Gabriel's tap-in leaves Molineux in ruins as Arsenal dispatch Wolves 1-0 following tenacious display
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-1 Arsenal
Arsenal avenged last season’s back-to-back defeats at the hands of Wolverhampton to come away from Molineux with all three points thanks to Gabriel Magalhaes’ 25th-minute tap-in.
It was Wolves’ first defeat in six games as Arsenal have moved up to fifth and within a single point of West Ham but with two games in hand.
Today’s game proved that the unity and harmony in the squad are more important than the star names.
There will be days when the Gunners wish they didn't let Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang go but with this togetherness anything is possible, even third place, especially if Chelsea won’t learn how to close out games.
Early in the game Ben White had a shot blocked on inside the area before Alexandre Lacazette failed to get on the end of a tailor-made cross from Cedric Soares down the right.
Arsenal lacked conviction in the final ball but were getting in their stride and it didn’t take long for them to shatter the deadlock.
Mikel Arteta’s men were up and running after 25 minutes when Gabriel Magalhaes pounced on a defensive mix-up from the Wolves defence following a corner to put his side ahead with the simplest of finishes.
Wolves made a hash of clearing their lines and Arsenal scored a scrappy goal. Conor Coady cleared the ball into the path of Ben White before the £50 million signing from Brighton headed it to Lacazette whose flick was just enough to take the ball away from a diving Jose Sa and tee up Gabriel, who free like a bird, tapped the ball into the empty net.
Lacazette, out of contract in the summer, hardly made a convincing case for a new contract at the Emirates as he had two chances either side of 45 minutes to add to Arsenal’s tally.
The former Olympique Lyonnais marksman first slammed an effort straight into the arms of Sa after a pinpoint first-time low delivery from Bukayo Saka.
And set free by a well-weighted through ball from Granit Xhaka, the Frenchman kept his composure but opened his body up way too much before slotting his effort just wide to the despair of Arteta.
The indefatigable Xhaka, who was monstruous on the back foot and when in possession, had a hand in preserving Arsenal’s lead minutes after Gabriel’s opener when he crucially took the ball away from Romain Saiss, who was ready to nod home at the far post following Marcal’s cross.
But the goal served as a wake-up call for Bruno Lage’s men who finally cranked up the pressure.
Raul Jimenez soared highest from Nelson Semedo’s cross but despite the good execution it ended up straight into Aaron Ramsdale’s hands.
Then the former Barcelona left-back had a go himself, but his effort from outside the box fizzed just wide.
On the stroke of half-time, Bukayo Saka showed why he could be a man in high-demand in summer as the hotshot, who missed England’s decisive penalty in the final of Euro 2020, bamboozled the hosts’ defence on his own before hitting a first-time low cross for Lacazette after a one-two with a teammate.
But the Frenchman failed to add to his three league goals this campaign when, unmarked, he sent a shot too close to Ramsdale as the first period ended with the dominant Gunners feeling hard done by their inability to nick a second goal which their display more than warranted.
And Wolves looked rejuvenated by Lage’s pep talk at half-time.
And on their return from the dressing room, they began to ask serious questions of Arsenal's defence.
Daniel Podence first blazed an effort over the crossbar, then had one blocked behind for a corner.
Wolves had improved through the lines and were causing Arsenal all sorts of problems with their rhythm and unpredictability but their end product wasn't up to scratch.
Gabriel Martinelli complicated Arsenal’s plans after he had his name taken twice bin the space of 30 seconds by the referee.
In the 72nd minute, Lacazette fluffed his lines before Ramsdale had to tip over Saiss’ effort at the other end less than 100 seconds later as the game had turned into an end-to-end spectacle.
The former Bournemouth and Sheffield United goalkeeper then had to dip Leander Dendoncker’s header behind for a corner as Arsenal were just about hanging in.
And in the end Brazilian defender Gabriel’s goal proved the difference as Arsenal players, fans and Arteta alike are once again dreaming about the Champions League.
A competition which the Emirates Stadium hasn't hosted for five years.
1 Jose Sa- 5 Marcal- 8 Ruben Navas- 9 Raul Jimenez- 10 Daniel Podence – 11 Francisco Trincao- 16 Conor Coady- 22 Nel Semedo- 23 Maximilian Kilian- 27 Romain Saiss- 32 Leander Dendoncker
32 Aaron Ramsale- 3 Kieran Tierney- 4 Ben White- 5 Thomas Partey- 6 Gabriel Magalhaes- 7 Bukayo Saka- 8 Martin Odegaard- 9 Alexandre Lacazette- 17 Cedric Soares- 34 Granit Xhaka- 35 Gabriel Martinelli