Arsenal Analysed: 5 keys to success at Wolves

Wolves analysis

Two days on from our 2-0 win away to Wolverhampton Wanderers, Adrian Clarke explains five reasons we managed to get back to winning ways at Molineux Stadium.

From sheer athleticism to clever throw-ins, here are the areas where we excelled...

Powerhouse display from Declan

It was fitting that a barnstorming 40-yard driving run and pass from Declan Rice helped to set up Martin Odegaard’s match-sealing second goal. Our record signing cut an impressive figure throughout this match, leading by example in and out of possession.

He was our sole defensive midfielder at Molineux, but never looked inhibited or restricted by that responsibility, regularly joining in to prompt attacks.

Rice had four shots on goal, two of which tested Jose Sa.

A sign of our dominance - and his desire to support our forays forward - is that 27 of his 55 successful passes were inside the final third; with only Bukayo Saka (35) managing more than that in an Arsenal shirt.

The England international also produced a game-high five key passes.

Rice - passing chalkboard


Rice - shots and defending chalkboard


Rice, who almost covered 12km with his running, showed terrific leadership and initiative, on and off the ball.

On a night where patience and drive were of all equal importance, his quality decision-making shone through.

Pushing ourselves

Successive defeats coupled with a punishing schedule could have left Mikel Arteta’s players feeling sorry for themselves, but there was a wonderful appetite on show from the men in red.

Despite being fatigued, the Gunners ran as hard as they possibly could to secure three valuable points.

Always supporting teammates for a pass, making a stream of off the ball runs, and always dynamic in possession, this was a performance that showcased how fit this team is.

We ran more than 5km further than Wolves, making 289 extra intensive runs than the home side.

20th April - Molineux Wolves Arsenal
Distance covered (km) 111.45 116.66
Intensive runs 2834 3123
Touches in opposition box 6 52

It was noticeable throughout that whenever we got onto the front foot, we wanted to fill the Wolverhampton Wanderers box with as many bodies as possible.

These two freeze frames from the goals we scored highlight the collective desire to get into goalscoring positions.

Ode goal

Enjoying 46 more touches inside the Wolves penalty area than they managed in ours, that number is a sign of the ambition and dominance we displayed.

Every player pushed themselves to try and make the difference.

Clever throws

Restarts from throw-ins didn’t win us this match, but I was impressed by our sharpness and invention from those situations.

Late on in injury time, just before we scored our second goal, Gabriel Martinelli drew a splendid save out of keeper Sa, following a quality move from a Jakub Kiwior throw.

Using Kai Havertz as his target, Rice made a smart supporting run before slipping the Brazilian in behind Wolves’ back three.

It was a simple ‘up back and through’ executed to perfection.


During the second half Leandro Trossard also forced a corner down the right wing from a move that began with him receiving a throw-in from left back Kiwior.

Rice and Odegaard cleverly drew their markers forward by taking up deeper positions that deliberately opened a hole for Trossard to spin into….


Moments later after moving the ball right, the Belgian received a pass from Bukayo Saka that allowed him to drive up the right flank at pace.

This was not an off-the-cuff piece of football; it was clearly an idea the team had worked on.

Plus-points aplenty

Our build-up play was smooth and confident all evening.

Ben White deserves praise for his near-perfect distribution, completing 70 of his 73 passes.

He constantly fed a rejuvenated Saka (with 25 passes in total) and kept the flow of our moves going in an effortlessly efficient manner.

White to Saka

Kai Havertz and Martin Odegaard also fired off five shots apiece, finding pockets of space inside the final third on a frequent basis.

Used up front as a central striker, Gabriel Jesus’ effervescent style played a part in that.

He dragged Wolves defenders out of position in order to open up additional room for those two attacking midfielders to run into.

One of the home centre backs usually followed Jesus, and as you can see from his heat map below, the Brazilian popped up just about everywhere in his desire to impact the game.

When you also consider the strength and brilliant hold up play, he conjured under pressure from Matt Doherty to set up Trossard’s goal, it is fair to say Jesus should be happy with his performance.

Jesus heat

Clean sheet mentality

Keeping their discipline and focus exceptionally well, we have now kept a clean sheet in each of our last six Premier League away games.

Aside from one brilliant reflex save from David Raya to deny Joao Gomes in the first half, Wolves never really looked like piercing a resolute rearguard that limited the home side to very little in the way of goalscoring opportunities.

Positionally excellent and assertive when we needed to be, Gary O’Neil’s side could not penetrate us.

Only Chelsea in December 2008 and Manchester United in February 2009 (both 7) have enjoyed longer shutout runs away from home in the competition’s history.

That’s now 15 Premier League clean sheets for the season too, five more than any other side.

This level of solidity has given us a platform to challenge for the title.

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