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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at Emirates Stadium

Arsenal show how they are emulating the Henry - Bergkamp blueprint for glory

Arsenal (2) 2 Saka 6, Odegaard 13

Wolverhampton Ws (0) 1 Cunha 86

Get your work done as quickly as possible. Save as much energy as you can for battles ahead.

During the glory days under Arsene Wenger, it was not uncommon to see the Gunners all-but settle the outcome of matches in the opening 20 minutes.

Blitzing it from the start, the old Highbury legends would often tear into opponents before the visitors had a chance to settle. Often, before they knew it, it was 2-0 or 3-0 and the points were as good as in the bag.

The Gunners did not quite do to Wolves what they had done to Lens in midweek, when they went 5-0 up before half-time, but the approach was just the same.

Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard's early strikes had the league leaders in their comfort zone with less than a quarter of an hour played. Thierry Henry and Denis Bergkamp would have been proud.

The afternoon was not entirely decided by that salvo, as some sloppy defending allowed Matheus Cunha to halve the deficit five minutes from time to make it a bit too close for comfort. But the approach was sound.

It is not just the physical energy that is spared, it is also the mental energy and stress. Chasing an opening goal against stubborn opponents can be draining.

With a crazy December fixture list for everyone, keeping some powder dry is more or less essential.

Only six minutes had passed before the Gunners were ahead.

After some intricate close passing, Saka took delivery of Takehiro Tomiyasu's touch forward, and burst past a weak challenge from Craig Dawson before drilling low past Jose Sa with his right foot.

It did not stay that way for long. Another sweet move proved too much for Wolves and when Oleksandr Zinchenko pulled back from the byline, Odegaard was on hand to sweep home.

Jose Sa decided he had seen enough and made way for Dan Bentley - notionally because of injury - with less than a quarter of the game played.

There was a lull as Wolves tried to get a toe-hold but soon more chances were coming Arsenal's way. Gaby Martinelli scuffed a low shot against a post after a lightning counter-attack. Declan Rice and Gabriel Jesus also went close to adding a third.

Cunha forced David Raya into a near-post save after the break, but Wanderers otherwise failed to trouble Mikel Arteta's men unduly until dithering by Zinchenko and Rice opened up a chance that Cunha put away.

There were a few nerves at the end, despite their best laid plans. The Gunners could have done with Eddie Nketiah putting away a late chance rather than smack a post, but there was to be no late twist.

For Wolves, it was their second loss in the capital in a matter of days. At least this one was not accompanied by the VAR controversy which dogged their midweek loss at Fulham.

Gunners: (4-3-3) Raya - Tomiyasu (White 79), Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko - Odegaard (Jorginho 90+3), Rice, Trossard - Saka (Kiwior 90+3)Jesus (Nketiah 67), Martinelli (Havertz 77)

Wolves: (3-5-2) Sa (Bentley 22) - Kilman, Dawson, Toti - Semedo, Bellegrande (Sarabia 63), Traore, Doyle (Kalajdzic 90+3), Bueno (Doherty 63) - Hwang, Matheus Cunha


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