Arsenal earned three vital points in the race for Champions League football on Thursday night as they secured a 1-0 victory over Wolves at Molineux.
Mikel Arteta’s side broke the deadlock after 25 minutes as Gabriel Magalhaes reacted first to Alexandre Lacazette’s flick on inside the penalty box after Ben White initially helped the ball back into the danger zone. While Wolves tried to offer a response, they rarely created anything meaningful until Gabriel Martinelli was sent off after two fouls in one phase of play, but the home side saw their would-be equalizer goal quickly disallowed after a free kick.
The 10-men of Arsenal carved a big chance moments later, with Lacazette’s run picked out, but the forward could only put the ball wide when opening up his body. Bruno Lage’s side conjured one more promising chance with Chiquinho flashing the ball across the six-yard box, but Rob Holding’s clearance helped keep hold of a well-earned clean sheet on the night, with a win that moved Arsenal up to fifth in the Premier League.
The Gunners kept the home side at bay despite some impressive pieces of interchanging play, and that set the foundation for Arsenal’s attack to be able to transition the ball into Wolves territory. A solid team performance all-round.
Arsenal could have used the ball better when in attacking areas. They rarely looked poised to find the net after their first goal, with Lacazette squandering their best chance of the second half. The Martinelli sending-off also added to an Arsenal disciplinary record that is quickly tallying up.
Manager rating out of 10
Mikel Arteta, 7 — A positive team selection saw Arteta deploy a starting group that was balanced with a blend of defensive solidity and attacking flair, and that allowed his game plan to be executed with confidence. The introduction of Emile Smith-Rowe was well-timed, as was that of Rob Holding, who was excellent when he came on.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Aaron Ramsdale, 6 — The goalkeeper saved well from a close-range header but wasn’t tested enough over the course of the game. A save against Romain Saiss was the pick of his work in the second half, although it was relatively routine.
DF Ben White, 6 — White looked composed as he dealt with Wolves attacks, and his flick-on into the danger area was crucial in Arsenal’s goal. The 24-year-old managed to nullify Raul Jimenez.
DF Kieran Tierney, 6 — A mixed game for Tierney who couldn’t maraud too far forward due to Wolves’ wingers threatening throughout the game.
DF Cedric Soares, 6 — Struggled at times with the flair of Wolves’ wingers, though he didn’t make any glaring mistakes that led to a big opportunity being created.
DF Gabriel Magalhaes, 7 — The centre-back was among the goals after last scoring against Southampton in December, finishing off well in the second phase of Arsenal’s corner.
MF Thomas Partey, 7 — The 28-year-old prevented attacks from building up in central areas, and was often the man coming out of the challenge with the ball.
MF Granit Xhaka, 6 — The Switzerland international defended well but could have been more accurate with his passing at times. Showed good synergy with Thomas Partey when Arsenal went down to 10 to keep things tight in the middle.
MF Bukayo Saka, 6 — Saka looked to press Wolves and he produced some dangerous passes, but he struggled to find any sort of consistent rhythm in this one.
MF Martin Odegaard, 7 — Incisive passing by the Norway international in the attacking third quickly picked out Arsenal runners, and this often resulted in a team mate being able to deliver a ball towards the goal.
MF Gabriel Martinelli, 4 — Martinelli looked threatening when breaking away but his final decision too often resulted in a turnover of possession. A red-card from two fouls in one phase of play showed the 20-year-old’s inexperience.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, 7 — The 30-year-old was isolated for most of the first half, but he used the ball astutely when he did have possession, getting a vital assist for Gabriel to finish. Should have scored shortly after Martinelli’s sending off.
MF Emile Smith Rowe, 6 — Ran with confidence on the ball but could have used more support going forward.
DF Rob Holding, N/R — Quick to clear the danger and read the play exceptionally well when coming on for Saka.
FW Eddie Nketiah, N/R — Introduced for Lacazette to add energy upfront, helping Arsenal maintain some form of press.