Wolves 0 Arsenal 2: Premier League leaders, clean sheet, job done – The Briefing

Arsenal returned to the top of the Premier League — and maybe that’s all that matters.

Martin Odegaard added a late second goal deep into stoppage time, squeezing the ball in from a tight angle with his left foot, but for so long only Leandro Trossard’s 45th-minute strike separated the two teams.

Arsenal, though, got the job done against Wolverhampton Wanderers, and were able to put back-to-back defeats — the 1-0 Champions League quarter-final exit against Bayern Munich, and the 2-0 loss in the Premier League to Aston Villa — behind them.

More records were broken too, with Arsenal keeping a clean sheet in their sixth consecutive away league match for the first time in their history.

They are back at the summit (albeit having played a match more than Manchester City) and taking that momentum and more energy into facing Chelsea at home and Tottenham Hotspur away is now vital.

Art de Roché dissects the key talking points from Molineux…


Should Trossard start more often?

It was far from one of his cleaner strikes, but Trossard’s effort to put Arsenal 1-0 up was the latest in his growing collection of ‘magic moments’. Mikel Arteta spoke about the need for those in the Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich, but the point stands for this stage of the season in general.

Trossard


(Henry Nicholls/AFP via Getty Images)

The timing of Trossard’s toe-poke into the top corner was crucial, and it is not the first time he has produced at a similar moment in a game. He put Arsenal 1-0 up at home to Burnley in first-half added time last November, which gave them the platform to go on and win 3-1.

The strike against Wolves was his ninth Premier League goal of the season, with the eight before equally distributed between games he had started and those he had come off the bench. But as Arteta’s second-most used substitute in the league this season (16 times), his record was much better off the bench — averaging a goal every 218 minutes as a starter, compared to one every 86 minutes as a substitute.

Aside from his goal, Trossard was Arsenal’s most active player in the first half. He fluffed his lines before eventually scoring, but also drifted across the width of the pitch to help inject some pace into a slow Arsenal attack.

Trossard


Trossard’s touch map against Wolves

Arsenal had won the last 21 games they have led in at half-time before tonight. Trossard stepping up again put them on track to extending that record, as well as giving them more impetus in the second half before he was replaced after 70 minutes.


Arsenal back on track?

Momentum is key at this stage of the season. So much can factor into that. Goals scored and conceded are what change games, but everything that happens within matches outside of that is just as important.

Over the past week, Arsenal have not been efficient enough across many aspects of play and that was evident again in the first half at Molineux. After a tame outing at the Allianz Arena, too much second-guessing was taking place.

In possession, the ball was not being moved quickly enough. Although Arsenal had six shots in the opening 25 minutes, only Kai Havertz’s volley was genuinely threatening. Arteta has spoken about the need for quick ball speed and movement to generate a threat, and that was not there. Instead, too much thought went into Arsenal’s actions.

That was seen in Wolves’ big chance, as Jakub Kiwior failing to take charge of a loose ball resulted in Joao Gomes nicking the ball away from him and hitting the post via a David Raya fingertip.

Raya, Arsenal


(Jack Thomas – WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images)

Raya, Trossard and Gabriel Jesus (for the Arsenal opener) playing off instinct decided this game for Arsenal. It also energised those on the pitch, who pressed with more intensity as well as being sharper in the final third.

And Odegaard’s strike was the icing on the cake.


A welcome record for Raya…

Arsenal seeing out the 2-0 win means they have kept a clean sheet in six consecutive away league matches for the first time in their history. Raya, in goal again today, had already became the first Spanish goalkeeper to keep five consecutive Premier League clean sheets in Arsenal’s 3-0 win at Brighton earlier this month.

Raya was not busy but was effective when needed. His fingertip save from Gomes’ shot onto the post kept Arsenal level at 0-0, allowing them to take the lead shortly after in the first half.

Wolves only generated an xG of 0.14, so his involvement in the second half was centred around ensuring Arsenal stayed comfortable. His high claims of crosses in a crowded box did just that, while he also decided to pass the ball longer as the game neared its close.

Individually, that was his 13th clean sheet of the season — the most in the Premier League this season. For context around how not-so-busy he has been this term, the 28-year-old had made 36 saves in the league before kick-off. That ranked 24th out of the 38 goalkeepers used in the Premier League in 2023-24.

Arsenal


(Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

What did Trossard say?

“We’re really pleased,” he told Sky Sports. “We wanted that response. It was a brilliant win — we controlled most of the game, then two great goals and another clean sheet.

“I think we could have scored more goals, especially in the first half. We were searched for that first goal and luckily it came from me. It was not maybe the sweetest but I knew I had a small amount of time to hit the ball. I had to use my toe as well to get it on target.

“I think the resilience has been brilliant. Then it’s up to the boys to show great character and mentality and I think we did that today.”


What next for Arsenal?

Tuesday, April 23: Chelsea (H), Premier League, 8pm BST, 3pm ET

Arsenal have lost just one of the past nine meetings with cross-London rivals Chelsea, with their six wins including the 2019-20 FA Cup final, and climbed off the canvas in October’s reverse fixture to turn a two-goal deficit with 14 minutes of the 90 to go into a 2-2 draw.


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(Top photo: Getty Images)

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