Nuno Espirito Santo and his men traveled to North London for the Arsenal v Wolves and what better than to return home with a 2-1 win at the Emirates. This is the worst start to a season for the Gunners since 1981 after the visitors condemned the Gunners to their third straight home league defeat.
The wait goes on, the wait for a decent attacking, dynamic performance and for three points against teams that will probably only manage to finish outside the top six. Having said that, a top-six finish for Arsenal would be viewed as a credible aspiration at present because this side seemingly has no clue about how to play expressive football.
Arsenal have concussion, probably similar to Raul Jiminez after a horrendous clash of heads with David Luiz around the six-minute mark, more about that later. However, after the stoppage, it was Wolves who emerged with clear heads, renewed vigour, and purpose as they breezed forward to pick Arsenal off.
The threat came from Neto, Podence, and Traore, who blitzed and bamboozled Arsenal and shattered the defensive shape with every foray. The Gunners are in real trouble after this result in the Arsenal v Wolves game and the sustained period of slumber is threatening to suck the club into a relegation battle for the first time since forever. It’s as if they are paralysed in terms of free-flowing expressive football and they are softly sleepwalking towards the precipice.
The defensive improvements that are so often attributed to Arteta weren’t visible here as Wolves ripped them apart and quite how the score remained so flattering to the North London club should concern Nuno Espirito Santo. He will be far happier than Mikel Arteta after his side put on an exhilarating performance in attack and a resolute effort in defence to pull off their first at the Emirates since 1979.
Arsenal appear every inch a cup side and at times a pub side, comprised of strangers that are worse for wear after a free bar. They have individual talent but they’ve been beaten in their last three home matches, conceding six and scoring once. That’s unacceptable and it’s starting to look like there’s no quick fix, although one is desperately needed.
Both sides have been short of their best and have struggled to find solutions. The Arsenal v Wolves game, which looked on paper to be a fairly even contest, turned out to be the complete opposite, with the home side short of ideas. Wolves and Arsenal went with the predicted back four but it was in the opposite direction where the majority of questions were awaiting an answer.
Suggestions that Aubameyang’s contribution has dropped off since his new contract are complete nonsense. However, it’s baffling how a side with so much pace fails to get forward so rarely and with so little purpose. The service to the highest-paid player in an Arsenal shirt is all but non-existent and Arteta’s decision to play him as the lone striker isolated him further.
The swagger has disappeared, the smile has gone and there’s a suggestion that the striker is extremely unhappy and low on confidence. From the whistle, the visitors showed their intention, but for 6 minutes, the Arsenal v Wolves game was a fairly open contest until Jimenez and Luiz banged heads from a Willian corner.
Raul's head injury is being assessed with a scan at a London hospital.
We will continue to update with more information as soon as we have it. pic.twitter.com/y2lowSYUxD
— Wolves (@Wolves) November 29, 2020
There was the worrying sight of the Wolves striker laying motionless and that would remain the same for ten minutes until he went to hospital and Luiz was assessed and patched up like an extra from the set of the Mummy. The tone after that was understandably flat until Wolves found their groove and Neto found the net. It was far too easy.
Adama Traore, who resembles one of Duane Johnson’s spare biceps squeezed into a child’s replica shirt, left Kieran Tierney chasing his heels. He executed a testing cross from the byline which saw Dendoncker head against the bar and Pedro Neto pounce to finish it off (27). The player that cost Wolves just over £16m from Lazio was a menace with his cutting runs, invention and desire and he would be involved in the second with Arsenal struggling to create anything at all.
Gabriel out-jumped everyone to meet the Willian corner (30), the Brazilian sailed through and above five gold shirts to thump the ball into the net, but that was to be the only time the Gunners would threaten the opposition goal in the Arsenal v Wolves game. It felt like Arsenal, buoyed by a reply could now push on but strangely, they just sat back, consumed by playing back, forth, and to the side, something made for the likes of Xhaka who gets a nose bleed if he strays too far over the halfway line.
There was another dreadful Dani Ceballos performance that lacked any invention but which saw him give the ball away cheaply. For a player said to be a future star in world football, at times he looked distinctly average.
Still reeling from the shock of finding the opposition’s net, the Arsenal defence went to sleep as Traore found Neto, his shot span away from the hand of Leno for Daniel Podence to skillfully pocket a goal like a professional thief and right under the noses of the open-mouthed Arsenal defence.
Arsenal had some half-chances but yet again, Aubameyang was in Greta Garbo mode with all the appeal of an ice-cream seller at the North Pole. Arsenal lack a sense of self, no longer sure of who they are, what they need, or how to achieve it. Arteta is now in danger of assuming Unai Emery’s shadow and one year on from the Spaniard’s departure, significant improvements are hard to find.
Conceding is one thing, not scoring is far worse. Aubameyang’s goals and Leno’s saves kept Arsenal out of trouble last season, but this seems less likely these days. Arteta must be confused as to why the abundance of attacking talent can’t string two passes together, let alone score. The time for drastic actions is close at hand and dare I say it, if Aubameyang can’t find the net, try Balogun or Martinelli when fit. Something needs to give urgently.
Ten games into this season and Arsenal look as far away from a title challenge as they looked in the last 18 months of Wenger’s reign but at least, they played openly, too open at times. Mikel Arteta now has to look at this squad again, look at the current requirements and then turn his attention to the future because I think he’ll need six players at this rate in the summer and one urgently in January.