Wolverhampton Wanderers v Arsenal: Post-Match Analysis
WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02: Bernd Leno of Arsenal is shown a red card by referee, Craig Pawson during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Arsenal at Molineux on February 02, 2021 in Wolverhampton, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

A calamitous night in the Premier League turned from domination to despair for Arsenal as they succumbed to a bewildering defeat at The Molineux.

Wolverhampton Wanderers secured an emphatic league double over The Gunners – their first since 1978/79 – to end a barren run of nine matches without victory in the division.

Arsenal’s strategic manager Mikel Arteta cut a forlorn figure as he witnessed a complete display of capitulation; after taking the league and controlling the early proceedings, two moments of madness turned the match on its head. 

  • Inexplicable offences the prevalent theme

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Arteta will likely have been dumbfounded by the dramatic shift in the matches dynamic; the resurgent outfit were triumphant in their start to proceedings, with Nicolas Pepe utilising his dazzling dribbling successfully to cut inside and score a precise finessed finish with his weaker right foot.

When David Luiz conceded the penalty and saw his third red card offense since joining The Gunners in 2019, Arsenal could remain optimistic in displaying their newfound resolute mentality and grinding out a result.

However, when goalkeeper Bernd Leno incredibly handled outside his area – leaving referee Craig Pawson no choice but to initiate the second dismissal of the night – all hopes of a late revival were immediately quashed.

The defeat was a first in eight matches for Arsenal, and the opportunity to move up to sixth in the Premier League was abruptly ended. 

Early on, Bukayo Saka had excelled once again, hitting the post and consistently troubling the Wolves defence as he continued to flourish under Arteta’s management. 

  • Nuno’s dynamic duo

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Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves; two masters of their craft, an enigmatic partnership with a seemingly innate ability to influence and prosper at the heart of Nuno Espirito Santo’s intricate system. 

The Portuguese playmakers have a consistent and irreplaceable impact for their side and remain instrumental components at the centre as Wolves look to sway seasonal fortunes in their favour. 

Neves rifled his spot-kick into the top corner with aplomb to level the match for Wolves after Luiz was sent off at the brink of half-time for a denial of a clear goalscoring opportunity.

The plaudits and attention will rightly focus on Moutinho’s speculative effort shortly after the break; the fabulous strike from 30 yards out – his first of the season – was worthy of deciding any encounter and left Arsenal with a mountain to climb.

Santo can take great comfort in a first league victory at the ninth attempt, and will serve as a foundation for the club to build on, especially with the acquisition of Willian Jose, who put in a positive performance for his side – winning the penalty and effectively providing a newfound offensive presence on the pitch.  

  • A Platform to Build On

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Despite earning a commendable victory over an inform side, Santo and his side will know the importance of remaining focused and using the positive momentum to begin a run of form that would relieve the pressure and put Wolves in good stead for a third successive top-half finish since the return to the Premier League. 

With a challenging home clash against Leicester City the next obstacle to overcome, Wolves will be encouraged as they seek successive league victories for only the second time this season.