Arsenal hosted Wolves on Sunday in one of four Premier League fixtures. 

With Chelsea only managing a draw against Everton earlier in the day, the game at the Emirates presented a great chance for the Gunners to close the gap on the teams above them and stay in touch with the title pack.

Things didn’t exactly go to plan for Unai Emery, however, as Wolves raced into a 13-minute lead courtesy of an Ivan Cavaleiro goal. It remained 1-0 going into half-time, with Emery choosing to introduce Matteo Guendouzi for the second half, replacing Alex Iwobi – who was arguably one of Arsenal’s most lively players in the first 45 minutes.

Arsenal finally piled the pressure on Wolves in the second half, hitting the post and forcing Rui Patricio into a number of smart saves. The pressure finally told in the 86th minute when Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s cross to the far post found its way into the back of the net, earning Arsenal a draw and maintaining their unbeaten run – although Wolves’ threat on the counter-attack never allowed the Arsenal faithful to sit comfortably in the stands.

Here are three things we learned from Arsenal 1-1 Wolves.

1. Gunners fire blanks

Unai Emery has had Arsenal looking really, really good this season. Some of the football being played by the Gunners has been scintillating at times, with the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil pulling teams apart.

However, we didn’t see any of that against Wolves. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men, admittedly, defended well and sat deep to frustrate the north London club, but Arsenal just didn’t move the ball fast enough at the Emirates. Their play was laboured, with Granit Xhaka looking particularly sloppy, and Emery’s side failed to generate any pace or fluency in their play – Lacazette and Aubameyang looked like totally isolated figures at times.

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This made it easy for Wolves to maintain their defensive shape and although Arsenal did finally get a late equaliser through Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the newly promoted side were good value for their draw and desperately unlucky not to hold for a famous win.

2. Super sub-Mkhitaryan shows Arsenal’s backbone

Arsenal were really poor against Wolves. However, something was different about the Gunners heading into the final 15 minutes compared to previous Arsenal sides we’ve seen trying to overturn a deficit.

Rather than allowing frustration to take over, the crowd to turn and throwing the game plan out of the window, Unai Emery made sure his players stuck to the task and kept to the game plan – a real feature of Emery’s early Arsenal reign has been the work rate and attitude of his squad. This paid off when Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s cross to the far post evaded everyone and found its way into the back of Rui Patricio’s goal in the 86th minute.

Yes, it was a slightly fortuitous goal, but Arsenal had been ramping up the pressure, hitting the woodwork and forcing Rui Patricio into some fine saves. It wasn’t the win Emery would have wanted at home, but staying patient and keeping to the task may just have earned Arsenal a point that could be very valuable come the end of the season.

3. Wolves’ back five look the real deal

Arsenal were blunt in attack for large parts on Sunday, but so much credit for that should go to the Wolves back five. Conor Coady, Willy Boly and Ryan Bennett were immense in the Wolves three-man centre-back line-up, while Jonny and Matt Doherty were tireless and dynamic in their wing-back roles.

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Coady, in particular, was a pillar of strength at the heart of the defence and looks totally at ease wearing that captain’s armband. The Midlands side’s back five were unlucky to concede via Mkhitaryan’s missed cross, but Nuno Espirito Santo will take great pride from the performance. He will also look back on the point earned as a valuable one and can look forward to future trips to the Premier League’s top sides in the knowledge that his team has the discipline and resolution to go toe-to-toe with the elite.

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