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Premier League

  • December 27, 2011
  • • 10:00 AM
  • • Emirates Stadium, London
  • Referee: S. Attwell
  • • Attendance: 59686

Arsenal 1-1 Wolves: Steven Fletcher strike cancels out early Gervinho opener as hosts fail to leapfrog Chelsea

Arsenal 1-1 Wolves: Steven Fletcher strike cancels out early Gervinho opener as hosts fail to leapfrog Chelsea

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Gunners frustrated as Hennessey produces a fine performance to nullify the hosts' attack after a header from Fletcher leveled the game following Gervinho's opener

Arsenal was held to a 1-1 draw with Wolves as the club failed to leapfrog Chelsea into fourth in the Premier League.

A goal from Gervinho looked to have given the hosts the perfect start after 10 minutes, but they were pegged back by a Steven Fletcher header in the first half. Some fine saves from Wayne Hennessey throughout the game helped keep the Midland side in it until the end.

For the Gunners, Johan Djourou was back in the team after a short spell on the sidelines following an injury picked up against Manchester City, while Theo Walcott was absent through illness.

Tomas Rosicky filled in for the pacy winger, and Aaron Ramsey was dropped to the bench in favor of Yossi Benayoun.

And it was Benayoun who played a pivotal role for the home team, sending Gervinho through on goal in the opening 10 minutes.

The striker was played onside by Ronald Zubar - who then stepped up and appealed, giving Gervinho a free run at goal, as he rounded Hennessey before coolly dispatching the ball into the bottom corner.

Arsenal was a constant threat on the break in the opening 20 minutes, with Benayoun in particular getting in behind well, even if his footwork let him down on occasion.

Robin van Persie almost extended his account for the season as he looks to break the record for goals scored in a calendar year, but slipped as he pulled the trigger with his right foot, and dragged his shot wide after being put through by Gervinho.

Van Persie was soon teasing the Wolves defenders, constantly shaping up to hit a shot with his deadly left foot before switching to his right and putting in a cross from wide on the right.

The Dutchman was later denied by a good block from Roger Johnson, and then a fine stop by Hennessey as he dived low to his right to turn the ball around the post.

Arsenal seemed very comfortable in possession, but Wolves earned themselves a way back into the match with a little over five minutes to half time.

A corner was whipped in by Nenad Milijas, but only partially cleared by the Arsenal defense. Stephen Hunt juggled the ball past Rosicky on the edge of the area, but his volleyed shot was deflected by Vermaelen into the path of Steven Fletcher.

His header across the face of goal just evaded Wojciech Szczesny and crept into the Arsenal goal for a shock equalizer.

The first half played out without any more events, but the second half began with a blow for Wolves as Zubar was forced off through injury.

Arsenal was dominant in possession as the club went in search of a second goal, and had claims for a penalty turned down as Laurent Koscielny's cross hit Christophe Berra on the arm. The ball definitely struck the Scotsman, but it would have been a harsh penalty due to his proximity to Koscielny.

And the Gunners were starting to turn their dominance into chances as the game progressed towards the final moments, with Van Persie forcing a good save from Hennessey with a free kick before Mertesacker's header was brilliantly stopped by the Welshman.

The game threatened to turn nasty as Alex Song was put into the book for kicking Fletcher before catching Hunt high on the shin, and Thomas Vermaelen tangled with Roger Johnson. Arsene Wenger wisely withdrew Song for Aaron Ramsey with time running out.

Minutes later, though, referee Stuart Attwell produced a very harsh red card for Milijas. The midfielder lost control of the ball and slid in one-footed with his leg on the floor, winning the ball in the process, with Mikel Arteta making the most of the contact.

It produced a reaction though, as both sets of fans created a truly hostile atmosphere and the game really came to life.

Arshavin almost found the top corner with a toe-poked effort with 10 minutes to go, but saw his effort slide just past the post.

Hennessey was proving to be a fine last line of defense as he blocked everything coming his way including a good stop from Vermaelen as time ticked away, and earned the draw for his team.

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