Arsenal held on for a crucial Premier League win over Wolves at Molineux on Thursday night despite being down to ten men for more than 25 minutes.
With his side 1-0 up, Gabriel Martinelli was remarkably dismissed in the 69th minute after being shown two yellow cards for two offences in the same phase of play.
Although the hosts had plenty of the ball, the Gunners had the better of a first half of few chances and went in at the break with the lead.
Ben White saw a firm strike blocked midway through the half after a nice interchange between Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka, and the defender was involved two minutes later as Arsenal went ahead.
Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa failed to deal with White’s headed knockdown as he missed the ball and clattered into Alexandre Lacazette, who got the slightest tough to nudge it into the path of Gabriel to poke in from a yard out. A brief VAR review did not offer the stopper a reprieve.
The home side struggled to create any clear-cut chances before half-time, although Raul Jimenez did send a header straight down Aaron Ramsdale’s throat and Nelson Semedo whipped a shot narrowly wide from the edge of the box.
After a subdued start to the second period, Arsenal’s poor discipline was evident once again with 20 minutes to go.
Martinelli was incredibly shown two yellow cards for two bookable offences in the same phase of play. The first was for a shove on Daniel Podence as he took a throw-in, and the second for barging over Chiquinho as he chased back.
Wolves had the ball in the net from the resulting free kick, but the strike was swiftly ruled out for offside.
Just moments later the Gunners had the opportunity to double their lead, but Lacazette was far too casual clean through on goal and swept his finish well wide.
It was inevitably a Wolves onslaught thereafter, but despite a barrage of crosses and headers the hosts could not find a way past Ramsdale and the Arsenal backline. Romain Saiss went closest, but his blasted effort was tipped over.
Here’s how the players rated at Molineux…
Sa’s error was costly / Marc Atkins/GettyImages
Jose Sa (GK) – 4/10 – Should have done better in the build-up to the opener. Completely missed the ball and collided with Lacazette, leaving the goal open.
Max Kilman (CB) – 6/10 – Made an uncharacteristically shaky start and should have been booked for a cynical trip. Eventually recovered.
Conor Coady (CB) – 5/10 – Failed to clear and was a bit slow to react just before the opening goal. Subbed as Wolves threw on a striker late on.
Romain Saiss (CB) – 6/10 – Tested the referee’s patience in the first half and picked up a yellow for a poor challenge from behind. Went close with a blasted effort.
Neves huffed and puffed / Marc Atkins/GettyImages
Nelson Semedo (RWB) – 6/10 – Got forward at every opportunity and went close from range.
Leander Dendoncker (CM) – 5/10 – Lacks Joao Moutinho’s creative impetus. Never really influenced proceedings. Did make plenty of recoveries.
Ruben Neves (CM) – 6/10 – Worked hard but was shouldering a lot of the work in central midfield. Booked for a late lunge.
Fernando Marçal (LWB) – 5/10 – Looked uncomfortable after a heavy fall. Given a tough time by Saka and eventually subbed.
Podence was always a threat / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages
Francisco Trincao (RW) – 5/10 – Good on the ball but severely lacked end product. Subbed.
Raul Jimenez (ST) – 5/10 – Struggled to get into the game despite the volley of crosses into the box late on. His best effort was straight at Ramsdale.
Daniel Podence (LW) – 7/10 – Buzzed about initially, coming in off his wing and posing a threat centrally. Sprayed countless cross-field passes. Faded somewhat after the break.
Rayan Ait-Nouri (LWB) – 5/10
Chiquinho (RW) – 5/10 – Didn’t have the desired impact.
Fabio Silva (ST) – N/A – Inexplicably passed when in on goal at the angle.
Gabriel celebrates the opener / ADRIAN DENNIS/GettyImages
Aaron Ramsale (GK) – 7/10 – Made a couple of very important late saves as Arsenal held on for dear life
Cedric Soares (RB) – 7/10 – Did really well in the absence of Tomiyasu. Didn’t get forward too often but excelled at the back.
Ben White (CB) – 7/10 – Towering pre-assist for his centre-back partner. So solid and intelligent in his defending, too.
Gabriel (CB) – 8/10 – Tapped Arsenal into the lead from a yard out. Very good in the air defensively. Booked for time-wasting.
Kieran Tierney (LB) – 6/10 – Not as explosive as usual from left-back but put in a big shift.
Odegaard impressed again / ADRIAN DENNIS/GettyImages
Thomas Partey (DM) – 7/10 – A couple of important defensive interventions in the first half and continued that form in the second. Booked.
Granit Xhaka (DM) – 6/10 – Anchored well alongside Partey, but did pick up his customary booking.
Martin Odegaard (AM) – 7/10 – Involved in Arsenal’s best moves more often than not, always probing. Unfortunate to be subbed with more than 20 left.
Martinelli saw red / Marc Atkins/GettyImages
Bukayo Saka (RW) – 6/10 – Some scintillating wing-play in the first half, creating a couple of half-chances as he combined well with Odegaard. Wolves couldn’t get near him. Faded and sacrificed with his side down to ten.
Alexandre Lacazette (ST) – 7/10 – His presence caused an almighty distraction for the opener and got a deft touch for the assist. Took a whack but won’t care. Absolutely tireless worker.
Gabriel Martinelli (LW) – 4/10 – Worked hard without setting the world alight. Sent off for TWO yellow card offences in the same phase of play. Ridiculous.
Emile Smith Rowe (AM) – 5/10
Eddie Nketiah (ST) – 5/10
Rob Holding (CB) – 7/10 – Made a hugely important late block. Excellent in the air, too, as Arsenal clung on.
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