McCarthy spellbound watching Wolves being 'murdered'
Published 14/02/2011 | 05:00
Mick McCarthy's verdict was as clear as the gulf between these two sides.
"They've slapped us, they've murdered us, from one to 11," the Wolves manager said. "We've had a comprehensive 'doing'. It's the first time this season that's happened, but they were better than us. They absolutely pumped us. I've got a big mark on my a**e where I've had it kicked. I'm going home."
McCarthy stood corrected -- Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was outstanding.
"He's had a great game," McCarthy agreed. "But for him, we would have been talking about five or six (goals) because they were fantastic."
It wasn't until the 90th minute, with substitute Sylvan Ebanks-Blake side-footing over the bar, that Wolves threatened Arsenal's goal and the only concern for Arsene Wenger is that old chestnut -- how many chances Arsenal wasted. Too many, and not least from Theo Walcott who could -- who should -- have had a hat-trick.
Certainly, anyone arriving at the Emirates wondering whether there would be a hangover from Arsenal's capitulation away to Newcastle United last Saturday, or a fillip from Wolves' victory over Manchester United, were quickly disabused.
Arsenal were utterly dominant from the first whistle -- often overly pedantic. They didn't exactly play within themselves -- there was too much brio for that -- but tackles were, perhaps, not as full-blooded as usual and Wenger needed no second invitation to withdraw Robin van Persie and Jack Wilshere at the earliest opportunity once the points were secure.
What was also significant was the way in which Wenger ordered his players to press high up the field -- in Barca's style -- and it provided a useful warm-up for Wednesday's clash with the Catalan giants after Van Persie reached Cesc Fabregas' clever dinked cross to execute a falling volley to beat Hennessey.
The Welsh goalkeeper then produced a series of fine stops -- not least from his own defender Richard Stearman -- before Arsenal crowned it all with a sweeping second goal.
There were five first-time passes transforming defence to attack before Van Persie was picked out by Walcott with a low cross to side-foot past Hennessey.
Although -- under the offside rules as they stand -- it was a legitimate goal, it was tough on Wolves as Van Persie fully exploited the active/inactive distinction to be in the position to score.
It's 10 goals now in seven league matches for the Dutch striker and with Johann Djourou imperious at the back, Jack Wilshere impressive in midfield and Walcott at his direct-running best, Arsenal move on full of belief.
"We couldn't do anything," McCarthy later admitted, while rightly asserting that contests such as these will not shape Wolves' destiny. Many a coach in La Liga this season have said something similar when they have faced Barcelona.
It's set for an epic confrontation. (© Daily Telegraph, London)