Arsenal will go into Christmas with a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League after Martin Odegaard’s double secured victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Though dominating possession, the Gunners looked far from potent in the first half and the best chance fell at the other end when Goncalo Guedes intercepted William Saliba’s backpass but failed to hit the target.
The deadlock was broken ten minutes into the second half when Gabriel Jesus played a ball into the path of substitute Fabio Vieira on the by-line and his dinked centre was turned in by the Gunners skipper.
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The Norwegian midfielder’s second goal sealed the win and it came after Wolves stopper Jose Sa had blocked Gabriel Martinelli’s shot with his legs, but the follow up proved impossible to keep out.
With Manchester City losing earlier in the day, Arsenal now sit pretty five points clear at the top, while in contrast Wolves prop up the Premier League two points behind Southampton.
Worry for Switzerland over skipper – Granit Xhaka has had a fine first half of the season and few players have successfully turned around the affections in which they are held in by a big club in this country so starkly. He was likely to be just as important for Switzerland in Qatar. A team who beat Portugal, Spain and the Czech Republic in consecutive games this year have a fair chance of upsetting the favoured Brazil and Serbia in Group G. So the sight of their captain collapsing to his haunches in the second minute of play and then leaving the field in the 15th minute will be particularly disheartening. Their first game is in 12 days against Cameroon and Murat Yakin will dearly hope the midfielder is available and fully fit for then.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Martin Odegaard (Arsenal) – When a side is not playing their best they need their leaders to step up. Odegard was not the most obvious choice for skipper when handed the armband by Mikel Arteta but has shown himself to be a fine option. His desire got him to the ball first for the first goal and his composure enabled him to score the second. Two fine qualities in a leader.
Wolves: Jose Sa 6; Semedo 6, Collins 6, Kilman 6, Toti 6; Hugo Bueno 6; Boubacar Traore 6, Ruben Neves 7, Moutinho 6; Adama Traore 6, Guedes 7.
Subs: Podence 7, Lembikisa 5, Nunes 6.
Arsenal: Ramsdale 6; White 7, Saliba 6, Gabriel 6, Zinchenko 7; Partey 7, Xhaka 6; Saka 7, Odegaard 8*, Martinelli 6; Jesus 6.
Subs: Vieira 7, Soares, Nelson, Elneny.
44′ AWFUL ERROR FROM SALIBA! Guedes judged where his attempted backpass was heading and controlled the ball but his shot was heading wide of the goal, even if it had not deflected off Gabriel.
52′ GOAL FOR ARSENAL! Jesus slips a ball through for Vieira who clips a ball from near the by-line past Sa and Odegaard taps home to put his side in front.
75′ GOAL FOR ARSENAL! Odegard scores again. Martinelli’s effort was blocked by Sa’s legs but Odegard took his time with the follow-up, teeing himself up and then driving his effort into the net.
89′ RAMSDALE TIPS OVER THE BAR! Podence has been lively since he’s come on and the England international had to be on his game to put over the bar.
- 15 – The number of years since Arsenal were top at Christmas.
- 7 – Arsenal have won seven of their last eight games.
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