Early goals from Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott earned Arsenal victory over 10-man Wolves in a game that was largely decided within 11 minutes.

Sebastien Bassong saw red for bringing down Walcott, with Van Persie dinking the penalty over Wayne Hennessey.

Walcott then played a neat one-two before shooting low into the net.

Wolves went closest when Wojciech Szczesny saved Kevin Doyle's header after the break, but Yossi Benayoun then converted to seal the win.

The hosts brought centre-back Christophe Berra on to replace midfielder David Davis between the two early goals, in response to Bassong's dismissal.

Ref decision hard to take - Connor

But such is the mood at bottom-of-the-table Wolves that the crowd greeted the substitution by directing choruses of "you don't know what you're doing" at boss Terry Connor, no matter that Berra saw a header deflected just wide from a corner soon after.

The defeat was the seventh on the trot for the hosts, who stay six points behind 19th-placed Blackburn and nine points from safety with five games left.

For Arsenal, whose fine end-of-season form continues, the result keeps them third and moves them five points ahead of fourth-placed Tottenham.

That gap could grow to eight points before Spurs play again, should the Gunners beat Wigan next Monday, and with Van Persie returning to goalscoring form after a four-game drought, they will be favourites to stay ahead of their north London rivals.

Robin's reliant

  • Robin van Persie has now scored as many goals in all competitions as the entire Wolves team have in the league

The Dutchman's cute penalty after he set Walcott free on eight minutes was his 33rd goal of the season and his 45th in 50 Premier League games.

And his combination with Walcott to set up the second goal, cutting through the home defence, effectively ended the game as a contest before it was quarter of an hour old.

The England winger scored his 11th of the season, just two short of his best tally for the Gunners, though he was booed by the home supporters for what they considered a dive for the spot-kick.

With the ironic cheers for consecutive Wolves passes and any decisions awarded to the hosts by referee Neil Swarbrick, at one stage Molineux felt more like a pantomime rather than a football match.

Yet Connor's side improved after the break as Doyle and substitute Nenad Milijas were denied by brilliant Szczesny saves.

Wenger has not set points target

In fairness, Arsenal's sloppiness was a factor in that revival, with Van Persie and Aaron Ramsey, starting in place of Tomas Rosicky, wasting good chances.

But once Benayoun tucked in from the edge of the area on 69 minutes, after Alex Song's pull-back, the result was confirmed.

It had looked a long road to salvation for Wolves before the game, but with Wigan and QPR both winning it may now be an impossible one.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger:

"It is important for a striker, even like Robin van Persie who was not used to not scoring in the season, to find the net.

"He equalled the record of Ian Wright who scored against 17 different teams out of 19 in the Premier League.

"That is absolutely remarkable in the modern game to be able to do that. I'd like to congratulate him on that.

"It was overall a fantastic win. I'm very happy to be in this position but also very cautious as some teams were in the position we are in now before."

Lineup, Bookings (4) & Substitutions (5)

Wolverhampton Wanderers

  • 01 Hennessey
  • 05 Stearman
  • 11 Ward
  • 21 Bassong Dismissed
  • 23 Zubar Booked
  • 04 Edwards (Milijas - 53' )
  • 07 Kightly Booked
  • 08 Henry
  • 17 Jarvis
  • 26 Davis (Berra - 10' )
  • 29 Doyle Booked (Fletcher - 78' )

Substitutes

  • 31 De Vries
  • 14 Johnson
  • 16 Berra
  • 20 Milijas
  • 37 Forde
  • 09 Ebanks-Blake
  • 10 Fletcher

Arsenal

  • 13 Szczesny
  • 03 Sagna (Jenkinson - 84' )
  • 05 Vermaelen
  • 11 Santos
  • 20 Djourou
  • 08 Arteta
  • 14 Walcott (Oxlade-Chamberlain - 76' )
  • 16 Ramsey
  • 17 Song
  • 30 Benayoun
  • 10 Van Persie

Substitutes

  • 21 Fabianski
  • 18 Squillaci
  • 25 Jenkinson
  • 07 Rosicky
  • 15 Oxlade-Chamberlain
  • 09 Park Chu-Young
  • 29 Chamakh
Ref: Swarbrick
Att: 25,815

Match Stats

Shots

9 10

On target

6 7

Corners

6 4

Fouls

9 4

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +4:36 Full time

Full Time The referee signals the end of the game.

90:00 +0:46

Michael Kightly takes a shot. Blocked by Thomas Vermaelen.

90:00 +3:42

Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Matthew Jarvis.

90:00 +3:23

Nenad Milijas takes a shot. Blocked by Wojciech Szczesny.

90:00 +3:14

Matthew Jarvis takes a shot. Johan Djourou gets a block in.

90:00 +1:11

Corner taken by Michael Kightly, Alex Song makes a clearance.

89:04 +2:52

Free kick awarded for a foul by Karl Henry on Mikel Arteta. Direct free kick taken by Mikel Arteta.

88:01 +1:55

Steven Fletcher produces a left-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the goal.

84:16

Inswinging corner taken by Mikel Arteta, save by Wayne Hennessey.

83:49 Substitution

Substitution Bacary Sagna goes off and Carl Jenkinson comes on.

82:09

Aaron Ramsey takes a shot. Blocked by Christophe Berra.

78:59

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Michael Kightly by Aaron Ramsey. Karl Henry takes the direct free kick.

77:11 Substitution

Substitution Steven Fletcher joins the action as a substitute, replacing Kevin Doyle.

76:37

Mikel Arteta delivers the ball, Robin van Persie takes a shot. Save by Wayne Hennessey.

75:08 Substitution

Substitution Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaces Theo Walcott.

74:24

Aaron Ramsey decides to take a short corner.

71:09

Kevin Doyle takes a shot. Johan Djourou gets a block in.

69:37

Kevin Doyle is caught offside. Johan Djourou takes the free kick.

68:27

Assist by Alex Song.

68:27 Goal scored

Goal! - Yossi Benayoun - Wolves 0 - 3 Arsenal Yossi Benayoun fires in a goal from just outside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Wolverhampton 0-3 Arsenal.

64:41

The official flags Matthew Jarvis offside. Wojciech Szczesny takes the indirect free kick.

63:37

Michael Kightly has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the left-hand upright.

61:43

Richard Stearman fouled by Yossi Benayoun, the ref awards a free kick. Wayne Hennessey takes the free kick.

60:38

A cross is delivered by Kevin Doyle.

59:46

Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Matthew Jarvis from the left by-line, save by Wojciech Szczesny.

59:34

Matthew Jarvis crosses the ball, Kevin Doyle takes a shot. Save by Wojciech Szczesny.

58:25

Mikel Arteta challenges Kevin Doyle unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Kevin Doyle.

57:38

Clarindo Andre Santos restarts play with the free kick.

57:38 Booking

Booking Michael Kightly is given a yellow card.

57:30

Unfair challenge on Clarindo Andre Santos by Michael Kightly results in a free kick.

56:52

Robin van Persie takes a shot. Wayne Hennessey makes a save.

55:58

Clarindo Andre Santos takes the direct free kick.

55:58 Booking

Booking Ronald Zubar goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.

55:51

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Yossi Benayoun by Ronald Zubar.

55:20

Effort from the edge of the box by Matthew Jarvis goes wide of the left-hand upright.

54:36

Effort on goal by Robin van Persie from deep inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.

54:08

Corner taken by Robin van Persie from the right by-line.

53:50

Aaron Ramsey produces a cross, clearance by Richard Stearman.

52:09 Substitution

Substitution Nenad Milijas joins the action as a substitute, replacing David Edwards.

51:38

Bacary Sagna concedes a free kick for a foul on Karl Henry. Free kick taken by Karl Henry.

50:23

Aaron Ramsey takes a shot. Stephen Ward gets a block in.

46:57

Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Matthew Jarvis, clearance by Alex Song.

45:01

The referee gets the second half started.

45:00 +1:51 Half time

Half Time The ref blows to signal half-time.

44:42

Ronald Zubar produces a cross.

42:46

Free kick awarded for a foul by Kevin Doyle on Clarindo Andre Santos. Clarindo Andre Santos restarts play with the free kick.

41:30

The official flags Stephen Ward offside. Free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.

39:16

Free kick taken by Mikel Arteta.

39:16 Booking

Booking Booking for Kevin Doyle.

39:10

Unfair challenge on Mikel Arteta by Kevin Doyle results in a free kick.

34:25

Unfair challenge on Mikel Arteta by Michael Kightly results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Mikel Arteta.

28:11

Clarindo Andre Santos has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand post.

22:58

Inswinging corner taken by Matthew Jarvis from the left by-line, Wojciech Szczesny makes a save.

22:14

Outswinging corner taken by Michael Kightly from the right by-line, Christophe Berra takes a shot. Blocked by Bacary Sagna.

18:00

Free kick awarded for a foul by Kevin Doyle on Mikel Arteta. Free kick taken by Aaron Ramsey.

14:44

Yossi Benayoun has an effort at goal from the edge of the box that misses to the right of the target.

10:32

The assist for the goal came from Robin van Persie.

10:32 Goal scored

Goal! - Theo Walcott - Wolves 0 - 2 Arsenal A goal is scored by Theo Walcott from inside the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Wolverhampton 0-2 Arsenal.

10:06

Unfair challenge on Thomas Vermaelen by David Edwards results in a free kick. Thomas Vermaelen takes the direct free kick.

9:15 Substitution

Substitution Christophe Berra on for David Davis.

8:29

Assist by Theo Walcott.

8:29 Goal scored

Goal! - Robin van Persie - Wolves 0 - 1 Arsenal Placed penalty scored by Robin van Persie. Wolverhampton 0-1 Arsenal.

7:17 Dismissal

Dismissal Sebastien Bassong receives a red card.

7:00

Sebastien Bassong challenges Theo Walcott unfairly and gives away a Penalty.

3:15

Robin van Persie takes a shot. Wayne Hennessey makes a save.

3:02

Robin van Persie takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, Stephen Ward makes a clearance.

2:38

The ball is sent over by Bacary Sagna, Sebastien Bassong manages to make a clearance.

0:00

The game gets underway.

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