Wolves vs Arsenal result: Five things we learned as Bernd Leno’s error costs the Gunners

Wolves 2-1 Arsenal: A pair of red cards cost Mikel Arteta’s side after a fine start at Molineux

Ødegaard's back-heel assist in Arsenal training ahead of Man United

1. Arsenal squander fast start

Wolves held clear the air talks in a bid to salvage their season earlier this week, but those words did little to stem Arsenal’s thundering start on Tuesday evening. It was a case of quality and confidence, carried exquisitely on the ever-widening shoulders of Bukayo Saka, whose volley struck the post after just 38 seconds in a warning shot at Molineux. Unfortunately, Wolves failed to heed it. Soon afterwards, Saka pounced on the ball and fired a terrific drive into the far corner off his weaker right foot. This time, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were saved by a marginal offside call on VAR.

Be it third time lucky or simply the inevitable, Arsenal did eventually break the deadlock and, perhaps the only surprise was that it was not Saka but Nicolas Pepe, whose Arsenal career seems to have finally caught wind. It was a devastating and skilful finish, struck with the weaker right foot Pepe normally treats as though it’s a foreign object, curling into the far corner after nutmegging one defender. It was a deserved lead and, for a while, it seemed as though Wolves might be blown away in a gale completely.

2. Luiz red leaves Arsenal in the lurch

No matter what defences are mounted of David Luiz, who did desperately attempt to avoid contact, his recklessness on the brink of half-time changed the course of this match irredeemably. It was not, though, his fault alone. Beyond the amounted stoppage time, a collective lack in concentration allowed Willian Jose to break through on goal. The contact between him and Luiz was not just minimal but purely accidental. Yet, having attempted to get out of the way rather than retrieve the ball, Luiz not only conceded a penalty but was sent off, too. It might have felt harsh, but then Luiz has made enough similar mistakes to know the letter of the law. Ruben Neves finished the penalty exquisitely and Arsenal were left to fight against a tide.

David Luiz is sent off

3. Moutinho steals Neves’ limelight

It was the type of blistering strike Wolves have come to expect from Neves, but this time it was Joao Moutinho who stole the limelight. From a considerable distance, the midfielder was left without pressure, perhaps because even Arsenal considered it a long shot too far. The shot, though, was exceptional, veering violently in the dreadful, drenched conditions, burning past Bernd Leno’s fingertips, and clipping the inside of the post. It came just four minutes into the second half, forcing a depleted Arsenal side to open up and attack and Wolves, in turn, to counter.

4. Jose gives Wolves structure and threat

It was easy to point out the glaring flaws in Wolves’ slump, having failed to win any of their last eight league games prior to tonight, but much of their toil is rooted in bitter misfortunate. Raul Jimenez’s horrific injury not only deprived the club of their goalscoring talisman but also their structure, with Fabio Silva not yet ready to play the role of a typical No 9. In Willian Jose, signed on loan from Real Sociedad, Wolves appear to have found a perfect replacement. The Brazilian held the ball up brilliantly, won the penalty, stung Leno’s palms with a fizzing shot, and even displayed the subtle flicks to belie his stature, with one particularly cute backheel coming so close to setting up a decisive third.

Joao Moutinho celebrates his superb goal

5. The tragicomedy of Leno

Few red cards occur in quite such tragicomic circumstances as Leno’s mindless foray. A chipped ball over the top did not initially seem precise enough to provoke panic but then this is Arsenal on an off day and so nothing is truly out of the question. Misjudging his charge out the box, Leno simply seemed to run too far, missed the ball with his chest, and scooped it out of play with his trailing arm. It denied Traore a goalscoring opportunity and in a flash Arsenal were down to nine men, already penned back, and now with all their hopes lost. It was a disheartening end to a game Arsenal could have killed off early in the first half. Instead, Wolves finally bared their teeth and ended their slump. On balance, it was well earned. 

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in