Analysis & Ratings: Arsenal v Wolves

Let’s be frank. wolves had nothing to put against a very solid performance by Arsenal today at the Emirates.

The Gunners outplayed Wolves when attacking and their defence – although not enough tested by Wolves in my opinion – was rock solid. wolves should actually be happy with only two goals in the back after brilliant play by the Londoners.

The starting eleven for Wolves was the one I anticipated in my pre-match writings earlier today, with Johan Djurou playing instead of Squillaci in the central defence. The best team Arsenal had available, despite them playing Barcelona midweek.

Wolves played with the team very high up the pitch, leaving them very vulnerable for fast counter attacks by especially Walcott – probably the fastest runner in British football of today.

It was Big George Elokobi who had the unenviable task of stopping Walcott, but it was of course not possible. Zubar had the same mission impossible with Arshavin on the other side.

After quarter of an hour he and Stears had to cave in to a van Persie effort at goal. Nobody took care of the star striker who could take down the ball – that came from a cross from the right side – and calmly put it out of reach for Hennessey. Bad marking from both Stearman and Zubar on that one.

Arsenal should have had a second after half an hour when Arshavin had a great chance, but Hennessey and Stears fended that one superbly. Actually we could have been down with two or three goals after the first half, but we held on to tea time with only one goal down.

A funny thing about the way Wolves formed the team was that Karl Henry – who I and everybody else expected to play as a defensive midfielder – played in the offensive role and both O’Hara and Milijas played behind him.

I haven’t a clue why McCarthy formed the team in this way when O’Hara is used to play in the forward going role and is commonly known to be very good at that and he has also shown that so far in Wolves in my opinion.

Our manager has some explaining to do as Henry did not do particularly well in the role he had in the first half. Wolves did not have a shot at goal and no chance at all and the Henry-Doyle cooperation was non-existent.

The Wolves inner midfield didn’t function at all as it did against Manchester United and the whole team looked a little listless, really.

The Wolves wingers were stopped in their actions most of the time, especially Jarvis, but Hammill was more lively and came through on many occasions, but Doyler was too lonely in old gold and black upfront and was well escorted by the Arsenal central defenders.

A faint hope remained at the start of the second half, but it was crushed ten minutes into the half when speedy Walcott ran passed Elokobi by half a mile in a counter attack and played a ungarded van Persie at the center of the area.

It was game over and despite Wolves changing to 4-4-2 and bringing on Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Foley for O’Hara and Milijas – and later on Fletcher for Doyle – we didn’t create more than a little ripple in a so stable and cool playing Arsenal team.

I believe this was the clearest defeat Wolves have had this season and there was really a difference in class between the teams.

To the ratings, then.

Hennessey – 7 – Made a couple of excellent saves that prevented Arsenal from taking the game away at an earlier time. But he also showed some insecurity while handling the ball on a couple of occasions. Despite that he was ne of our better players today and deserves Paddythefleas happy footballer (new!)

Zubar – 6 – Was partly to blame for the first goal when he didn’t mark van Persie properly or communicated to Stearman to do so and was overran on many other occasions aswell. But he also made some decent defending and came to life a bit towards the end going forward.

Stearman – 6 – The main perpetrator on the first goal. Too much ball watching. Went on a couple of forward runs to try to compensate his debacle in defence, but it stopped before getting dangerous. Did a descent game apart from that crucial miss.

Berra – 6 – Not as active in play as Stears but did no big mistakes, but should probably have helped out Elokobi more on his flank.

Elokobi – 5 – It’s not easy to try to stop Walcott, as I explained above. Missed many passes aswell, but his performance was at least slightly better than against Bolton, but not at all as good as against United.

O’Hara – 5 – As I wrote above he inexplicably played in the defensive role in the middle. Unfortunately he did not excel in that role and he did not have enough power and defensive skills to fend off the Arsenal attacks on our back four.

Milijas – 5 – Also held back by McCarthy as our formation looked like 4-2-3-1. Did not have many intentions going forward or getting the right creative passes in the deep to Doyler, Henry or the wingers. We lost the midfield to Arsenal.

Hammill – 7 – The only player who really tried for the whole game to get through the excellent Arsenal defence and he was succesful of doing so on many occassions.

He also got some cutting edge crosses in that could have resulted with more Wolves players in the box or with a defence less solid than the Arsenal one was today. He has already made a great impression at the club and proved to be a fantastic signing. Adam Hammill is Paddytheflea’s Star Player for the second time in his three games for the club!

Henry – 5 – Not convincing upfront nor in the 4-4-2 in second half with Foley. Bad connection with Doyler and no shots at goal and his long passes in the second half missed their target too many times. Please, Mick, play him as a defensive midfielder in a 4-5-1 or not at all!

Jarvis – 5 – Didn’t come to his right at all today against a very solid Arsenal defence. Had some good runs towards the end of the game, but that was all. Helped out well in defence, though. But his form curve is pointing down.

Doyle – 5 – Was he tired after the trip to and performance for Ireland and the game against United last weekend? Did not create much at all but was very well handled by the rock-hard Arsenal defence.

All others played to little time to be rated by me, but they also failed to make an impression on the game. Perhaps with the exception of Foley who looked solid in the inner midfield after coming on.


Links to Highlights from the game as always down the right margin and on my Vodpod site.


~ by paddytheflea on February 12, 2011.

18 Responses to “Analysis & Ratings: Arsenal v Wolves”

  1. Nice blog. As an Arsenal fan it’s nice to read a balanced view. Your manager showed his class as well not whinging at the result and blaming everybody else.

    I hope you stay up as you deserve to on the performances agaianst the top teams.

    • Thank you, bobbyp!
      And good luck for the rest of the season. I prefer to see you on top of the league in May to United. You are a much better team and you play a more free-flowing and beautiful game. And you have managed to get a very good team together with much smaller means than many other.

  2. Very well summed up Paddy. MM should have changed formation much earlier. We all saw that second goal coming, why not him? Baggies-match even moore crucial..

  3. Hi, an Arsenal fan here. Why on earth did Steven Fletcher not start? Did he just come back from injury? I thought he was your star man, at least he was excellent at times for Burnley last season.

    • Doyle is normally better to hold the ball up when he is the singel striker, Stone, but in this match he showed nothing. He was much better against United.

  4. What a change to read a well-balanced blog from the opposition(I am a gooner).
    I thought Wolves stuck at it well and the goalie was very good.Jarvis was contained well by the full-backs but Hammill is a star in the making and I thought Stearman was reasonable as well and Zubar has great potential.
    Never did you try to kick us and it was an entertaining game but I guess you would have wanted to work our goalkeeper more.I hope you stay up.You have every chance.WBA,Wigan and West Ham are all less talented than you.

  5. Arsenal impressed today. Fabregas and Arshavin ran, dribbled through our midfield and created a lot of chances for themself or for their strikers, a nightmare to play against. Our team formation/selection was as I hoped for. If I got the oppurtunity to change something, if we could replay the match tomorrow, then I would have used both Henry and Foley with Milijas or O’Hara on the bench to make it difficult for their midfield. When Ebanks and Foley entered, Foley played the ball forward in a very direct manner behind their defence, and created some half chances and corners. Something I missed in the first half.

    • I just looked at some stats, Karlir, and Foley had 35 correct passes in the 27 minutes he played while Henry had 40 in 93 minutes. We have four players who can play inner midfield that are better than Henry today – Foley, Milijas, O’Hara and Jones. Put Henry on the bench, he doesn’t even know how to tackle anymore! With Foley in the team from start we would have had much more of the ball and passed it forward better, faster and more frequent. I want Milijas and Foley on in a 4-4-2 + O’Hara in the offensive role in a 4-5-1.

  6. Wise words Paddy. Outclassed and outplayed today. Zhou have to put your hand up and acknowledge the class.
    Still, shame MOTD didn’t show Hammills Doyle flick and drag back leaving two of their defenders standing.
    Our game in hand next Sunday is massive. Play to our strengths and we can get 3 points. Hear that Mick? I said play to our strengths and we can get 3 points away next Sunday. Just look at our away form, look at our record at the Poorthorns >ahem<
    Come on, we can do it!
    Up the Wolves!

  7. And Henry seldom takes any chances. His priority is usually keeping the ball in possesion or distributing it safely to the wings.

  8. Nice blog Paddy. Always balanced and thoughtful.
    Oh how I would love it if we had a player who could run at defenders like Wilshere, Fabregas, Arshavin, Walcott…I honestly believe if we had even one central midfielder who didn’t either ‘hold’ in midfield, or pass the long ball we would be twice the team we are. We need a Jarvis/Hunt/Hammell in the centre. Arsenal scared the Wolves players today and they were shown up to be woefully short of pace through the middle at times. Well done Arsenal though…it was an object lesson in fast flowing football.

  9. Boys versus men out there yesterday and I thought we were very fortunate to get away with 2-0. Arsenal were outstanding, I dont believe any team in the league would have nicked anything of them yesterday.

  10. I can not believe how tight the league still is down there,If we win that game in hand we have every chance. We can still do it. So COME ON THE WOLVES.

  11. Wolves, graceful and classy in defeat, I sincerely hope you guys manage to stay up, I think you have every chance. You’re run of games must get easier from here in.

  12. Highlight of the game: Hammill’s dribble in the first half. It was sooo cool

  13. well Paddy another spot on report, I never expected anything from this game if I am honest. Arsenal are by far the best team at the moment not that the league table suggests this, but for me they play far better flowing football with such a pace they are difficult to stop. I cant help but admire their football and its a nice ground to visit. But for me our season starts now our run in should give us the best possible chance of staying up, West Brom being a difficult one as passed history suggests, but we need to pick up points from the bottom half of the table as up, as so far we have only achieved 5 points from 11th in the league down. So its in our own hands starting Sunday.

    • Yes, it all starts on Sunday, pete. Twelve games. If we manage to play 4-4-4 or better we will play Premier League football next season. Simples.

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