Gunners held by 10-man Wolves

The Gunners were ahead after just eight minutes through Gervinho.

However Wolves, struggling at the other end of the table, rallied

and levelled on 38 minutes through Steven Fletcher. The visitors

survived the second-half dismissal of midfielder Nenad Milijas as

keeper Wayne Hennessey denied the home side time and again. After a

bright start by Wolves, Arsenal broke quickly to take the lead on

eight minutes. Thomas Rosicky fed Yossi Benayoun, whose pass split

the Wolves defence as Gervinho beat the offside trap to race clear.

The Ivory Coast frontman, set to soon be away at the African

Nations Cup, waited for keeper Hennessey to commit himself, before

cutting back inside and then rolling the ball into the net between

the two defenders on the line. Wolves looked in danger of being

overrun, as following their positive start, the visitors were

forced to defend deeper and deeper. Gervinho darted clear again and

fed Robin van Persie on the right side of the penalty area, but for

once the Dutchman – chasing the record for goals in 2011 – was off

target as he skewed the ball well wide of the far post. Benayoun,

on loan from Chelsea, was producing an all-action display and

charged down the left – only to stumble over the ball when in the

penalty area. Van Persie continued to look for the opening, his

chip headed over by Wolves defender Stephen Ward. To their credit,

Wolves had weathered the storm somewhat, only to then almost hit

the self-destruct button when skipper Karl Henry lost the ball to

van Persie. He fed Rosicky on the edge of the box who in turn laid

a pass off to Mikel Arteta and his angled drive was blocked by

Ward. Van Persie then saw his low strike turned around the post by

Hennessey. Out of nothing, Wolves were level on 38 minutes. Arsenal

failed to clear a corner, which Stephen Hunt lobbed back in. His

shot was deflected and Fletcher guided a header into the far

corner. Arsenal immediately went on the offensive, but Wolves were

more confident and calmly saw their way through to half-time. The

Gunners upped the tempo after the restart, but failed to find a

telling pass in the final third. In the 57th minute, Laurent

Koscielny’s cross struck Christophe Berra on the arm, but referee

Stuart Attwell was not interested – and instead showed a yellow

card to Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen for complaining. Arsenal

had a free-kick when Gervinho was bundled over by Karl Henry 22

yards out, just left of centre. Van Persie clipped the ball towards

the top corner, with Hennessey touching it over at full stretch.

Per Mertesacker’s close-range header was then scrambled clear by

the busy Wolves keeper. Rosicky swept the ball wide from 20 yards

after a persistent run by Koscielny. With tempers at boiling point,

Atwell brandished his red card on 75 minutes after a studs-up

sliding challenge by Milijas on Arteta. Van Persie’s shot on the

turn was deflected behind as Arsenal laid siege to the Wolves goal,

with substitute Andrey Arshavin then clipping the outside of the

post. Hennessey pushed away another goal-bound free-kick from van

Persie, before Marouane Chamakh came on for Johan Djourou to give

the Gunners another attacker in the closing five minutes. The

Morocco striker clashed heads with van Persie at a corner, which

left the Arsenal skipper momentarily out of action. Vermaelen was

denied by an inspired Hennessey before Wolves held out through six

minutes of stoppage time.