Arsenal 1 Wolves 0

  • By: Martin Lipton, PA Sport Chief Soccer Writer
  • Last Updated: May 22 2012, 10:01 BST

The Double dream lives on, and Christopher Wreh will never have a more

glorious week however long he stays in north London.

Laughed at for much of the season, the cousin of Milan striker George Weah had

seemed determined to prove that footballing ability did not run in the family.

But with Dennis Bergkamp suspended and Ian Wright literally hamstrung, it was

Wreh to whom Arsene Wenger turned in his hour of need.

Against Bolton on Tuesday Wreh made just one contribution of note - a stunning

strike from long range that grabbed three vital points to keep the Highbury side

in control of their own championship destiny.

And today it was Wreh again who made the decisive impact, taking full

advantage of a howler by Hans Segers when the Wolves goalkeeper cleared straight

to the inspirational Patrick Vieira after 12 minutes.

Vieira's run drew the Wolves defence and Wreh peeled away before slotting home

only his third goal since arriving from Monaco in the summer, his first in the

FA Cup.

It was a classic Arsenal performance. These Gunners are very much Wenger's

team, but while the style has changed since the end of the George Graham era the

spirit and resolve has not.

Graham's side were the undisputed masters of the single-goal victory, "1-0 to

the Arsenal" a cherished North Bank chant.

And now Wenger's team have shown themselves cut from the same cloth, holding

on to Wreh's early strike to add Mark McGhee's braves to Wimbledon, Manchester

United, Sheffield Wednesday and Bolton in the last month.

It could have been more, with Wolves outplayed totally in the first half and

Vieira magnificent in midfield.

And then when Wolves responded to McGhee's half-time exhortations with 20

impassioned minutes, they hung on - only just, but hung on - Tony Adams standing

firm as ever.

That resilience brought a 13th Cup final for Arsenal, a Wembley date on May 16

deserved reward after what was in many respects another 'away' win.

Once the idea of playing at Walsall's Bescot Stadium had been discarded,

Wolves could not have been closer to home - and with congestion keeping hundreds

of Arsenal fans on the M6 at kick-off time, Molineux had been transported 12

miles.

But while Wolves had an edge there, that was about as far as it went as

Arsenal, with Marc Overmars declared fit to start, started the game a league

apart in every sense.

Wolves battled, Steve Claridge and Don Goodman working their socks off up

front and Steve Sedgley trying his best in midfield, but it was a case of

journeymen against Premiership class.

Arsenal's passing was so much slicker, their movement at times bewildering the

Wolves back line, and while McGhee's team nominally had five in midfield it was

Arsenal who had width and penetration.

Not that the goal came from that clever interplay; instead it was handed on a

plate by a series of blunders.

Segers was the first guilty man, scuffing his clearance along the ground and

straight to Vieira just inside the Wolves half.

But his defenders were equally culpable, Dean Richards and Keith Curle

mesmerised as Vieira surged goalwards, backing off and then fatally sucked in as

Wreh sprinted right to receive the simple pass before planting into the bottom

far corner.

The lesson was not learned, Wolves then criminally standing off Adams and

nearly paying the price again, and with Vieira and Emmanuel Petit ruling the

midfield roost Arsenal were dominant.

If Overmars had been 100% fit after his midweek ankle injury it surely would

have been all over at the break, although with strained tempers leading to a

number of petty squabbles there were moments when they did creak at the back.

One of those came when Richards' deep ball dropped over Adams and onto

Goodman's chest, David Seaman just racing off his line in time to gather, while

the pace of Steve Froggatt was beginning to find out Gilles Grimandi, booked for

one foul.

Even so, Arsenal, so confident, were making it look easy and after Nicolas

Anelka had been too clever for Curle, Froggatt's interception almost set up the

marauding Petit, Segers dashing off his line to partially atone for his earlier

error.

The Dutch keeper then slithered across to hold from Overmars after Wreh and

Anelka had linked, before doing well to hold Ray Parlour's 25-yarder when it

bounced wickedly in front of him.

Arsenal's control had only brought the one of course, and at the opening of

the second half - Steve Bould on for the injured Martin Keown - Wolves suddenly

started to play.

Goodman's foraging work created an opening for Paul Simpson, Seaman shovelling

away his shot, while Grimandi was lucky to escape after another foul on

Froggatt.

And when Froggatt centred from deep in the 52nd minute Seaman's 'Safe Hands'

monicker was horribly wide of the mark, the England keeper rising easily but

spilling the ball only for Goodman, perhaps not believing the evidence of his

eyes, to stab wide of the gaping target.

Arsenal breathed again, one run from Overmars ending when he went down some

time after the challenge from Sedgley, referee Steve Lodge - who had also booked

Parlour - not buying his appeals.

It was a real contest now with both sides going for it, Richards just getting

a foot in after Anelka had surged along the goal-line, Claridge getting the

support he had lacked earlier.

With 23 minutes left McGhee played what he hoped would be the ace in the hole,

Steve Bull - the symbol of the club for a decade - replacing the weary Goodman.

It so nearly brought an instant reward, Bull ploughing his way through and the

ball squirting off to Claridge, with Seaman just doing enough.

Arsenal's first-half cool was a distant memory, Vieira and Petit proven to be

mortal, although with Wolves committed to attack there were always going to be

spaces to exploit.

One counter 16 minutes from time saw Overmars feed Nigel Winterburn, Segers

fisting behind, before Wreh made his exit, Stephen Hughes coming into midfield

and leaving Anelka alone up front.

The young Frenchman should have presented Petit with the chance to finish it

off after Richards had been caught in possession, while Overmars seemed to be

denied a certain spot-kick from Adrian Williams' reckless tackle three minutes

from time.

Now they were back to their early show, knocking the ball around for fun,

almost taunting the shattered Wolves players, huge gaps opening up. But as ever,

it seems, one was enough.

Teams

Wolverhampton: Segers, Muscat (Keane 83), Froggatt, Richards,

Williams, Curle, Goodman (Bull 68), Sedgley, Simpson,

Robinson (Slater 70), Claridge.

Subs Not Used: Stowell, Naylor.

Booked: Williams.

Arsenal: Seaman, Winterburn, Vieira, Adams, Anelka (Platt 83),

Overmars, Wreh (Hughes 74), Keown (Bould 47), Parlour, Petit,

Grimandi.

Subs Not Used: Manninger, Boa Morte.

Booked: Grimandi, Parlour.

Goals: Wreh 12.

Att: 39,372

Ref: S J Lodge (Barnsley).