Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence continued Arsenal’s dismal home form as Wolves left the Emirates with a 2-1 win, with Raul Jimenez taken to hospital suffering what appeared a serious head injury.
Jimenez was left unconscious following a clash of heads with David Luiz inside the opening minutes at the Emirates, leading to a 10-minute stoppage, but Wolves never looked back from the early loss of their talismanic forward to win at Arsenal for the first time since 1979.
Poor defending allowed Neto to fire in the rebound from an Adama Traore cross (27), but the Gunners levelled from a rare first-half attack when Gabriel nodded in Willian’s corner shortly after (30).
Brilliant individual play from Podence restored the visitors’ lead before the break (42), and despite an improved second-half performance from Arsenal, they fell to their third home defeat in a row.
A year to the day from Unai Emery’s dismissal, they now sit 14th, six places below their position when the former manager was sacked, and eight below Wolves who rise to sixth.
Wolves roar in spite of Jimenez blow
A high-intensity opening from both sides was stopped in its tracks by a sickening head injury suffered by striker Jimenez with less than five minutes gone, with a purely accidental collision with David Luiz from a corner leaving the Wolves forward out cold and taken to hospital after a 10-minute pause to put him on a stretcher.
From there, the game understandably took its time to build momentum, but once it did, it came back with a bang. First Traore was given space by Tierney to run at the Arsenal defence before picking out Dendoncker, whose poor header onto the bar was turned in on the rebound by Neto.
Within three minutes Arsenal were level. A short corner was returned to Willian who found Gabriel at the far post and the Brazilian defender made no mistake from six yards, becoming Arsenal’s second-highest scorer for the season in the process – a sign of the Gunners’ woes in front of goal.
That blow did not rock Wolves, just as they appeared to have shaken off the mental fatigue of losing Jimenez early on. Dendoncker headed into Leno’s hands from a corner of their own as they continued to press, before Neto would play a major part again as they retook the lead.
The forward was allowed to run at Luiz before his deflected shot bounced off Leno’s legs to Podence, who skilfully held onto the ball, rode a challenge and beat the goalkeeper with a composed finish.
Arsenal’s troubles were summed up by the continued ineffectiveness of Aubameyang, who touched the ball only eight times across the opening 45 minutes – with one of those to fire straight at Patricio from an angle he was never going to score from.
The Gunners came out for the second half with more urgency, but they could hardly have had less. Saka shinned a presentable opportunity wide from Tierney’s cross five minutes after the restart, but minutes later Traore found himself booked for simulation after going over the leg of Gabriel, who on second viewing appeared to have trodden on the winger’s boot.
Rob Holding, a half-time change for the clearly affected Luiz, may have levelled had he timed his jump better from a Saka cross, before Aubameyang’s lack of confidence was perfectly highlighted after robbing Patricio of the ball 18 yards out, but giving the goalkeeper long enough to get back onto his line and save his shot when it eventually came.
That marked the start of the Gunners’ real improvement, with 20 minutes to go, as Wolves nerves at the prospect a first win at Arsenal in more than 40 years became apparent.
Reiss Nelson fired over on the volley before Aubameyang headed Hector Bellerin’s inviting cross wide from a great position, but the hosts’ efforts were not enough. Their dismal home run was extended to a third consecutive defeat, as they dropped further off the pace, sandwiched between Newcastle and Crystal Palace, in 14th.
Arsenal host Rapid Vienna in the Europa League on Thursday night; kick-off at 8pm. They then travel to Tottenham in the North London Derby on Super Sunday live on Sky Sports Premier League from 4.15pm; Kick-off at 4.30pm.
Wolves’ next league game is also next Sunday, with a visit to champions Liverpool; Kick-off at 7.15pm.