Real Signs Of Progress Under Arteta As Gunners Win At Wolves

Online Editorial: Three points on the road as Arsenal keep another clean sheet

Real Signs Of Progress Under Arteta As Gunners Win At Wolves

Players celebrate Bukayo Saka’s first half goal

This was the first of a sequence of four matches that have been looking ominous since even before the lockdown stopped football matches for three months. And it was a pleasant surprise to see Arsenal win with a performance that can give us some optimism for the future under Mikel Arteta.

Given the gap to fifth place, and indeed the possibility that Manchester City might be able to wriggle out of their two year UEFA ban at CAS during the week, Champions League qualification looks over the horizon, but the financial significance of making the Europa League should not be underestimated given Arsenal’s modus operandi – which is self-sufficiency.

The win at a near-deserted Molineux was certainly not expected, even allowing for the Gunners’ three wins in a row. Guendouzi and Ozil remained out in the cold, whilst Eddie Nketiah got the nod ahead of Alex Lacazette, with reports claiming that he, alongside Guendouzi, was being offered for sale in the next transfer window. No doubt a decision will be made on whether to pay Aubameyang the requested £250,000 a week very soon, with the cost of replacing a goalscorer as prolific doubtless a part of the financial equation.

Mustafi, Soares and Saka all started – with an element of rotation required. It was good also to see a fit again Lucas Torreira in the squad. An early scare from the pacey Adama Traore was foiled by Emi Martinez. It needs saying that the keeper is looking better with every passing game, actually dominating his area in a way I don’t feel we’ve seen from an Arsenal keeper in a long time. Next season, when Bernd Leno returns to fitness, will be interesting, because if this continues, it would be detrimental to the team to drop Martinez. It’s a nice problem to have.

It was a generally lacklustre first half, with two sides playing the same formation largely negating each other, although Eddie Nketiah was unlucky not to score at one point with a quality snap shot. It was his younger colleage Bukayo Saka who opened the scoring as half-time neared after some great build-up play, albeit Kieran Tierney’s cross into the box was deflected. Saka took the half volley sweetly though, with an excellent finish.

No surprise that Wolves dominated the early stages of the second half, and Traore should really have equalized – credit again to Martinez though for pressurizing the striker at the key moment. It might have been a different game had that gone in, but overall, Arsenal were the better team. Arteta’s substitutions were all effective – he’s now getting the hang of using all five allowed subs, although in his defence, injuries have scuppered things for him more than once.

What was really encouraging, especially when fresh legs were brought on, was how competitive the Arsenal team were, chasing down the ball in the Wolves half, and forcing loss of possession. It was the hunting in packs that Guardiola fostered at Barcelona and doubtless continues to drum into all of his teams. It was key that Arsenal did this to prevent Wolves getting into a rhythm and repeating the sustained spell of pressure we saw after the interval.

With the intensity, it has a bit of a whiff of the old Arsenal spirit. In the end, things became more comfortable when sub Lacazette scored his first away Premier League goal for a year, the kind of stat that tells you why the club may well be prepared to cut their losses and sell the player. He came with a big reputation, but failed to establish himself, Aubameyang joining halfway through his first season and simply looking a better striker. The stats don’t lie. Even so, he’s obviously showing enough commitment to get game time under Arteta and I can see him rotating with Nketiah for the remainder of the season.

Joe Willock might have made it three, beating the keeper but seeing his effort cleared off the line. It was a miss that didn’t matter. It’s certain that seventh place will mean Europa League football, given the last four in the FA Cup, and even eighth will be enough if Man City’s ban is at least enforced for one season. It is strange to think that if Tottenham do not get their act together they may not even be in Europe at all next season - it feels like three from four between Wolves, Arsenal, Sheffield United and Spurs on the Europa qualification front, although Burnley and Everton can’t be completely ruled out.

What is important for Arsenal though, is momentum. Another win, another clean sheet. Since the defeat at Brighton we have seen a switch to a back three and a single goal conceded in four matches. We are seeing wins instead of the pre-lockdown plethora of draws. It’s taken time, but it now looks like the team are genuinely progressing. Let’s hope this continues, as with a pretty short close season to come, momentum could even continue into the next campaign, along with the introduction of players Arteta wants in his squad rather then solely inherited options.


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  1. itsRonagain2

    Jul 07, 2020, 10:19 #116928

    Hi Marky - Yes, the lad from Newcastle is the most exciting player in the PL in my view. Hes a fabulous headless chicken, but great to watch!! Totally in disciplined isnt he. I wouldn't like to see that taken away from him though. A bit of direction though and he ll be a great player. He s breath of fresh air in a very staid, humdrum league.

  2. markymark

    Jul 06, 2020, 20:36 #116927

    Hi CG I always had the impression that Torreira hadn’t settled but we will see. Just one to add to the pot Allan Saint-Maximin - he’d be a great acquisition from Newcastle


    Jul 06, 2020, 19:46 #116926

    First time in yonks that I enjoyed an AFC defensive performance. Wouldn't want to see the terrier that is Torreira leave as I feel he will be very comfortable & a big asset now we can more clearly see what Arteta is evolving. I would add Xhaka & Kola to the list of the well known candidates for a P45 though. Also the first time I have warmed to AMN who now seems to have his head sorted & is a good footballer imo. Finally, at long last there seems to be a genuine TEAM spirit building.

  4. markymark

    Jul 06, 2020, 17:47 #116925

    Need to shift Guendozi (spelling ) maybe even Torreira, get Ozil finally on his way and bring in someone like Partey . We could really then start getting on a roll . Not sure I’m so distressed at Aubameyang getting 250k a week over 3 years . The contribution he can still make as he’s looked after himself is a bucket load more than Ozil’s £350k

  5. Bardo

    Jul 06, 2020, 17:26 #116924

    A random point is that these empty stadiums help the away side hugely. The atmosphere isnt intimidating and is more like a training game. Agree with you Paul on all counts we need to shed the so called heavyweights. If we give Auba another bumper contract it really will be a sign that the inmates have taken over the asylum.

  6. itsRonagain2

    Jul 06, 2020, 11:15 #116923

    Hi Lads Forced myself to see it. Very eerie isnt it in empty stadia. However, a very good win. Wolves were toothless though. I dont really get the hype over their No 9.There was a real toughness about us though, it has to be said. As Bardo says though, our middle is brittle. Jota ran all all over our middle when he came on. Theres just no real anchor in the middle for us, though Xhaka played a decent game didn't he. The keeper was first class. Saka was good. The back line though will always crack under more potent attacks than Wolves.Lots of work for MA to do but hes certainly making a difference, albeit while trying to make a silk purse from a sows ear with this squad.


    Jul 05, 2020, 20:14 #116922

    Must be a bit horrible actually playing at these mausoleums but I thought the Sound Engineer had a brilliant game, 10/10 for me - but I am so easily fooled these days.

  8. Paulward

    Jul 05, 2020, 19:51 #116921

    Arteta seems to rate Eddie, so it makes no sense to keep Auba, Laca and Pepe when we are short in midfield.We need to cash in on one of them and buy a Partey/Dacoure type.Yesterday arguably our best away PL result since winning at City 4 years ago.., even more impressive when you consider Wolves had not played for a week and should have been fresher.

  9. Bardo

    Jul 05, 2020, 18:04 #116920

    Always enjoy a win but it could have gone either way in truth. There wasnt much in it all game but I enjoyed our discipline. Martinez looks rock solid in goal. Whjere has he been. Our midfield is rubbish. Cebellos is very busy but doesnt do much. he looks a poor mans Santi. I would like to see AMN given a go in one of the defensive midfield places. He is a terrific athlete but he isnt a full back. I sincerely hope that the papers have got the Auba stuff wrong. We cant be serious about offering a massive contract to a 30 year old. Surely the club have learnt lessons from Ozil and Sanchez. He is a good player but he's no Henry. As for the transfer window I dont see a lot happening, maybe one player in and a few out. The club are broke and need to reduce their wage bill.

  10. ArsenalMagna

    Jul 05, 2020, 17:06 #116919

    Laca would be a perfect 10 as he has superb ball control, hold up play, passing and vision. He also puts in a shift and presses well. No other 10s at the club and heaven help us if James Rodriguez joins! If our team next year was Martinez, Bellerin, Upamecano, Luiz, Tierney, Partey, Ceballos, Laca (10), Pepe, Auba and Saka, top 4 would be possible.

  11. GoonerRon

    Jul 05, 2020, 12:27 #116918

    Absolutely loved the result and the performance - in securing the win Lacazette’s goal was a genuinely euphoric moment. I was slightly frustrated in the first half as I felt our passing was far too safe, but in getting the goal before half time it felt like a really solid feeling-ourselves-into-the-game performance. Our fighting spirit in the second half was great to see and the subs really added something to our performance too. Our fixtures are tough in the run-in, relative to the teams around us, so with ground still to make up a run for the CL places still feels unlikely. That said, a run of wins on the bounce will help the players believe in Arteta and hopefully build some positive momentum as we move into the transfer window and next season. COYG!

  12. John F

    Jul 05, 2020, 11:29 #116917

    I was quite impressed with the performance.Right from the kick off you could see the players running at the Wolves players when they had the ball.I have been critical of the way Arteta uses his substitutions but yesterday after a dodgy 20 mins in the second half he rectified the situation with the players he brought on.The team worked hard and they appear to be playing for the manager but we do need to strengthen the midfield to kick on from this.