Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Kieran Tierney underwhelmed but Conor Coady was superb as Wolves beat Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates on Sunday.
The game was off to a sordid start, as Raul Jimenez suffered a scary head injury after a collision with David Luiz in the 5th minute. The severity of the injury forced Jimenez to be taken straight to a hospital while Luiz was inexplicably allowed to continue.
The game then took time to ebb on before Wolves broke the deadlock midway through the first half, as Pedro Neto scored from close range after Leander Dendoncker had slammed Adama Traore’s cross against the woodwork. Arsenal, though, were back on level terms shortly after, with Gabriel Magalhaes finishing off a short corner routine when he converted Willian’s cross.
However, Wolves were back in front heading into half-time, thanks to some fine work by Neto and Daniel Podence, who finished off the goal in style. Arsenal had plenty of chances to come back on level terms in the second half, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang spurning the clearest of the said opportunities.
In the end, Wolves held on to claim all three points to rise up to 6th on the Premier League table, while Arsenal are languishing at 14th after yet another dismal result. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over both sets of players following the intriguing clash on Sunday.
Bernd Leno: 5/10
Not much that Leno could have done about Pedro Neto’s strike, but he should have done better in the moment that led to Daniel Podence receiving the rebound and scoring the winner. Did make a good save to deny Conor Coady, though.
Hector Bellerin: 4/10
A night to forget for the most part for Bellerin, who was partly culpable for both the goals that were scored by Wolves. Could well have finished the game with an assist, had Bukayo Saka converted his cut-back.
David Luiz: N/A
Not fair to rate Luiz’s performance when he should not have been on the pitch after his collision with Raul Jimenez.
Gabriel Magalhaes: 6/10
The best player for Arsenal on the night. Gabriel was largely solid at the heart of the defence, although he was beaten by Podence in the build-up to the second Wolves goal. Scored the only goal of the game for Arsenal with a fine finish.
⚽️ Gabriel ends a run where the away side had scored the previous 6 PL goals at Emirates Stadium (Sheffield Utd, Leicester, Aston Villa x3, Wolves) pic.twitter.com/Ey6J2zmAln
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) November 29, 2020
Kieran Tierney: 3/10
A nightmare of an evening for Tierney, who was put to the sword by the rampant Adama Traore. The Scottish full-back struggled to cope with the pace of the Wolves winger. Could have had an assist on the other end, though.
Dani Ceballos: 5/10
Dreadful from Dani Ceballos, who just could not manage to get a foothold in the game. Overrun in midfield, the Spaniard did little to provide a forward thrust from midfield. Will hope this is just a blip.
Granit Xhaka: 4/10
If Ceballos was poor, Xhaka was even more horrendous. The Swiss international’s lack of mobility was brutally exposed whenever he tried to support Tierney against Traore. On the ball he slowed the game down, sapping the little momentum that Arsenal could ever build.
An improved display by Willian, who provided the assist for the only goal that Arsenal scored. The Brazilian had some neat touches otherwise, although he faded as the game wore on.
Joe Willock: 5/10
After a solid showing earlier in the week, Willock was back to being average. The youngster showed no control and the game essentially passed him by.
Bukayo Saka: 5/10
Back in the side after recovering from a minor injury, Saka had a game of hits and misses. The youngster created a fine chance but spurned one as well. Cannot be faulted for a lack of effort, though.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 3/10
Aubameyang’s non-penalty xG this season:
Fulham – 0.31
West Ham – 0.04
Liverpool – 0.00
Sheffield Utd – 0.05
Man City – 0.00
Leicester – 0.12
Man Utd – 0.06
Aston Villa – 0.00
Leeds – 0.23
Wolves – 0.43
𝗧𝗼𝘁𝗮𝗹: 𝟭.𝟮𝟰(𝘅𝗚) pic.twitter.com/jUzm0F8ppw
— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophy) November 29, 2020
The player to watch in our preview, Aubameyang needed to step up to the plate when Arsenal needed him to do so dearly. However, it was yet another anonymous evening for the Arsenal captain, whose lack of confidence showed when he failed to find the back of the net after rounding Rui Patricio.
Rob Holding: 6/10
On for Luiz at half-time, Holding had little to do in the second half, with Wolves not creating many opportunities.
Reiss Nelson: 5/10
Should have really made the starting lineup after a fine performance against Molde. However, Reiss Nelson did not really make an impression after replacing Willian midway through the second half.
Alexandre Lacazette: N/A
A late introduction, Lacazette hardly made an impact during his time on the pitch.
Rui Patricio: 7/10
Arsenal posed a threat as the game wore on, but Rui Patricio was hardly troubled and made just one save all game. Could not have done much to deny Gabriel.
Nelson Semedo: 6/10
One of the poorer performers for Wolves on a largely solid night. Semedo started the game well and showed good chemistry with Traore, but he was quite wasteful with the ball as well.
Conor Coady: 8/10
"To come here and win – it's a fantastic result."
Wolves captain Conor Coady praises a 'massive' performance from his team and says the club is heading 'in the right direction'…📈 pic.twitter.com/XPz6OzTT39
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) November 29, 2020
Back into the side, it was clear how important Coady is to this Wolves side. The Englishman marshalled the defence superbly, negating the influence of Aubameyang almost entirely. Had a decent chance to score himself.
Willy Boly: 8/10
Typically assured performance by Boly, who was rock solid at the heart of the Wolves defence, imposing himself on the Arsenal forwards and hardly letting an inch, bar one or two hairy moments.
Another player who was making his return, Marcal was reasonably solid defending against Willian. His defensive outlook certainly came good for Wolves in the second half when Arsenal were looking to get back in the game.
Leander Dendoncker: 8/10
Dendoncker was stationed in front of the backline and expertly provided the requisite cover. Young Joe Willock just could not get the better of him. Should have scored in the first half before Pedro Neto netted from the rebound.
Joao Moutinho: 8/10
Alongside Dendoncker, Moutinho was a solid presence in the middle of the park while pulling the strings smartly in the first period. A terrific outlet when things are getting out of hand.
Adama Traore: 8/10
Tierney endured a night to forget and that was all thanks to Traore. The Spanish international was quite simply relentless and was heavily involved in both the goals that Wolves scored. Now seems to have won his place back for good.
Daniel Podence: 8/10
Daniel Podence game by numbers vs. Arsenal:
7 duels won
5 ball recoveries
4 take-ons (Most)
4 touches in opp. box
2 aerial duels won
Another good performance. pic.twitter.com/zwIIbQrC2c
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 29, 2020
The star man for Wolves this season, Podence was on the money yet again. The Portuguese forward showed tremendous ability and skills before he scored what would be the match-winning goal. Superb otherwise as well whenever he got the ball.
Pedro Neto: 8/10
If Tierney was troubled by Traore, Neto meted out the same treatment to Bellerin on his flank. The Portuguese international left his full-back by the wayside before scoring the opener and was in his elements again before Podence scored Wolves’ second.
Raul Jimenez: N/A
Jimenez lasted just 5 minutes in the game after becoming the victim of a gruesome collision that has since hospitalised him. Hopefully, he can make a complete recovery and return to the field soon enough.
Fabio Silva: 7/10
On for the injured Jimenez, Silva was purposeful in his display and showed some promising hold-up play. Will be playing a lot more now that the Mexican striker could be out for quite some time.
Ruben Neves: 6/10
On for Podence, Neves helped provide a solid base in the dying embers of the game, as Wolves narrowly beat Arsenal to claim all three points.
Max Kilman: N/A
A late introduction, Kilman helped see the game out.