Arsenal ravaged by Wolves in further blow to their Champions League hopes
U nai Emery is not the first Premier League manager to leave Molineux with his nose bloodied this season, but this was a particularly seismic blow from Nuno Espirito Santo and his big-game hunters.
Nuno's record against the established order has been outstanding during this memorable campaign, with Arsenal's top-four hopes suffering further damage after Wolves recorded their first home win over the Gunners since October 1978.
It was another thrilling performance from Wolves, with three goals in a devastating end to the first half, and Arsenal's 2,988 travelling supporters will have departed the Black Country wondering what they had witnessed.
Arsenal remain in fifth place, a point behind Chelsea with three games left, but their first-half performance was abysmal and scrutiny will only increase on goalkeeper Bernd Leno, who was at fault for the second and third goals.
Emery has now been added to a list of managers to lose against Wolves this season which includes Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino, Maurizio Sarri and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. A third defeat in four league games for Arsenal could have severe repercussions for their season.
H e said: “I am angry with myself because we didn't do the gameplan. We can be frustrated but the Premier League is about being consistent over 38 matches.
“We’re disappointed but we need to remember how we were three months ago. We lost in our hands the opportunity but we can be optimistic and can recover for the top four.
“Wolves are doing a very good season and the second and third goals killed us. I don't want to speak individually about the goals, we need to continue together.
“We need to recover our confidence and good moments. They were better than us, we needed to be more calm. We need to take the three points at Leicester on Sunday.”
A trip to Molineux always appeared strewn with danger for Arsenal, and their wobble has come at the worst possible time for Emery.
With Chelsea and Manchester United also jostling for that final Champions League place, the margin for error is tiny but Arsenal were blown away in the first half, the three goals coming in 19 enthralling minutes.
T his was always likely to be a game to bring the best out of Wolves. After Saturday's excruciating stalemate with Brighton, when Chris Hughton parked an entire fleet of buses in front of the home team, this was a different type of encounter in which Wolves' attacking players were allowed to flourish. They have now taken 16 points off the top-six this season.
A fter a slow start they grew into the game, with the excellent Jota proving a huge influence with his direct running and pace.
In the 28th minute, after another driving run from Jota, Jonny Otto was fouled outside the area by Nacho Monreal, with referee Stuart Attwell annoying the Wolves bench by only booking the defender.
Their frustration was forgotten, though, when Ruben Neves provided a moment of magic. With a short run-up, the Portuguese midfielder lifted the ball over the wall and into the left corner to register his first goal at Molineux since January 7.
Arsenal were now distinctly second best, struggling to repel the Wolves tide. Another Neves free kick almost found the top corner, while Jota's close-range effort was turned onto the post by Leno.
T he Arsenal goalkeeper was easily beaten eight minutes before time, grasping at thin air as wing-back Matt Doherty rose to head Jonny's cross into the unguarded net.
Leno was also exposed in first-half injury time when Jota drove a shot under him to score the goal his performance deserved.
Arsenal fans booed the team off at half-time, and Emery did not waste too much time making changes early in the second period.
W olves remained rampant, however, with Raul Jimenez crashing a shot wide of the far post, in front of their highest attendance of the season.
Arsenal did grab a consolation ten minutes from the end, when Sokratis climbed above Neves to head in a corner, but an unexpected comeback never materialised.
Nuno's record against the top-six remains something to be proud of, and a place in next season's Europa League is back in their hands after moving up into seventh.
He said: “We will not think about that, it is all about the next game and remember where we have come from.
“I am so proud of my players because they give everything in every game.”