Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka said he has had a “week I will remember my whole life” after he celebrated signing a new long-term contract by scoring the opener in the Gunners’ victory at Wolves on Saturday. The teenager struck his first Premier League goal with a sweet, left-foot volley to deliver a blow to the hosts’ hopes of Champions League football next season. Arsenal made sure of a fourth successive victory when Alexandre Lacazette capped a fine team display by turning on fellow substitute Joe Willock’s pass and firing emphatically past Wolves keeper Rui Patricio with five minutes left. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta described Saka as “talented and intelligent” after the player committed his future to the club on Wednesday, and was impressed once again at Molineux. Wolves had been hoping to build on an impressive restart to the season but knew the pressure was on to win after fellow top-four contenders Leicester City and Manchester United had recorded victories earlier in the day.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were not at their best. Adama Traore had their clearest chance after the break when he raced in on Arsenal keeper Emiliano Martinez from Diogo Jota’s pass, but the Spanish forwrd lifted his finish over the top in wasteful fashion. Wolves are still sixth in the Premier League table on 52 points, but seventh-placed Arsenal are now only three points behind. Spirits have soared at Arsenal since they made a desperate restart to the Premier League season with defeat at Manchester City and then that acrimonious late loss at Brighton, a match that also cost them goalkeeper Bernd Leno. They have since recorded league wins over Southampton and Norwich City, as well as progressing to the FA Cup semi-finals with victory at Sheffield United – but this win at Wolves was the most impressive demonstration yet of Arteta’s growing influence. And it came at the end of a pleasing week for the club with exciting teenagers Saka and Gabriel Martinelli both signing long-term contracts.
Saka showed his quality with that left-foot volley, taken with athleticism, composure and guided cleverly out of Rui Patricio’s reach – but it came amid a fine all-round team performance. Arsenal arrived at Molineux with Wolves storming into contention for the top four after three straight wins – over West Ham United, Bournemouth and Aston Villa – since the season’s resumption. Indeed, such was their form, Saka’s goal was the first they had conceded in 448 minutes. However, Arsenal were resolute, determined and willing to trade in the physical exchanges, and they produced the decisive moments of quality to win the game. It continued the renaissance under Arteta, and while it is wise to keep all optimism in perspective given previous false dawns, this recent run leaves them only six points behind fifth-placed Manchester United, with that position potentially bringing Champions League football if Manchester City’s European ban is upheld.