The Molineux outfit scored their first away goal at Arsenal since 1984 through Steven Fletcher seven minutes before half-time to cancel out Gervinho’s early opener and then held off a very frustrated Gunners outfit for over 20 minutes with ten men following the sending off of Nenad Milijas.
The result denied Arsenal the chance to go equal on points with North London rivals Tottenham, who sit third, as Wolves went two clear of the drop zone with their first away from home in seven outings.
The opening goal came in sweeping fashion in the eighth minute when Arsenal hit Wolves on the counter with Yossi Benayoun threading a pass from midfield through to Gervinho who took a neat first touch before rounding Wayne Hennessey, who would later prove to be the hero, and finishing on his left with plenty of composure.
Wolves hadn’t really threatened the Gunners defence much but managed to get a leveler through leading scorer Fletcher in the 38th minute with a reflex header. The ball took a wicked deflection to the Scotsman from Stephen Hunt’s volley from the edge of the box and he managed to divert it past Wojciech Szczesny for his seventh of the campaign.
Throughout the contest, Arsenal had a plethora of chances starting in the 15th minute when Gervinho slipped a nice ball through for Robin van Persie who took a snapshot on his right across Hennessey’s goal when perhaps he should have taken a touch.
On the half-hour mark, van Persie managed to bounce off a Roger Johnson challenge before forcing Hennessey into a quality bottom corner save from the edge of the area five minutes prior to Tomas Rosicky stinging the palms of Hennessey from range.
The 66th minute saw van Persie’s dangerous free-kick tipped over by the Welsh gloveman moments before Per Mertesacker’s header from a clever Rosicky cross was kept out and then van Persie’s shot deflected off Christophe Berra as Arsene Wenger’s men continued to apply the pressure.
The job for Mick McCarthy’s men got even harder when Milijas was questionably sent packing for a lunge on Mikel Arteta but their defence shone through as they snuffed out another van Persie attempt in the 78th minute a couple of moments before substitute Andrey Arshavin flicked the side of the upright with a left-footed attempt from the edge of the area.
Hennessey, who ended up with 10 saves opposed to Szczesny’s none, again came up with the goods in the 83rd minute when he parried another van Persie free-kick before the Dutchman’s angled shot from close range moments after the set piece was somehow kept out by the Wolves keeper’s right foot.
With a minute of regular time remaining, Arsenal threw everything at Wolves but Hennessey was again a thorn in their side by denying Thomas Vermaelen’s effort from inside the six-yard box as the visitors held on for a smash and grab point which has dampened the Gunners’ recent good home form.
TRIBAL ASKS: Too often Arsenal drop points in matches like this when they really should win. Is it these performances which they will come to rue at season’s end?
Emirates Stadium, London – 59,686
Yellow cards: ARS - Thomas Vermaelen 57’, Alex Song 69’
WOL - Roger Johnson 32’, Adlene Guedioura 73’, Wayne Hennessey 90+1’
Red card: WOL - Nenad Milijas 75’