Arsenal hosted Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Emirates on Saturday and sealed all three points to stay at the top of the Premier League standings for yet another matchday.
Goals from Bukayo Saka and captain Martin Ødegaard in the first half were instrumental for the Gunners to seal their victory even though they conceded a goal later on in the second half.
Here are three things were learnt from Arsenal's win.
3 things we learnt from Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over Wolves
1. Arsenal are back to playing the fluid football they did last season
The only two goals scored by Arsenal came from a period of intense and well-coordinated football in the first half. The team controlled the game for the entirety of the first 45 minutes, having 60% of the possession and completing 100 passes more than Wolves.
This performance helped them get their two important goals. The first goal was scored by the man in form; Bukayo Saka. However, the goal that followed it was a prime example of ‘Artetaball’.
A sequence of play between Declan Rice, Bukayo Saka, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Gabriel Jesus and Martin Ødegaard helped the Gunners double their advantage.
“It's beautiful really,” Ian Wright said about the second goal in the post-match discussion. “Because once this ball [from Saka] goes in you can see the three [Wolves] midfielders and none of them are doing anything, not really picking anyone up.”
“But this is where it gets quick, bang, bang, this is the quality, this is how you move teams around and then if they break tight enough then they [Arsenal] will punish them and that is what Arsenal can do,” Wright added.
Mikel Arteta’s side finshed the game with a pass accuracy rate of 88%, completing 545 passes off their attempted 617 passes. In their previous game, they dominated Ligue 1 side RC Lens and won the game 6-0. Even here, the Gunners completed 87% of their passes. These stats point to a clear return of fluidity in play.
This is the form Arteta’s men must continue if they desire to win titles.
2. Captain Ødegaard is back
Martin Ødegaard has enjoyed an impressive run of form since returning to the squad. In his last four games, the Norwegian has scored three goals across all competitions.
In yesterday’s game alone, the 24-year-old midfielder had a pass accuracy of 89%, created 6 big chances, and capped off a brilliant display by scoring a goal.
These top-class performances point towards a proper return of the Arsenal captain. As the saying goes: form is temporary, class is permanent.
3. Arsenal must capitalise on their chances
Although the Gunners did well to get the three points against Wolves, they seemed to get caught out a lot more often towards the end of the second half. It is something we saw plenty of last season.
Speaking on the shift in momentum in the post-match discussion, Ian Wright said: “The worry was seeing Arsenal dropping deeper and deeper [into their own half]. I don’t know if it's anything to do with the substitutions, Saka and Ødegaard going off.”
“But it did feel like we [Arsenal] dropped a little bit deeper and lost a bit of control and that's where Wolves pushed up and forced a mistake,” Wright concluded.
While Arsenal did have the momentum, there were moments where sloppiness in possession could have cost them a win. To their luck, the only consequence yesterday was the loss of a clean sheet.
The Gunners had a total of 19 shots against Wolves, but were able to convert only on two occasions. Arteta will surely be taking target practice sessions more intensely because you simply cannot afford to rue missed chances when competing at this level.
There was a worry for injury with Tomiyasu as he was subbed off after he was seen holding his calf in pain. However, Mikel Arteta confirmed that the substitution was solely to rest the player and avoid fatigue.
While Arsenal seem to be back to their best football, they must improve on their second half performances and work on taking all their chances to score. When facing teams of higher quality, these chances do not come easily and it can be punishing if you cannot capitalise on them.