More red card controversy as Arsenal win at Wolves

Arsenal win 1-0 away at Wolves as Martinelli picks up controversial red card, the 15th of Arteta’s reign.

Mikel Arteta once again saw his side reduced to 10 men for the fourth time in six matches as Arsenal claimed a 1-0 victory away at Molineux. The two Gabriels made the headlines for the Gunners in very different ways with Magalhães scoring the only goal of the game from close range and Martinelli getting sent off after receiving two yellow cards. Bizarrely, both of Martinelli’s yellow cards were presented to the Brazilian forward at the same time.

In a very tight game, a first victory of 2022 was secured with a goal in the first 25 minutes and a resolute defensive performance in the final 20. Centre-half Gabriel has gone from strength to strength since signing from Lille in 2020 and can now boast another match-winning performance; the defender tapping in from close distance after Ben White’s header from a corner led to a goal-line scramble.

Gabriel taps the ball into an open net as Wolves players protest in their match against Arsenal

In the period following the goal, both teams failed to convert their chances; Ruben Semedo had an attempt from distance that appeared first to be alluding to Ramsdale but ended up flashing wide. At the other end, Arsenal found themselves agonizingly close to one of the team goals of the season. Young star Bukayo Saka picked up the ball, nutmegged wing-back Marcal, took on Daniel Podence, and then played a one-two with Martin Odegaard. Gunners supporters could almost taste the goal of the month when Saka then picked out Alexandre Lacazette near the penalty spot, but the French international disappointingly powered his strike into the hands of keeper Sa.

It wasn’t until the 69th that one of the most unique events you’ll see on a Premier League pitch occurred. Arsenal winger Martinelli pushed Podence as he took a throw-in for Wolves, the advantage was played and the Brazillian quickly then took out Chiquinho. At this point referee, Michael Oliver, showed Martinelli two yellows and then a red card. This is the only time two yellow cards have been displayed at once in a Premier League fixture. There is controversy over the red for two major reasons; some believe the second foul was not worthy of a yellow, and others believe that if the first foul was yellow-worthy then the fixture should have been stopped. Whilst the former is subjective, with each supporter having their own opinion, it appears the referee’s decision regarding the latter is actually supported by the letter of the law

With Arsenal now down to 10 men for the 15th time under manager Mikel Arteta (no other Premier League team has more than eight in that period), the North London side looked determined to display the same defensive resilience that they showed after Xhaka’s red at Anfield. Defender Rob Holding was introduced only minutes after Martinelli’s dismissal and went on to put in a notably strong performance, clearing the ball nine times in only 20 minutes. Ramsdale was called upon with only minutes to go, and once again came up big for the Gunners.

The biggest heartbreak for the Gunners will come from the events in the other box. Gabriel produced one of the passes of the season to play Lacazette in behind the Wolverhampton defence. With no pressure from opposing defenders and a free run on goal, it looked certain that the lead would be doubled. Lacazette, who was already facing criticism for his miss earlier in the game, took the ball into the box, opened up his body, and… curled it wide. With Arsenal supporters already furious that the club failed to secure the signing of a striker in the January window, big misses from their number nine will come as a slap in the face to many.

Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Wolves is in many ways a 90-minute representation of their season. A controversial red card and attacking woes that will rile up the fanbase but also a strong defensive performance, passion, and effort to secure a result that wasn’t there in previous years and another clean sheet for Aaron Ramsdale.

Arsenal moves up to fifth with the win, whilst Wolves sit in eighth. Arsenal takes on Brentford at the Emirates on the 19th whilst Wolves go away to face another North London side, Spurs, on the 13th.

Written by Sam Houston

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