Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pepe were the only positives for Arsenal, who imploded after a fine start to go down 2-1 to Wolves on Tuesday.
Arsenal were thoroughly dominant for the most part in the first half and made an electric start that saw Bukayo Saka smash the woodwork in the very first minute. Saka then saw a goal being ruled out as Alexandre Lacazette was offside during the build-up. The Gunners, though, did grab a well-deserved lead just past the half-hour mark.
Nicolas Pepe produced a brilliant moment of individual brilliance to dance past two Wolves players before unleashing a driven shot with his right foot to break the deadlock in the 32nd minute. Then started Arsenal’s downslide as heading into half-time, Wolves levelled things up courtesy a penalty converted by Ruben Neves, but not before a red card shown to David Luiz in a comical manner.
Post the interval, the numerical difference was telling, and moments into the second half, Arsenal were trailing as Joao Moutinho scored a brilliant long-range strike. Arsenal’s predicament then worsened when Bernd Leno was sent off in the 72nd minute for an inexplicable handball and Wolves did duly hold on to win 2-1. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Mikel Arteta’s men.
Bernd Leno: 2/10
What was he thinking? After charging forward aimlessly and overshooting his run, Leno handled the ball inexplicably and was rightly shown a red card. Was hardly troubled otherwise and could not have done anything to stop either of the goals that Wolves scored. Ruined a solid performance by that brain-fade.
Hector Bellerin: 6/10
A much-improved showing by Bellerin, who kept a check on Pedro Neto superbly for the most part while also posing some threat while charging down the right flank. Bar one or two sloppy moments, there really was not much to criticise the Spaniard for this display. Needs to build on this.
Rob Holding: 6/10
A difficult outing for Holding, especially with the change of partners midway through the game. However, the Englishman never lost his stable footing, making numerous clearances while being imperious in the air and precise with the ball at his feet. Not nearly at fault for either goal that Wolves scored.
David Luiz: 4/10
One could say that David Luiz was unfortunate to be shown a red card after slipping and bringing Willian Jose down as a result, as illustrated by Mikel Arteta’s comments on the decision. However, the fact that Luiz was in such a position in the first place raises question marks over his positioning. Needed to do better, especially with Arsenal on top till that point.
3 & 6 – Since making his @PremierLeague debut for Arsenal in August 2019, David Luiz has received more red cards (3) and conceded more penalties (6) than any other player in the competition. Calamity pic.twitter.com/TLmGdvKP4w
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 2, 2021
Cedric Soares: 4/10
With Kieran Tierney still unavailable, Cedric once again started as the left-back. This time around, though, the ghosts of the FA Cup game against Southampton presented themselves, as he was so sloppy on the ball, especially in a game wherein Arsenal needed to be more efficient as the minutes ticked by. Troubled constantly by Adama Traore on top of that
Thomas Partey: 6/10
A decent enough display by Partey, who did well to assert Arsenal’s dominance over Wolves in the first 45 minutes. Stayed solid in behind the ball for the most part post the interval as well, bar one moment when he ought to have closed down Joao Moutinho for his goal but was nowhere to be seen instead. Taken off for Runar Alex Runarsson after Leno’s dismissal.
Granit Xhaka: 5/10
A game of hits and misses for Xhaka, who was extremely solid in the first half and hardly gave an inch in the middle of the park. While not as creative as in some of the other recent games, he did boast a pass completion rate of 92 percent. However, it was a wonder that he, too, did not get sent off as he lost his discipline due to the frustrating circumstances in the second half.
Bukayo Saka: 8/10
One of two Arsenal players who impressed a great deal on Tuesday. Saka came close to scoring twice in the early exchanges but was denied by the woodwork once and an offside call the next time. Was still involved in any and every positive moment for Arsenal in the remainder of the game, but his influence understandably waned as the men started getting reduced for the visitors.
Emile Smith Rowe: 6/10
This was a game in which Smith Rowe was not as excellent as he has been in recent weeks. Having said that, he was also not helped by the circumstances, which steadily reduced his influence. Still managed a superb passing rate of 93 percent while also creating one fine chance. However, there is a sense that he could do with some rest, giving Martin Odegaard a run-out next time.
Nicolas Pepe: 8/10
Nicolas Pépé has scored in three consecutive Premier League away games:
⚽️ vs. Everton
⚽️ vs. Southampton
⚽️ vs. Wolves
Starting to prove his talent. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/rCIGIW196V
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 2, 2021
Arsenal’s unbeaten streak in the Premier League might have ended, but Pepe’s fine run of form is not showing any signs of stopping. The Ivorian also did not see a lot of the ball for the hour that he was on the pitch. However, Pepe did produce a moment of individual brilliance to skip past two Wolves defenders and hand Arsenal the lead in the 32nd minute. Needs to be given a long rope.
Alexandre Lacazette: 5/10
A frustrating first half as Lacazette was initially adjudged to have been offside when Bukayo Saka found the back of the net early on. Thereafter, the Frenchman was starved of service, as Wolves sat behind the ball for the majority of the first half. Sacrificed at half-time after Luiz got sent off.
Gabriel Magalhaes: 6/10
On for Lacazette at half-time due to David Luiz’s dismissal, Gabriel was fairly solid at the heart of the Arsenal defence and made one crucial interception apart from also making 4 clearances. Finally on stable footing, the Brazilian ought to get a long run alongside Holding.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 5/10
For those associated with Arsenal, it was a wholesome moment as Aubameyang sealed his return on Wednesday. However, the Arsenal captain never really got a chance to showcase his best skills as the Gunners were already down a man before seeing Leno get sent off shortly after his introduction.
Runar Alex Runarsson: 6/10
An emergency substitution in place of Thomas Partey following Leno’s dismissal, Runarsson made a couple of big saves to ensure Arsenal had a glimmer of hope late on. However, other than his shot-stopping abilities, the Icelandic goalkeeper was quite shaky and it is clear that he is suffering from a lack of confidence.