By Walter Broeckx
Arsenal team at the start : Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac; Torreira, Xhaka; Iwobi, Özil, Aubameyang; Lacazette.
On the beach: Cech, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Nketiah
All stood up in silence to hear the always impressive Last Post and an even more impressive minute of complete silence to commemorate the end of WWI today 100 years ago before the match would start.
A very silent opening 10 minutes in line with the pre match silence one could say Arsenal having most of the ball but not really in a high tempo. Kolasinac with a ball between two Arsenal players in our own half with Xhaka letting the ball run and Wolves can intercept. And in 3 passes they carve open the defence and Cavaleiro can score from close distance. 0-1 after 13 minutes. Another goal given away by Arsenal. 72% possession for Arsenal in the opening 15 minutes but nothing to show for it.
Finally a good attack but Bellerin can’t get his foot around the cross from Kolasinac. Arsenal twice having the chance to equalise but the shot from Lacazette and Iwobi was blocked by lots of defending bodies. Wolves counter but Leno makes a great double save risking his life and almost losing his head. Wolves defending with all they can. Leno again with a good stop when Arsenal not clear their line in a convincing way. Arsenal again having to defend when they lose the ball in their own half but this time Mustafi can clear. Bellerin with a shot that looked goalbound after a corner but again a body in they way. Still 0-1 behind after 30 minutes.
Arsenal still playing too slow and not finding any spaces in the packed Wolves defence. The first assistant who saw already two wrong throw ins in favour of Wolves calls Iwobi back for offside when he was onside as there was a defender at the other side. Just when for once we had a bit of space. Arsenal having a poor first half and Wolves defending in high numbers for 95% of the time but countering sharp when they can. Leno was our best player in the first half and this is telling the story so far. Arsenal go in 0-1 down after 45 minutes.
Guendouzi started in the second half in the place of Iwobi. Guendouzi with a first shot but not too difficult to top for the keeper. Arsenal keeps going forward and Wolves not really getting out of their half. Torreira with a dipping shot but the keeper pushes it over. Still 0-1 after 60 minutes.
Mustafi with a good sliding block on a low cross from Wolves to prevent a Wolves goal on a rare counter. Attacking wise the ball always falls kindly for Wolves. Crosses that get deflected can mostly be cleared in front of Arsenal players. The passing just not good enough to break down the packed defence. Wolves in full time wasting mode now and no reaction from the ref and no yellow card for shirt pulling either. Özil then gets a yellow card for throwing the ball to the ground. A low cross finds Bellerin but his left footed shot sails over the crossbar. Doherty also gets a yellow card for a swing of the arm against the face of Xhaka. Even Attwell now trying to waste time with having the free kick retaken… A bit chance for Arsenal with Bellerin with the low cross but the goalpost saves Wolves from the equaliser as the shot from Aubameyang hits the post. Helder Costa gets a yellow card and then goes down to win time much to the furstration of Xhaka. Ramsey comes on after 74 minutes in the place of …. the 4th official winning extra time with messing with the board in the place of Özil and Mkhitaryan comes on for Kolasinac. Still 0-1 down after 75 minutes.
Bellerin gets a yellow card for holding his opponent. Arsenal continue to press but not getting through the defence and then Wolves counter but Leno makes a vital stop. Ramsey picks up a cross from Guendouzi but the keeper with a vital stop. Arsenal get the the corner and it goes to Mkhitaryan and his cross finds the back of the net to the surprise of everyone. GOAL! 1-1 after 87 minutes.
Doherty then goes down with a head wound. Probably the first real injury from a Wolves player today. Only 5 minutes indicates the 4th official and the treatment of the headwound goes on for minutes on the field. Wolves counter and Traore is one on one with Leno but again the keeper saves the day with a great block. A cross from Xhaka almost finds Lacazette but he didn’t expect the missed interception from the defender. Wolves with a counter and his kick hits the crossbar.
We didn’t play good enough to win today and we never got in to our rhythm against a Wolves that used every trick in the book of defending but also showed how dangerous they can be on the counter attack. Let us hope that after the international break we can start again with fresh legs. Our undefeated run continues but that is only a small consolation after todays bad match.