Arsenal moved up to second place in the Premiership standings with a road victory at Wolverhampton on Saturday, winning by the same 4-1 scoreline as in its Champions League romp over AZ Alkmaar three days earlier.
While not as dominating as in recent matches, Arsenal withstood some early pressure from Wolverhampton before benefitting from a couple of own goals from the hosts. The win extends the Gunners’ unbeaten run to 13 games in all competitions, heading into another international break as World Cup qualifying concludes this month.
Wolverhampton started brightly on what would become a rainy afternoon at the Molineux, controlling possession in the game’s first 20 minutes. But just before the half hour, an Arsenal corner sent in by Cesc Fabregas was directed into the net by defender Ronald Zubar, gifting the Gunners the opening goal.
An Arsenal counter in minute 35 resulted in another own goal, as Eduardo da Silva’s chip nicked Wolves defender Jody Craddock on its way past keeper Wayne Hennessey to further deflate the home side’s spirits.
The 2-0 advantage seemed to ignite Arsenal’s free-flowing attack for the rest of the half, and Fabregas put the game out of reach just before the break, slotting the ball home after being played in brilliantly by Robin van Persie.
With the result decided, the second half proved less eventful than the opening 45 minutes. Andrey Arshavin scored Arsenal’s fourth in minute 65, sending a shot from 20 yards past Hennessey after the keeper had punched out an Arsenal corner.
With Manuel Almunia looking to claim a clean sheet in his second game back for Arsenal, Craddock was able to deny the Spanish keeper’s wishes by heading in a Wolverhampton corner two minutes from time.
And though the Gunners again conceded a late goal by its opponents, Arsene Wenger’s side should be pleased with another Premiership victory on the road, with this latest win putting Arsenal above Manchester United and into second position in the league table.
Referring to the goal that denied the clean sheet, manager Wenger suggested after the match: “We have a style where everyone goes forward. You cannot have everything in football, but I believe we have a good balance between offense and defence, and as long as we score as many goals as we do, we can accept that.”
In his post-match interview (featured at http://www.arsenal.com), Wenger admitted that “we had been under pressure in the first 10 to 15 minutes, but after that I felt we controlled the game. Overall we could have scored many more. We know that on every counter-attack we looked dangerous and as soon as we could win the second ball and put it on the ground, we looked always capable to play through their lines and score goals.”
The last week has seen Arsenal score three goals against Tottenham, and four each against Alkmaar and Wolves. “That means we scored 36 goals now in the league. That is not a coincidence. That means we can score goals.
“Of course, if they had scored first it would have been much more difficult,” continued Wenger, who believes his side have a legitimate chance at capturing the Premiership crown this season. “The desire is there. We want to strengthen our belief, but I think the most important factor is that we play for each other as we do, we focus on our performance, and that we continue to develop our style of play,” he added.