The Independent London Newspaper
22nd October 2018

EYEWITNESS: Steve Barnett's view on Arsenal 1 Wolves 0


    EYEWITNESS report from STEVE BARNETT, sports editor


    IT was a victory that shouldn't cover up the cracks. 

    I know it's hard not to get lost in the last-gasp celebrations ignited  by Nicklas Bendtner's injury-time winner against 10-men Wolves today. 

    The truth is, however, that Arsenal were within a minute of throwing away their title-chances at the Emirates, and the biggest frustration arguably lied at the feet of Theo Walcott. 

    The nervy fans almost seemed unsure whether they should cheer the pacy forward, or boo him. 

    He seems unable to beat a player, or find that killer pass when the Gunners need it most.

    Yet, Walcott's persistence against the west  Midlands club may have earned him the Man-of-the-Match accolade. As I strolled down Seven Sisters Road before the game I over heard two  fans talking about how Walcott was going to dismantle Wolves. Even the matchday programme had a picture of him on it, next to the words "onwards and upwards". 

    Yet on the day, the World Cup hopeful put in a performance that raised  more questions than answers. First the bad, played in by Tomas Rosicky within minutes of  the kick-off only to smash the ball well-wide of the mark. The good saw Walcott ghost past defenders to set-up good chances for   

    Eduardo and Bacary Sagna, as well as testing keeper Marcus Hahnemann  with a well-struck 20-yard volley. 

    The ugly saw him display wastful touches in front of goal, none more  so than three-minutes from time when he was cleverly played in by  substitute Samir Nasri.

    Afterwards Arsene Wenger said: "It is physically difficult for a  player to run with the pace of a 100m runner and still be able to pick  the right pass. It takes a lot out of a player". 

    The Arsenal manager must now decide whether or not to start with  Walcott in Tuesdays Champions League tie away at Barcelona. It could present the 21-year-old with the perfect stage to prove his   

    doubters wrong. 

    For now Bendtner send Arsenal to the Camp Nou in confident mood after earning his side a priceless victory. The 64th minute sub came off the bench to head home Sagna's cross and continue the Gunners' growing trend of late goals. Wolves hopes of causing an upset weren't helped by the dismissal of  Karl Henry, who was shown a straight red in the 65th minute for a  lunge on Rosicky. 


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