Alan Alger's Last Word Arsenal column on the Gunners disappointing 2-1 defeat to Wolves

Read Alan Alger's Last Word column after nine man Arsenal lose to Wolves

Alan Alger's Last Word Arsenal column on the Gunners disappointing 2-1 defeat to Wolves

Arsenal slipped to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Wolves on Tuesday evening after David Luiz was sent off moments before half time

Football matches can change in a split-second and once again, as Gooners, we had to sit and watch the most brutal example of this at Molineux last night.

I’m sure we all had similar tweets stored up ready to be sent at the end of a first half where we had dominated proceedings and arguably deserved more than the one-goal lead that was showing in the bottom left of the BT Sport screen, before added time was confirmed.

Every now and again a game gets thrown up that just doesn’t make any sense.

I still have nightmares about the fixture that handed Manchester United the title in 2000/01.

Relegation threatened Middlesbrough turning up at Highbury in mid-April and winning 3-0 in a performance that included nearly 70 per cent Arsenal possession and numerous shots on target.

Boro finding the net three times despite having a solitary shot on target, with Edu and Silvinho making it an unwanted double in defence with a ‘Brazilian brace’ of own goals just before half-time.

Fast forward nearly 20 years and it was another Brazilian who snatched a defeat from the jaws of victory ahead of the half-time whistle.

In the aftermath of the game there seems to be a split in the fanbase as to whether David Luiz was in the wrong in continuing his run into the area and felling Willian Jose. Everyone has had their say including ex-referees and pundits.

The only thing that really matters is the scoreline in the history books and it says: red-card, penalty and 1-1 at half-time.

Before the game I think most of us knew from the build-up that it was an ideal time to be playing Wolves. That was backed up by an opening blitz of Arsenal chances and a disallowed goal that signalled an impressive intent from Mikel Arteta’s side.

While I’m not sure we took our foot off the gas after Pepe’s excellent opener, I was surprised to see a relatively low half-time xG figure of 0.62. We created six opportunities but none of them were suggestive of finding the net more than once in the 45.

Before seeing those figures it had seemed to my eyes that we had been more dominant, I was even pushed to think it could have been one of our best first halves in the Premier League in a long while. I guess the disallowed goal, from a marginal offside, was also part of my assessment that we had a well-deserved lead.

As we were deleting our drafted tweets, Arteta was no doubt having to find a hastily adapted half-time teamtalk. Considering we’ve now been shown nine red cards in the league since his first game in charge playing with ten men is something he might be used to by now.

He made the decision to dispense with Lacazette and go with the athleticism and slight height upgrade in Gabriel Martinelli at the break. It was a debatable decision, but one that didn’t have a whole half to bed in as Bernd Leno also received his marching orders on 72 minutes.

What the German keeper did was just bizarre, a lapse in concentration maybe. It sealed our fate as by then Wolves had already sent an unstoppable Moutinho winner past his outstretched hand and into the side of the net for 2-1.

As I said in my last column, I don’t think we are in a position where we can sweat individual matches, especially one as bizarre as this.

Errors were made, both by personnel and by management, but we also showed in the first 44 minutes what the boss is trying to build here. Pepe adding goals to his game, Saka and Bellerin linking up and Thomas Partey in quarter-back mode.

While Arteta (64) sits a huge 13 points behind where Unai Emery (77) was after his equivalent 42nd league game in charge of us, he can point to the fact that progress is being made with their score over games 33 to 42 inclusive reading 17 points to Arteta and just 11 to his fellow Spaniard.

We now face a tough game at Aston Villa with the irony of seeing a freely available Emi Martinez in the opposite net while we decide between Mat Ryan (injury permitting) and Runarsson.

If fit, the former is likely to get the nod based on our Europa League registrations today where the young Iceland international was dropped. I thought he actually did reasonably well to keep the scoreline down last night, so we shall see.

A draw at Villa Park would be a reasonable result in the current climate, but there’s no reason why we cannot get back to winning ways with no split-second silly mistakes or freak occurrences.



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