Arsenal shot themselves in the foot in their bid for a top-four finish with an embarrassing defeat to Wolves.
In the aftermath of the Crystal Palace defeat, Unai Emery calmed the nerves of Arsenal fans by suggesting the club’s bid for a top-four finish is in their own hands. Not so much now after their embarrassing defeat, although the manager is still defiant on those chances. The Wolves game was their game in hand over Chelsea, who on Monday moved a point above Arsenal with their draw against Burnley.
It was Arsenal’s chance to take a slender lead over Chelsea, which they terribly missed, although they’d be grateful to Manchester City who defeated Manchester United, which kept the Old Trafford side relatively behind the Gunners. On to the game against Wolves, Arsenal were the better side in the opening minutes, although the kind of chances they created did not have the finishing quality in the final third.
After giving away an unfortunate free-kick outside the box, Ruben Neves ensured Wolves took full advantage of it by scoring the opening goal. Soon, Wolves would go on to double their lead through Matt Doherty, who continued his scoring spree, while Diogo Jota punished Arsenal’s sloppiness and scored the third before half-time.
All throughout the second half, Arsenal were seemingly in search of a response, but couldn’t find any, although Sokratis did score a consolation goal around the 80th minute, but to no avail. Arsenal succumbed to back-to-back victories in games they were expected to win; instead, they have mishandled their advantage in the top-four race, allowing rivals to take a step forward.
Here’s how Arsenal’s players rated in their hapless defeat at the hands of Wolves.
Bernd Leno – 3
Such a dismal performance was coming. After playing brilliantly in so many games now, Leno did look like a typical Arsenal keeper on the evening. He could have done better for all three goals, instead let himself down. First with his positioning for the free-kick, similarly for the second, while he could definitely have saved the third, but instead made a half-baked attempt.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 7
Did well upon his return to the side after being benched for the last game. Was probably the best player on the pitch for Arsenal on the evening, bailing out teammates from dodgy situations, while being defensively solid to not give Jota too much room on his side. Fantastic performance from the versatile star.
Sokratis – 5
The higher rating is only for the consolation goal he scored. His inclusion was supposed to help Arsenal shore up their defence, but it was as worse as in the last game. The only difference with Sokratis was that the defence could take collective blame for the Wolves game rather than individuals, but overall he should have done better to marshal the backline.
Laurent Koscielny – 5
Did not do anything wrong throughout the game; didn’t do anything right either. Played out a dull game where there definitely was a lack of communication and command with teammates, or else Arsenal would not have conceded three goals, especially in the manner in which they did it.
Nacho Monreal – 5
Unfortunate with conceding the free-kick that led to Wolves’ opening goal. Otherwise, Monreal could be considered better than the rest in the Arsenal backline for much of the game, but would starting Kolasinac have been the better choice?
Granit Xhaka – 3.5
Not good enough on the evening. A total lack of control of his midfield coupled with his errors for the first and third goals is something that cost the team. Additionally, Xhaka’s over-reliance on his left foot often slowed down the passing speed whenever Arsenal had the ball, but overall he was not good enough to start games like these.
Lucas Torreira – 4
Horrible outing, but still better than his midfield partner. Torreira indeed found it difficult to set a tempo and gain a foothold in midfield, coupled with erratic passing, in a way never gave Arsenal a chance to control the midfield.
Mesut Ozil – 3
Ozil’s performance against Wolves showed why Emery has been reluctant to pick him for away games. No contribution whatsoever, no creativity, lack of leadership and more importantly showed no desire to do anything to salvage the game. Gave Emery every reason to drop him for the next games.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 3
Showed no enthusiasm to create anything from his side, no desire to take his team forward. Easily passed by the opposition, not allowed to dribble and unable to create any clear cut chances for his teammates. A total lightweight on his side.
Alex Iwobi – 3
It was evident he tried. But every time he tried, the opposition were on hand to rob him off possession. Unable to create anything of substance and did not make a case to start the next games. Arsenal dearly missed Aubameyang on his side.
Alexandre Lacazette – 5
In his usual hard working stride, but due to a lack of service slowly phased out of the game. Cannot be blamed for the result but needs to be more involved to make an impact in the next few games.
Matteo Guendouzi – 5
Not the best substitute option when the team needs goals but played his part in making things happen. Tried to play forward passes, but for most parts was robbed of possession and was not able to create the impact Emery would have wanted.
Sead Kolasinac – 5
Did Arsenal miss him in the starting lineup? From an attacking point of view yes, but he certainly was unable to change the course of the game when he came on as a substitute.
Eddie Nketiah – 5
Ran around, tried to make things happen, like all substitutes, but putting so much pressure on his young shoulders was not the best thing to do. He does have promise for the future.