Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said he is not worried about his position after his side slumped to their worst start to a season since 1981 with defeat at home by Wolves in a game overshadowed by a nasty head injury to visiting striker Raul Jimenez. The Gunners sit 14th in the table after five losses in 10 league games – a year to the day since Unai Emery was sacked at head coach – and have been beaten in their past three matches at Emirates Stadium. A game between two of the Premier League’s lowest-scoring sides was disrupted by a sickening clash of heads between Jimenez and David Luiz in the opening exchanges that led to the Mexico striker receiving treatment on the field for 10 minutes before being taken to hospital.
It was understandably flat for a time after that but flickered into life when Pedro Neto slotted home from close range after Leandro Dendoncker had headed Adama Traore’s teasing cross against the bar midway through the first half. Gabriel equalised for the hosts with a thumping header from a Willian cross just three minutes later but Wolves were the better side throughout and re-established their lead when Daniel Podence cleverly converted after keeper Bernd Leno fumbled Neto’s drive. Arsenal rarely threatened, with striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang little more than a spectator at times, and Arteta has much to ponder with his side languishing in the bottom half. Wolves, on the other hand, are up to sixth and sit just four points off the summit in an increasingly congested top half of the table.
The match had barely got going when one of its biggest stars was left unable to continue. The moment Jimenez and Luiz dropped to the floor it was clear there was real concern among the players as medical staff rushed on to the field. Jimenez was ultimately taken off on a stretcher and straight to hospital after a bandaged and visibly upset Luiz went to check on his stricken opponent. Luiz continued until half-time – Arsenal have said they followed all the correct protocols in keeping him on the pitch – but was withdrawn at the break, blood clearly showing through his bandage. In the absence of talisman Jimenez, manager Nuno Espirito Santo needed his other attackers to step up – and, once the shock of the injury wore off, they duly delivered a vibrant performance of real menace.
Neto’s second goal of the season, from the bench against Southampton last week, was rewarded with a start at Emirates Stadium on Sunday, and he repaid that faith by firing Wolves into the lead. The 20-year-old Portugal forward was also instrumental in the goal that put the visitors ahead again on the stroke of half-time. Arsenal keeper Leno could only shovel out Neto’s shot from distance and Podence smartly drilled home the rebound. Wolves have struggled for goals this season but, with Traore back in the team, and Neto and Podence looking threatening, it may be they have the tools to address that in the coming weeks, even if Jimenez may be set for a spell on the sidelines.