Wolves only have themselves to blame.


Jose Sa

An unusually nervy display from the Wolves shot stopper who did not look comfortable throughout the game. He came for a cross more than once but failed to claim and gave the ball away far too easily with his long distribution. He did pull off several good saves to make amends and could do little more with Lacazette’s late deflected strike. 6/10


Max Kilman

A solid defensive performance from Max Kilman who even had the acclaim of the Wolves fans in the second half. He, like many others, struggled to deal with the Arsenal press meaning Wolves lost possession in dangerous areas. 7/10


Conor Coady

Like Kilman, Coady was relatively solid throughout, but struggled to get a foothold in the game to keep possession. His surging run forwards in the second half was desperately unlucky to be pulled back for a ‘foul’ on Ben White. 6/10


Romain Saiss

Saiss struggled to deal with the pace of the Arsenal back line at times but often recovered with a last-ditch tackle in the area. He will be disappointed with his part in both goals as Lacazette got the better of him in the area. 5/10


Nelson Semedo

Dealt with almost everything that came his way defensively without having any real impact on the game with the ball. He was withdrawn on the hour mark with a hamstring injury. 6/10


Joao Moutinho

A poor performance from Moutinho who struggled with the pace and intensity of the game in the middle of the park. Wolves could not keep the ball in any area of the pitch but were also far too easy to get through in midfield. A game that perhaps highlights the lack of recruitment in midfield in recent transfer windows. 5/10

Ruben Neves

Failed to live up to the heights of recent performances, but this was no different to many others on the pitch. Neves tried to get on the ball and make things happen, but it simply would not stick for Wolves. He certainly tried to win the ball back wherever possible, but the Arsenal midfield were often too strong. 6/10


Rayan Ait-Nouri

One of Wolves’ better players on the pitch despite a few defensive mishaps. Looked to get on the ball wherever possible and wanted to get forward during the second half. His dangerous run in the final five minutes teed up Pedro Neto was a huge chance to win the game. 7/10


Daniel Podence

Wasn’t for the want of trying but Podence struggled to have any real impact on the game, not helped by the inability of his teammates to keep the ball around him. 6/10


Raul Jimenez

There was certainly some warranted criticism for Jimenez after another sub-standard performance. He has failed to kick on from his goal against Tottenham and this was a big contributing factor to Wolves’ poor performance. 5/10


Hwang Hee Chan

Easily Wolves’ best player on the pitch whose endeavour to press Arsenal high up the pitch and win the ball back in dangerous areas led to almost every chance Wolves created. He got his deserved early goal and could easily have had a second early in the second half. 8/10



Jonny Castro Otto

A very welcome sight to see Jonny back on the pitch after his injury nightmare in the past two years. He played at right back replacing the injured Nelson Semedo and was solid for his half an hour cameo. More importantly he looked sharp and match fit, a huge boost for Wolves in the final third of the season. 7/10


Pedro Neto

Desperately unlucky not to put Wolves back in front with just minutes remaining in an effort that should have resulted in a corner. He was lively and, like Jonny, will be a massive boost for Wolves in the closing stages of the season. 7/10


Leander Dendoncker

Played the final moments of the game as Wolves tried and failed to hold on to their point. N/A


Ciaran Barker is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him on Twitter here.

Steve Bull Stand

Wolves 0-1 Arsenal Match Report

A frustrating evening ended as Wolves fell 0-1 to Arsenal in an important fixture under the lights at Molineux. The Arsenal defence faced an onslaught in the final period following a red card, but Wolves were unable to capitalise on the opportunity. With both sides on the hunt to consolidate their ambition for European football, it was the visitors who left with all three points – much to the disappointment of Wolves. 

A minor calf issue for Joao Moutinho saw Dendoncker line up with Neves in a midfield two, with a re-introduction for Romain Saiss, after his great showing at AFCON. Raul Jimenez started up top with Trincao and an in-form Daniel Podence. In a similar vein to his current form, Podence was the bright spark for Wolves during the first half, drawing many a foul with his trickery and intelligent movement. Trincao and Jimenez on the other hand, struggled to stamp their authority on the fixture once again – marshalled out of the game by White and Gabriel, in a very confident showing from the Arsenal pair. It was particularly frustrating that Wolves failed to target booked players, with both Xhaka and Thomas Partey cautioned within the game, I was surprised to see the lack of action through the centre of the field.

Possession seemed a key factor for Wolves, as the home side held much of it, but having very little in terms of chances on goal to show for it. Arsenal seemed relatively comfortable with allowing Wolves time on the ball, as the home side were causing little panic for their defensive unit. Even after a red card for Martinelli’s petulant fouls in the same passage of play, Wolves severely lacked any creativity to unlock the Arsenal defence. The contest was even overall, with neither side having too many chances to write home about, but it was the red card that allowed the visitors to sit back soak up the remainder of what Wolves had to give. 

Arguably Wolves’ biggest game of the season so far, and it feels like a huge opportunity missed. The away side went down to ten for the final twenty minutes, and all Wolves could conjure up was a barrage of crosses, defended simply by the visitors in what looked like a training drill. A chance missed to close the gap on those ahead, and a chance missed to cement our bid for European football next season.


Key Moments 

Wolves had built a good reputation for not conceding set pieces this season, but four set-piece goals have been conceded from the last four fixtures. This time, succeeding a scramble in the goal mouth, Gabriel poked home for the Gunners in the 26th minute. A disappointing manner for Lage’s men to concede after some decent spells of possession during the first period. Clear cut chances for either side were few and far between, with both goalkeepers having an easy day at the office. Gabriel Martinelli managed to change the complexion of the game within fifteen seconds, with a childish display of fouls resulting in Arsenal’s 101st dismissal of the Premier League era. Unfortunately, Wolves’ feeble attempts to equalise left much to be desired, as Arsenal comfortably sailed towards an important away victory. 


Man of the match  – Daniel Podence

There was precious little to choose from for standout performances, the attacking movement was lacking, midfield was conservative, and the defensive unit failed to keep out the Gunners’ only decent opportunity. Daniel Podence was a livewire during the first half, giving Cedric Soares nightmares, with the Arsenal defender somehow escaping a booking. Podence looked like the only one attempting to fashion a different opening than an aimless cross that as simply headed away. In a game where we didn’t cause trouble for Arsenal, one man did. Another deserved mention for the little man, in a hugely uninspiring front line. 



You could be blind and still see Wolves are in dire need of creativity. Whether this be from a new, dynamic midfielder that can unlock defences, or a change in attacking patterns, an alternative is needed. We’ve become too predictable again, sideways passing towards the wingbacks, before a cross is fired in that doesn’t clear the first man. When it does? No-one is there to attack it. The push for European football is still possible, but points are needed desperately from the February fixtures.


Sam Beeken is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him here