Wolves 1 – 4 Arsenal
Eduardo (2), which were own goals, Cesc, Arshavin
The line up was similar to the last game – but Song was rested and Sagna in for Eboue, with Eduardo coming in for Nasri…
Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Gibbs
Ramsey – Diaby
Arshavin – Cesc – Eduardo
With a bench of Mannone, Eboue, Silvestre, Senderos, Song, Nasri and Rosicky.
Don’t let the score let you think this was an easy game. It wasn’t. Wolves came out guns blazing and for the first 15 – 20 minutes, they had the game – they had possession, and they had the chances. But we defended well and our unit was resilient. We had some cameo’s going forward, but nothing of note.
The main change of the game was when Diaby got injured on the 23rd minute, and Song came on for the Frenchman. We did seem more comfortable with the Cameroonian player in front of our back four and within 5 minutes of him arriving on the pitch, we were one nil up. Not because he was on the pitch so much, but maybe because the other players became freer, or maybe because Wolves got tired after their great first half of the first half.
The first goal came through a corner when Cesc whipped the ball over, and Eduardo prodded it goalwards, it felt like our first real attack of the game. The ball seems to ricochet off Wolves defender Zubar, so it probably goes down as an own goal. One became two quickly and it was that man again Eduardo who applied a finish to a counter attack when both Ramsey and him broke free against Craddock. The ball hit the Wolves player, so again, it goes down as an own goal.
Before the end of the game, it was 3-0, and it was a brilliant run by Sagna, an excellent cross to Van Persie and an even better lay off to Cesc, who finished with aplomb… the scoreline did flatter us to be honest, but we were good for the lead by the end of the half.
In the second half, we took our foot off the gas, and it didn’t have the intensity of the first – don’t get me wrong, it was a great second half, with attacking intent from both sides, but clearly at 3-0, it was also more subdued in terms of goal intent. We did get the fourth through an excellent shot from Arshavin. Cesc swung a corner over and it ricocheted out to the Russian, who first time, on the half volley, accurately place the ball to the left of the keeper.
It was unfortunate at the end to concede, but Wolves did deserve a goal through their attacking intent anyhow, but a timely reminder that it’s not always easy to keep a clean sheet.
The win takes us above Manchester United and into 2nd place, and it all hangs on tomorrow’s game to see how far off the top we are, with Chelsea and Man United playing at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are currently on 27 points from 11, we’ve on 25 from 11 and Man U are also on 25 from 11. A 0-0 draw would suit us down to a tee, and a win in our game in hand would send us to the top of the table.
Arsene reflected on the games tomorrow and spoke about the big win:
“It [Chelsea vs United] will be very interesting, yes. A draw is fantastic for us. But the most important thing is that it is a good game, it is too early to calculate too much. Is it good or bad to win? Let’s hope it is a good game and enjoy it. You enjoy it always when you have won your game!”
“We were already out of it last year. Two years ago, we were very close to winning it, and people forget that. And last year we were out very early because in 14 games we had lost five. Now it is very different. We are in a strong position because we have a game in hand. Let’s keep strength in our belief, keep humility, and enjoy our game.”
“I wouldn’t discount Liverpool at the moment. The problem we had last year, the others had not lost two. Now everybody has lost two, so the difference with Liverpool is not as big.”
Arsene spoke about the quality of the game, the pressure we were under and the counter attacking skills we had:
“We had chances, we had been under pressure in the first 10-15 minutes and after that I felt we controlled the game. Overall we could have scored many more. We know that on every counter-attack we looked dangerous and as soon as we could win the second ball and put it on the ground, we looked always capable to play through their lines and score goals. I feel that where we were maybe a bit surprising when we came here we expected to suffer on set-pieces, to not necessarily to score on set pieces, and that’s what happened on the first corner. Apart from that, we controlled the game.
And he also took time out to praise Aaron Ramsey, whom personally I thought had a great game. I think he excels next to someone like Song, as he’s very creative and a good dribbler.
“He’s 18 years old and people forget. I set him a target to play between 15 and 20 games this year. So at some stage when you set a boy a target you give him a chance. When we play every three days, I rotated it a little bit because I believe we have a real squad of 20 field players who are of a fantastic level and you can talk and talk and talk, but you have to do it on the pitch as well and give them a chance. He has improved a lot. He has a tremendous engine and he already has good experience for an 18-year-old player.”
So, just as I return from my International travels, we enter an International break, which means I don’t get a chance to watch a game until the 21st November – away against Sunderland, and my next home game will be on the 24th Nov against Standard Liege. I’ve missed three home games in a row against Liverpool, Sp*rs and AZ, and three terrific games too – I’m not a happy man!
But in all honesty, I couldn’t have asked for better during my absence… well done to the boys, sitting pretty in the league – let’s hope Chelsea and United draw tomorrow and don’t score, and maybe have a brawl, a few red cards and a few suspensions… nice.