Wolves 3-1 Arsenal: Gunners top four hopes take hit after woeful West Midlands display
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Arsenal’s chances of finishing in the top four took a big hit on Wednesday night, after a wretched display at Molineux saw the Gunners beaten 3-1 by an excellent Wolves side in the Premier League.
The Gunners were in need of a response after the disappointment of Sunday’s 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace, knowing a win would get their top four chase back on track, but it was quickly derailed by a first-half hammering in the West Midlands.
Ruben Neves fired home a wonderful free-kick with 28 minutes gone, before the lead was doubled when Matt Doherty headed in a cross that Bernd Leno failed to collect.
Diogo Jota made it three in the dying moments of the first-half to compound a miserable opening 45 minutes for Unai Emery’s hapless side.
Arsenal saw most of the ball in the opening 25 minutes, but failed to find the final pass and threaten the home side despite some neat build-up play.
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It was Wolves who had the best chance of the first quarter of an hour though, created through the direct route of a long throw flicked on by Willy Boly, but Raul Jimenez couldn’t hook his effort on target under pressure from Sokratis.
Despite seeing little of the ball, Nuno Espírito Santo’s side struck first with 28 minutes on the clock.
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Nacho Monreal fouled Jonny as Wolves marauded forward on the counter-attack, and Neves stepped up to take the free-kick, striking a dipping 25-yard effort beyond an outstretched Leno to put the home side ahead.
The Gunners had their best effort with 34 minutes played when Alexandre Lacazette fashioned a chance all on his own, bringing down Granit Xhaka’s long ball forward on the right, twisting and turning to beat two defenders before firing over inside the area.
It was a missed chance that Arsenal would be made to regret when the hosts doubled their lead following some questionable defending and goalkeeping.
A short corner was floated in by Jonny and as Arsenal stood and watch, Doherty drifted in behind, beating a flailing Leno to the ball to nod into the net and leave Emery’s men stunned despite all their early possession.
The Gunners were flat and shaky at the back, with the home side smelling blood as the half continued.
They struck a killer blow with the last kick of the half when the visitors gave the ball away in midfield and Jota sprung forward, evading the challenge of Henrikh Mkhitaryan before firing through the weak hands of Leno to make it 3-0 at the break.
It was a first 45 minutes that harked back to the darkest days of Arsene Wenger’s reign, with Arsenal - despite seeing a lot of the ball - creating very little and being hopelessly exposed defensively.
Wolves sat behind the ball after the break, but had very little to do in the way of defending as Arsenal’s flat and laboured performance continue.
They looked threatening on the break too, with Jimenez having their best chance for a fourth on 68 minutes, flashing a shot wide of the far post.
So bad was The Gunners performance, it took them 80 minutes to register their first shot on target, but it was one they scored from as Sokratis headed home a consolation goal from Granit Xhaka’s corner.
There was no way back for Emery’s men though, whose pitiful performance sees them stay fifth, with another difficult away test at Leicester City next up on Sunday.