Arsenal were destroyed on the road as Wolves put in a scintillating first half performance to take the points and leave us staring at yet another season outside the top four spots.
Goals from Ruben Neves, Matt Doherty and Diego Jota in the first forty five minutes were more than enough to sink the Gunners, and despite a late consolation from Sokratis, we never looked close to coming back into the game.
Unai Emery opted for a change in system with this game, going for a 4-2-3-1 formation, and Lucas Torreira partnering Granit Xhaka in the centre – our first choice pairing. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was left out of the squad entirely, and Lacazette was assisted by a combo of Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
We actually started off well, and Lacazette had an early sniff of goal, but Wolves looked really tasty as the game wore on, and in the 28th minute, Neves stepped up for a free kick, got the ball over the wall and dipping into the bottom corner, leaving Leno no chance.
This seemed to suck all the momentum from us, and from this moment, it was all Wolves. Jimenez could have had two quite easily if it weren’t for poor touches, and our defence – again our first choice pairing – never quite got to grips with the likes of Moutinho, Jimenez and Jota.
Lacazette again had another half chance but fired well wide, and a minute later, we were two down. A one-two out wide saw a ball swung in and our brittle offside trap broke. It left Doherty the relatively simple task of heading in unmarked, and we were up against it.
Torreira could then have been sent off for a wild challenge, and seconds later, the last kick of the half in fact, Wolves put the game to bed.
Diego Jota took possession of the ball on the left, danced past a couple of light attempts from our defenders to get the ball, and his shot squeezed under Leno and into the net.
Goodnight, turn the lights off when you leave.
The second half could have made the result far worse, and changes were made, but none got us out of the mire.
Here’s 4 things from the game we immediately need to rectify before our next game:
Change The Mentality
It was far too easy for Wolves to break our positivity. We started OK, but one goal destroyed any semblance of what we were building. The stoic defending from Napoli and Watford was gone, in came chaotic defending and our press was destroyed. We were played around and through, and far too easily. Make no mistake, if we play like this for our next away game, the result will be the same, regardless of who we play.
Injuries Are Biting – But Play Your Best Team
We were missing Ramsey for this one, but you can see our men are tired. The problem is, our rivals have played the same amount of games, and they aren’t wilting like us. It may prompt Emery to make changes, but the team we had out is our best, bar the omission of Aubameyang. We need to stick to it, with perhaps one or two changes at a time.
Possession Football On The Road Isn’t Working
When confidence is high, the way we put the ball around the pitch can work wonders. We have no confidence right now, and we need to change in order to build it back up. Pack the defensive midfield, invite the opposition onto us. Then, when they are invested, take the ball when possible and spring counter-attacks. We need to keep it tight and work from there. The way we are playing right now is doing us no favours, and makes it easy for teams to go through our centre.
We Need Central Men – Quickly
No matter how talented Guendouzi is, if you take way one of Torreira or Xhaka, we are left with a teenager as the next choice. The jury is out on Denis Suarez, and Mohamed Elneny will never give us more than 7/10. We need to invest in box-to-box midfielders, perhaps two, if we are to have the squad to cope with being a contender. Right now, we are hampered.
Next up, we have Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. Let’s hope we learn from this travesty, that’s all we can hope for.
Another defeat could do more than destroy our top four hopes, we could go into the Valencia game with precious little confidence, which would play exactly into the La Liga side’s hands. With the Europa League our best chance of Champions League qualification, we need to be at our best.