Arsenal dominates early, hangs on to beat Wolves
LONDON (AP) — Arsenal carved through the Wolverhampton defense with a couple of intricate team moves and held on for a 2-1 home win to extend its lead atop the English Premier League on Saturday.
Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard scored in the opening 13 minutes at Emirates Stadium and Wolves barely had a whiff at goal before being gifted a way back into the game in the 86th, when Matheus Cunha swept home following a defensive mixup.
But the Gunners clung on through a nervous eight minutes of added time to go four points clear of second-placed Manchester City. The defending champion hosts Tottenham on Sunday.
“I’m really happy with the way we played, the way we dominated again and the amount of chances and big situations we generated to win the game much more comfortably," Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said. “But at the end we made an error, and they used that error to go 2-1, and then it’s game on in this league. But the team was extraordinary again today.”
This win came on the heels of Arsenal’s 6-0 rout of Lens in the Champions League on Wednesday, and the Gunners attack again looked back to its free-flowing best in the early stages. The return of striker Gabriel Jesus from an injury has clearly rejuvenated Arsenal's forward line, and while the Brazilian did not get a goal or an assist, his link-up play in the area played a crucial role in both early goals.
The first came when Saka started and finished off a well-worked move in the sixth minute. Double-teamed on the right wing, Saka managed to thread the ball through to Jesus on the edge of the area, and the Brazil forward held off a defender before flicking the ball on to Takehiro Tomiyasu. The Japanese right back fed it back to Saka, who went past Craig Dawson before slotting it past goalkeeper Jose Sa.
The second came when left back Oleksandr Zinchenko chased down a wayward cross from Saka and played a one-two with Jesus before squaring the ball back to Odegaard, who calmly side-footed inside the far corner.
Sa had to go off in the 22nd for an apparent back injury and was replaced by Dan Bentley, who needed the woodwork to bail him out in the 37th. Saka fed Gabriel Martinelli on a quick counter but the Brazilian rolled his shot against the far post.
Arsenal goalkeeper David Raya didn’t have a save to make until the 52nd, when he blocked a shot by Cunha from a tight angle.
Saka nearly curled in a long-range strike that went just over the bar in the 75th, and Bentley pulled off a double save to deny Leandro Trossard and Saka in the 82nd.
Then, out of nowhere, Wolves was revived when Arsenal failed to clear the ball in its area and it fell to Cunha, who swept it past Raya.
Arsenal nearly responded immediately as substitute Eddie Nketiah was played through on goal by Odegaard, but rolled his finish against the post.
That made for a nervy finish but Wolves couldn't trouble Raya again. ___
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