Arsenal survive late scare to go four points clear with Wolves win

Arsenal edged out Wolves 2-1 to maintain their spot at the top of the Premier League table in a game that looked like it was all wrapped up after 13 minutes. But a lapse in concentration from the Gunners allowed Matheus Cunah to peg one back for the home side as Mikel Arteta’s men survived a late scare.

Arsenal get off to flying start

Despite Arsenal’s stellar start to the 2023/2024 campaign, there have been criticisms levelled at Mikel Arteta’s men for their dip in quality up top. Last season, the Gunners were only beaten by eventual champions Manchester City for team goals in the Premier League but heading into matchday 14 they sat sixth behind Liverpool, Brighton, Newcastle, Aston Villa and Man City in sixth.

The main driving force behind their successes this season has been their exemplary defensive work. But during their first half against Wolves, it was their fluidity in attack that really stood out.

The north Londoners were in cruise control early on as they went 2-0 in 13 minutes courtesy of Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard. For the opening 45 minutes, the front three of Saka, Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli clicked beautifully while Odegaard terrorised the Wanderers’ backline as a box-crashing midfielder. However, Arsenal took their foot off the gas in the second stanza, allowing Wolves back into the game with a Matheus Cunha brace.

Trossard is Arsenal’s new Xhaka?

Part of the reason for Arsenal’s decline in attacking numbers has undoubtedly had to do with the departure of Granit Xhaka, who was so pivotal to the north Londoners’ successes last season. Arteta has rotated multiple players into the left-sided No 8 role throughout the campaign but none have been more successful than Leandro Trossard.

The versatile forward is usually deployed as a left winger but in recent fixtures, Arteta has played the tricky Belgian in the centre of the park. Against Wolves, his link-up play with Martinelli was excellent. At times he did get absorbed in the game but for a player appearing for only the second time in a new position, he is showing serious promise.

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Wolves missing Neto

Wolves were very flat in the creative department against Arsenal. Hwan Hee Chan and Matheus Cunha had their moments but they ultimately lacked sufficient service without Pedro Neto bombing down the right flank.

The Portuguese star had been outstanding before he picked up a thigh injury last month. Luckily for Wolves fans he will be back soon.

“Pedro is back on the grass and doing some running with the fitness guys. It’s going well; he won’t play again this Saturday, but we’re hopeful to get him back in with the group fairly soon.”

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