Arsenal return to top spot after Trossard and Ødegaard see off Wolves

Estimated read time 4 min read

Arsenal fans suffering from accusations of a typical late-season collapse can refer their critics to this resilient victory after their team managed a sixth consecutive clean sheet on their league travels for the first time in their long and illustrious history to return to the top of the Premier League.

‘One-nil’ to the Arsenal has always had a ring to it but no one in red and white was complaining when, after Leandro Trossard’s fortuitous 45th-minute goal provided Arsenal with the ideal fillip, Martin Ødegaard scored even later in the second half to seal the victory, slipping home a cute left-foot shot inside the near post at the second attempt after an intricate passing move.

After a week that has tested their mettle and their morale, with defeat at Aston Villa followed by a Champions League quarter-final exit to Bayern Munich, Arsenal could be four points clear of Manchester City by the time the FA Cup finalists play in the league again, away to Brighton on Thursday.

The visit of Chelsea to the Emirates on Tuesday becomes centre stage, even should Liverpool draw level on points by beating Fulham on Sunday. “We have to beat Chelsea now who are in good form,” Mikel Arteta, the Arsenal manager, said. “I was ­watching the [FA Cup semi-final] game against City and they are a really good side. We have to earn it big time in front of our crowd and give it a real go.”

After winning only three of their final nine games at the end of last season, and six of the last 12 in 2021-22, Arsenal look more resilient this time, the prize still within sight with five matches left. “The run we’ve been on since January is unbelievable and this team are top of the league, so let’s see what happens,” Arteta said.

Arsenal’s Leandro Trossard scoring his side’s first goal against Wolves.View image in fullscreen

Trossard’s ninth Premier League goal of the season – only Bukayo Saka has more for Arsenal – reflects the squad’s increased strength in depth that is showing at a critical stage of what could still be a captivating title race. The Belgium winger admitted he got fortunate with his goal, as he sliced a shot into the top corner with his big toe.

Outside the elite, Wolves have had the best record against the traditional big six, averaging 1.7 points per game before this match, and for all their injured absentees the home fans suspected Arsenal could be vulnerable after their troubled week. “Champions League, you’re having a laugh,” they sang.

Wolves sat back initially but grew into the game and sensed they could get at Arsenal on Jakub Kiwior’s flank. João Gomes got in down the right wing and, with options limited, calmed himself with a roll of the foot over the ball before unleashing a shot that David Raya did well to tip on to his near post.

“It was a very crucial save,” Arteta said, “because we didn’t concede anything after that.”

skip past newsletter promotion

In the last minute of the first half Arsenal got the moment of good fortune that has been missing recently. Gabriel Jesus gave Matt Doherty the merest of bumps as they jostled for Kai Havertz’s cross, and as the striker got back up off the ground himself, the ball fell for Trossard to slice his 14th goal of the season in all competitions into the far top corner.

It was telling for Wolves that when Hwang Hee-chan had to go off early in the second half, after his first start since returning from a hamstring injury, Mario Lemina was their most advanced player. “We discovered Mario can play as a No 9,” Gary O’Neil, the Wolves manager, joked. “I’m sure he played there as a kid in the park at some stage.”

The holding midfielder managed to sting Raya’s hands when, cutting inside from the right edge of the penalty area, he let loose a fierce left-foot shot. Wolves introduced Rayan Aït-Nouri and Pablo Sarabia, two of their regulars, for the final 15 minutes, as the game stretched out. But this also suited Arsenal, who were able to extend their lead right at the end with Ødegaard’s 50th goal involvement for the club.

“We wanted to get the second one earlier,” the Arsenal captain said. “I don’t think it was our best performance. Today was all about the three points and we got them.”


You May Also Like

More From Author