February 28, 2024

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Arsenal 2-1 Wolves: Odegaard’s goal of the season (so far) and sloppy Zinchenko

Arsenal 2-1 Wolves: Odegaard’s goal of the season (so far) and sloppy Zinchenko

Another home game, another win for Arsenal.

Mikel Arteta’s side moved four points clear at the top of the Premier League – albeit perhaps only for 24 hours, as Manchester City play Tottenham tomorrow – after excellent first-half goals from Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard, both the result of quick and precise passing. Exchanges, crushing the wolves aside.

While Wolves caused some nervous moments at the end with Matheus Cunha’s well-taken goal, Arsenal held on. An injury to Takehiro Tomiyasu late in the game with what looked like a calf injury was the only blot on Arsenal’s day.

Here, we break down the key talking points.

Premier League – Top of the table


Has Odegaard scored for Arsenal this season so far?

When Saka’s cross from the right reached the other side of the penalty area, it seemed as if Arsenal’s attack had stopped.

Oleksandr Zinchenko had a different point of view. The left-back came running to the ball with a speed that suggested he was about to put it back into the penalty area, but that was a disguise. He closed his foot on the ball at the last second, and played into the foot of Gabriel Jesus, who moved away from the goal.

Nelson Semedo was surprised and as he stood, Zincino continued his run down the goal line. The ball reached Jesus quickly but he was able to see the angle and execute a perfect first-time pass into the path of Zinchenko.

It looked like a ball was coming across goal, but Zinchenko had the awareness to spot that Odegaard had cleverly held his position on the edge of the box.

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Although the picture changed very quickly, Zinchenko pulled the ball back and Odegaard shot it the first time. It was easy for the player to miss but he used the speed already present on the ball to slot it home in what became a trademark finish for the Norwegian.

This was the most beautiful goal Arsenal scored this season, with a total of 18 passes. No one has scored more goals for Arsenal in the Premier League this season.

Perhaps the only contender was Saka’s opener seven minutes earlier, Arsenal’s 100th goal in all competitions this calendar year and one that underscored their renewed desire to get into the box from the penalty spot even when doubled over.

Saka creatively shifted the ball to his right to attract pressure before passing the ball through the gap it created. Jesus pinned the defender with his back to goal, and his brilliant movement helped Saka win the ball back as he ran inside.


How important are early goals for Arsenal?

So far this season, the feeling has been that if Arsenal don’t score early, the game will become tense.

Arteta noted that the “state of the game” was a big factor in their play not being smooth with teams setting up a lower block the longer the score lasted.

Arsenal scored 19 goals in the first 20 minutes of matches last season, but Saka’s goal against Bournemouth was the only time they did so in the first 13 league matches this season. The floodgates opened that day and when he repeated the trick in the sixth minute against Wolves it had a similarly calming effect.

Arsenal created enough chances to score four or five chances in a largely one-sided first half, with Leandro Trossard having a shot blocked by Jose Sa, Gabriel Martinelli hitting the post and Jesus wasting two clear chances.


Has Zinchenko’s confusion become a big problem?

It looked very comfortable for Arsenal, but then, in the 86th minute, Zinchenko was fouled.

What did Mikel Arteta say?

The Spaniard revealed that Tomiyasu withdrew after feeling pain in his leg.

“He felt something,” he said. “I don’t know if it was due to fatigue. We decided to change immediately and didn’t want to take any risks. Let’s evaluate him and see how he is.”

“Football isn’t perfect, but I’m really happy with the way we played,” Arteta told the BBC. “The score should have been much bigger. We made a mistake and they took advantage, and the game continues in the Premier League.

“We had chances and we didn’t take them, but we kept trying. We had some big chances to decide the game.

“We have to keep winning games and performing the way we are. That’s the challenge, to keep doing that every three days because we have another important game at Luton (on Tuesday).”


What’s next for Arsenal?

Tuesday 5 December: Luton Town (away), Premier League, 8:15pm GMT, 3:15pm ET

Arsenal travel to Kenilworth Road for the first time since December 1991 – when a side including David Seaman, Tony Adams, David Rocastle and Ian Wright lost, as the old First Division champions, 1-0. Luton were a fearsome side for Arsenal in those days: they had not beaten them away in 10 attempts dating back to January 1984, and were also beaten 3-2 when the two sides met in the 1987-88 League Cup Final.


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(Top image: Glenn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images)