Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 – Arsenal 3 (van Persie 9 (pen), Walcott 11, Benayoun 69)
Man of the Match – Yossi Benayoun (Arsenal)
The expected happened last night, well, atleast at Molineux, as Arsenal romped home with 3 more vital points as they look to secure 3rd spot and automatic Champions League qualification, and also edge closer to ensuring the annual St. Totteringham’s Day celebrations will take place as is the norm this year as well.
On the other hand, Wolves, despite all the spirit and determination they have, look closer than ever to Championship football next season. Arsenal, without Laurent Koscielny, booked in the previous game against Manchester City, replaced him with brother of calamity Johan Djourou. Kieran Gibbs, who suffered a slight strain, was given a rest, as he was replaced by bustling Brazilian left-back Andre Santos. Surprisingly, Tomas Rosicky, the man in fine nick at the moment, was given a well deserved rest, as Yossi Benayoun held on to his place in the starting 11, while Wales captain Aaron Ramsey got another chance to shine.
Wolves, made a surprising selection, opting with only Kevin Doyle upfront, rather than the Fletcher-Ebanks Blake partnership that has been preferred recently. Roger Johnson missed out, as Spurs loanee Sebastien Bassong, and Ronald Zubar were chosen. Young midfielder David Davis was given a rare start.
The game began at a blistering pace, as Wolves look set out to frustrate their opponents, with a high up pressing game. Wolves had barely caught their breath, when Walcott displayed tremendous pace, to get behind the Wolves’ defence. A slight touch from Bassong, and Walcott made the most of it. Bassong, being the last man, was shown the red card, and the tone was set for the match.
Robin van Persie, who seems to be going through a bit of a slump, with no goals to show for in the last 4 games, stepped up, against Wayne Hennessey, who had earlier frustrated the Dutchman in the league encounter in December. van Persie cheekily nicked home the penalty.
Before you knew it, Arsenal were 2-0 up. Theo Walcott, again showing some blistering pace, as he linked up with van Persie, to slot home the killer goal of the night. Wolves seemed happy to be doing damage limitation, as they allowed Arsenal to pass around the ball freely at well. The crowd cheered whenever Wolves got possession of the ball, as the game seemed to look more of a rout. Arsenal never looked threatening enough after that, and clearly had taken their foot off the pedal.
The second half was a slightly different story though, with Wolves showing more intent. Ronald Zubar exposed Andre Santos as he helped himself to a few crosses from the right. Kevin Doyle even managed to force Wojciech Szczesny into a fantastic one handed reflex save.
Aaron Ramsey should have scored when he was in a one-on-one situation with his national team’s goalie, but his shot was blocked, while van Persie too missed a chance to make it 3-0. It didn’t matter though, as Yossi Benayoun stabbed home the third, to seal 3 points.
Later, Arsenal’s complacency was quite evident, as Serbian midfielder Nenad Milijas forced Szczesny into another good save. But, from then on, it was just a formality for the Gunners, who now move 5 points ahead of fierce rivals Tottenham.
Next up, slayers of Manchester United, Wigan Athletic on Monday night.
Szczesny (8) – Pulled off two fantastic saves, one of which was at a critical point in the game.
Sagna (8) – Had a relatively easy outing.
Vermaelen (8) – A bit susceptible to sloppiness, but a good performance nonetheless.
Djourou (8) – Cant fault his performance yesterday. Needs to be at his best against Wigan, too.
Santos (7.5) – Looked a bit suspect at times, against Zubar and Kightly.
Song (8) – A good game, but slowed down the game on many a occassion.
Ramsey (7.5) – Missed some glorious chances, but had a neat game today, with his passing and movement.
Arteta (8.5) – Fantastic in midfield, spraying the ball around at will. Was at the end of a few crude Wolves tackles.
Benayoun (8.5) – Fantastic performance from the hard working Israeli. Constantly made runs behind the midfield, allowing a more stable build up. Scored a good goal, too.
Walcott (8.5) – Killed the game early on, with his pace.
van Persie (8) – The goal drought’s over, finally.
Chamberlain and Jenkinson – Came on too late to get ratings.
Overall Team Rating – 8.04