Wolves 3 Arsenal 1: Stunning first-half display hurts Arsenal's top-four hopes

Ruben Neves, Matt Doherty and Diogo Jota were on target as Wolves inflicted a second consecutive Premier League defeat on Arsenal.

Wolves 3 Arsenal 1: Stunning first-half display hurts Arsenal's top-four hopes

Arsenal's hopes of securing a top-four place were dealt a blow as Wolves cruised to a 3-1 Premier League win at Molineux on Wednesday.

Any thoughts the Gunners would return to winning ways after Sunday's damaging defeat to Crystal Palace were extinguished during a 17-minute spell in the first half, which saw Wolves score three times.

Ruben Neves got the side up and running with a glorious free-kick shortly before the half-hour mark, while Matt Doherty and Diogo Jota put the game to bed before the interval after some generous defending from Unai Emery's side.

Defeat leaves Arsenal – which scored a late consolation through Sokratis Papastathopoulos – a point behind fourth-place Chelsea, while Wolves is now one point ahead of Watford in seventh.

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Arsenal dominated the early exchanges but it was Wolves which carved out the first clear openings, Joao Moutinho whipping wide from 20 yards and Raul Jimenez prodding over from close range.

Neves' fourth goal of the campaign set the side on its way after 28 minutes, the Portugal international curling a 25-yard free-kick inside Bernd Leno's right-hand post, before Doherty headed Jonny's cross past the flailing German goalkeeper nine minutes later.

Jota then rounded off a stunning first-half display, jinking past two defenders and squeezing a low shot through the weak resistance of the beleaguered Leno.

An Arsenal comeback failed to materialise in the second period and Jimenez should have added a fourth for the host after 68 minutes, the Mexico striker blazing wide after a flowing move.

Sokratis headed home Granit Xhaka's corner 10 minutes from time but the damage had been done during that blistering first-half spell as Wolves secured a first-ever Premier League win against the Gunners.

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What does it mean? Arsenal woeful, Wolves shining on the big stage

Arsenal was rotten and can consider itself fortunate to still be in with a shot of qualifying for next season's Champions League with three matches left to play. A combination of haphazard defending and impotent attacking was its downfall and it will need a dramatic improvement if it is to sneak into the top four.

Wolves, meanwhile, has exceeded all expectations during its first season back in the Premier League and put in another performance that suggests it fully deserves its current status as 'the best of the rest'. Carry on like this and it could well be pushing for a top-six spot next season.

Neves thinks outside the box

The 22-year-old has scored a host of stunning goals from long distance since his arrival from Porto and he added another to his highlight reel with a glorious free-kick that gave Leno no chance. From then, Wolves did not look back.

Leno lets Gunners down

Leno has largely impressed since taking over the gloves from Petr Cech earlier in the campaign, but he had a game to forget at Molineux. His attempt to claim Jonny's cross for Wolves' second was pitiful and he should have done better with Jota's low strike.

Key Opta Facts:

- Wolves has ended its 20-game winless streak against Arsenal (D4 L16), with this its first victory against the Gunners in all competitions since September 1979.
- This is Arsenal's heaviest Premier League defeat against a promoted team since a 2-0 loss to Newcastle United in May 1994.
- Wolves is one of three promoted sides to have beaten at least four sides to finish that season in the top six in a single Premier League campaign, after Sunderland in 1996-97 and Blackburn in 1992-93.
- It is also the first promoted team to earn 50 points in a Premier League season since Birmingham in 2009-10.
- Neves has more goals (4) than he has touches (3) in the opposition's box in the Premier League this season.

What's next?

Wolves travels to its rivals for a seventh-place finish, Watford, on Saturday, while Arsenal looks to get back on track when it visits Leicester City a day later.