Wolves 3 Arsenal 1
Wolves maintained their excellent record against the top six to clinch their first win against Arsenal in nearly 40 years on another memorable night at Molineux.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side put their fans in dreamland by leading 3-0 at half-time thanks to a superb free kick from Ruben Neves, a header from Matt Doherty and a shot from Diogo Jota, putting Wolves in sight of a historic first win over the Gunners in 22 meetings, since September 1979.
Sokratis replied with an 80th-minute header, but despite only having 29 per cent possession, Wolves were otherwise never seriously troubled as they returned to winning ways after three games, and regained seventh spot.
Jota and Jonny Otto were the pick for Wolves, but it was a superb team performance as they extended their run to 16 points against the top-six teams this season. Doherty’s importance to the team was underlined by the fact he has been involved in 15 goals this season, with eight goals and seven assists, while Jota has been directly involved in seven goals in his last five Premier League appearances at Molineux (five goals, two assists).
They also stretched their unbeaten home record to 10 games in all competitions, in what Wolves’ first home win against Arsenal at the ninth attempt, going back to October 1978.
Arsenal goalkeeper Bern Leno will have nightmares about all three goals which he could have done better with, but take no credit away from Wolves for a fully deserved victory where they showcased their counter-attacking game to the maximum in front of Molineux’s biggest crowd of the season, 31,436.
Arsenal threatened first with a shot from Henrikh Mkhitaryan but the midfielder’s effort crashed comfortably over the bar.
Wolves’ first attempt came soon after, Joao Moutinho’s measured curling shot missing the post by inches as he tried to bend the ball into the corner of the net from Matt Doherty’s cut back with Leno at full stretch.
Raul Jimenez was next to threaten as Wolves started to get the better of the Gunners, but he could only stab the ball over the bar after Willy Boly flicked on Ryan Bennett’s long throw-in.
Wolves took the lead in the 21st minute with another free kick that will live in the memory from Neves.
The Portugal international managed to whip the ball superbly up and over the wall to send a dipping curling into the net to exploit the gap Leno left to his right ,and leave the goalkeeper grasping at thin air for his fourth League goal of the season. The set-piece came after Jonny was brought down by Nacho Monreal 25 yards out.
Neves threatened again when Arsenal failed to get to grips with Jota, as he was fouled by Laurent Koscielny. But this time the midfielder’s free kick was deflected just off target.
Ryan Bennett got too much on his header from the resulting corner swung in by Joao Moutinho and nodded wide.
That one might have missed the target, but the next set-piece brought Wolves’ second goal, in the 37th minute. Jonny exchanged passes with Moutinho and the Spanish wing back curled in a inviting cross which Doherty met before the on-rushing Leno, who had come out to punch the ball clear but got nowhere near it.
Wolves made it 3-0 in time added on just before half-time. Arsenal gave the ball in their own half but there was still plenty for Jota to do. However he sped past Sokratis and outpaced Mkhitaryan before firing a powerful low, left-foot drive under the dive of Leno.
Arsenal tried to step things up after the break but struggled to penetrate a determined rearguard action from Wolves.
Instead it was Wolves who created another chance, but the unmarked Jota couldn’t convert after Jimenez squared from the right.
There was a scare for Wolves when Alexandre Lacazette tumbled under challenge from Bennett, but referee Stuart Attwell was unmoved.
Jimenez worked tirelessly but it wasn’t his night in front of goal as he fired an angled shot wide after being picked out by Jonny.
Arsenal’s late reply came when Sokratis rose highest to plant a downward header into the net from Grani Xhaka’s corner.
But Wolves didn’t have much trouble hanging on as they smothered Arsenal’s threat to seal another special night.
Wolves: Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Neves, Dendoncker, Moutinho (Gibbs-White 90’), Jonny; Jimenez (Traore 83), Jota (Cavaleiro 78).
Subs: Ruddy (gk), Vinagre, Saiss, Costa.
Arsenal: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal, Torreira (Guendouzi 59), Xhaka, Mkhitaryan (Kolasinac 59’), Ozil, Iwobi (Nketiah 71), Lacazette.
Subs: Cech (gk), Mustafi, Elneny, Willock.
Referee: Stuart Attwell.