FT: Arsenal 1 v Wolves 1
ARSENAL dropped two valuable points today after 10 men Wolves held them to a dramatic draw at the Emirates. The Gunners would have moved back into the top four with a victory, while captain Robin van Persie was aiming to set a new club record for goals scored in a calendar year. But it wasn't to be.
Tomas Rosicky and Yossi Benayoun, who scored the winner at Aston Villa before Christmas, both started in midfield, with Aaron Ramsey on the bench, while Johan Djourou recovered from a groin problem to start in defence. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny made his 50th Arsenal appearance.
Wolves were looking to keep themselves clear of the relegation battle, and handed a first Premier League start to 18-year-old midfielder Anthony Forde, while Stephen Fletcher led the attack.
Because of a full-back injury crisis, Djourou again slotted in on the right, but was soon caught out of position as Matthew Jarvis got clear, with Per Mertesacker coming across to make a timely block.
After surviving another ball across their six-yard box, Arsenal broke quickly to take the lead in the eighth minute.
Rosicky fed Benayoun, whose pass split the Wolves defence as Gervinho beat the offside trap to race clear.
The Ivory Coast frontman, set to soon be away at the African Nations Cup, waited for keeper Wayne Hennessey to commit himself, before cutting back inside and then rolling the ball into the net between the two defenders on the line.
Out of nothing, Wolves were level on 38 minutes. Arsenal failed to clear a corner, which Stephen Hunt lobbed back in. His shot was deflected and Fletcher - played onside by Alex Song - guided a header into the far corner.
Arsenal immediately went on the offensive, but Wolves were more confident and calmly saw their way through to half-time.
A dramatic second half was shaped in the 71st minute by the sending off of Wolves' Nenad Milijas, for a bad foul of Arteta.
Arsenal then threw everything at Mick McCarthy's men but to no avail as heroic keeper Wayne Henderson pulled off a string of dazzling saves.