Ozil return cannot prevent Arsenal drift to another deflating home draw
Arsenal 1 Wolverhampton Ws 1
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his 50th Arsenal goal, but the Gunners threw away a winning position on home soil for the second week in a row.
The return of Mesut Ozil gave Emirates Stadium the lift it badly needed after the Granit Xhaka controversy of a week ago but the German could not quite inspire the win and there were a few boos of frustration at the end from home fans.
In truth, Wanderers were good value for a point as they extended their unbeaten run to six games.
Ozil was good on his return and link-up play with Aubameyang was often a joy to behold for Arsenal fans, who have made their feelings known in recent weeks about the absence of their most creative player.
Ozil’s languid style divides opinions, but his passing elevates the play. He certainly played a part in ensuring there was no repeat of last week’s toxic atmosphere against Palace when skipper Granit Xhaka was targeted for booing and riled fans with his gestures when he was subbed off.
Had it not been for the teasing reminders from Wolves fans, it would have been possible to forget about the absent midfielder altogether.
The 21st minute goal which put Arsenal in front owed much to the work of Alexandre Lacazette, who had an excellent first 45, which included winning a couple of meaty tackles.
It was the Frenchman’s turn around Wolves skipper Conor Coady and pass which gave Aubameyang all the time he needed to slot the ball into the bottom corner beyond Rui Patricio in the Wolves goal. It was his ninth goal of the season.
Bernd Leno ensured Arsenal stayed in front going into the break, keeping out a decent hit from a marauding Matt Doherty for Wolves.
But the Gunners’ often suspect defence had too many dicey moments for comfort, with Ruben Neves twice going close with shots from outside the area and with wing backs Adama Traore and Diogo Jota causing trouble, the half was by no means one-sided.
Wolves saw plenty of the ball throughout and always looked like they had a goal or two in them. Soon after the resumption, Leno was diving at full stretch to tip away another angled attempt from the dangerous Neves. It was a warning of what was to come.
The Gunners were causing their fans to have palpitations because of their insistence on passing out from defence while often hemmed in by pressing Wolves midfielders and forwards and they were often discomfited by the visitors’ work rate.
Wolves drew level on 76 minutes in simple fashion. A throw towards the byline was hooked back across goal by Joao Moutinho and Raul Jimenez rose up at the far post ahead of Calum Chambers to nod down past Leno.
There could not be too many complaints from boss Unai Emery though, because Arsenal simply did not create enough in the second half to force the issue.
Line-up: Leno – Chambers, Sokratis, David Luiz, Tierney (Kolasinac 88) – Ozil, Torreira (Saka 73), Guendouzi, Ceballos – Aubameyang, Lacazette (Martinelli 60). Subs not used: Martinez, Bellerin, Pepe, Willock.