Robin Van Persie Continues Fine Form With Double As Gunners Keep Pace At The TopRobin Van Persie's brace helped Arsenal to a 2-0 win over Wolves and ensured Arsene Wenger's side kept pace with Manchester United at the top of the Premier League.
The Dutchman scored goals in either half as the Gunners warmed up for their Champions League clash with Barcelona in perfect style.
Wolves came to the Emirates with the reputation of giant killers in the Premier League but it was the home side who looked like they meant business. Jack Wilshere, fresh from his first England start against Denmark in midweek, started things off as he twisted and turned his way through the Wolves defence only to be brought down by Richard Stearman right on the edge of the box. Van Persie stood over the resultant free-kick but his effort was way off target.
But the home side looked in the mood and dominated from start to finish, keeping the ball away from Mick McCarthy's side and getting it forward at pace with every opportunity.
When Wolves did eventually get hold of possession they showed what they could do with the ball on the deck. A lovely passing move between Kevin Doyle, Adam Hammill and Nenad Milijas ended with the latter winning a corner. The visitors looked to test the Gunners' defence at set pieces and but for a vital header from Laurent Koscielny they could have been on level terms.
However, it was Arsenal who broke the deadlock after 16 minutes after a delicate chipped cross from Cesc Fabregas found Robin Van Persie unmarked on the penalty spot. The Dutch striker connected with a sweet volley with his right foot which flew past the despairing Wayne Hennessey for his ninth goal in his last seven league matches.
Arsenal did not want to stop their though and they would have increased their lead had it not been for the impressive Hennessey.
Andrey Arshavin found in space on the left hand side and in a complete mismatch with Ronald Zubar, won the ball in the penalty area, cutting the ball back to Theo Walcott, who thought he had made it two only for Hennessey to claw the ball away. The danger was not over for Wolves though as the rebound found its way to Fabregas but his goalbound strike was cleared off the line by Stearman.
Next it was Arshavin's turn to be denied by Hennessey. The Russian forward, who once again showed signs of finding his form, was put through on goal by Walcott but his shot was beaten away by the Wolves keeper's outstretched hand.
Wave after wave of attack was bearing down on the visitor's goal and once again Arshavin was the man causing the problems. The little forward danced past Zubar and into the penalty area, appearing to be tugged by the full-back on the way through. Referee Chris Foy waved play on despite the pleas from the Emirates crowd.
At half-time the game should have been dead and buried for the Gunners and they should have been looking forward to a Champions League tie with Barcelona with three points in the bag.
But with the teams only separated by a goal at half-time and the memories of Arsenal's second-half capitulation against Newcastle fresh in the mind, there was a feeling Wolves were still in the game.
Arsenal started the second-half just as they had finished the first. Wilshere terrorised Wolves with another direct run into the box and teed up Walcott, but the England winger fired his shot wide of the near post.
There were nervous moments for Arsenal and Wenger when Zubar caught Van Persie across the knee with a reckless high challenge. The full-back was lucky to avoid a straight red but did not even receive a caution.
The Gunners hitman was down for a long time but managed to pick himself up and minutes later made the game safe.
In the 56 minute Fabregas clipped a beautiful pass releasing Walcott down the right. The England winger, bearing down on goal, shifted the ball onto Van Persie who fired past Hennessey to score his second.
With 20 minutes to go Arsenal turned their attention to Wednesday night's encounter with Barcelona and Wenger started ringing the changes.
Van Persie was given a well deserved rest and was replaced by Marouane Chamakh, while the much improved Arshavin was brought off for Nicklas Bendtner.
Jack Wilshere was also afforded a rest after a excellent performance following his England display.
Wolves made one final role of the dice by bringing on forwards Sylvain Ebanks-Blake and Steven Fletcher, but neither could muster anything in front of goal for the for the visitors, who did not test Wojciech Szczesny all afternoon.
The Gunners threatened to finish with three after Fabregas released Walcott again. This time the former Southampton trainee cut back inside and bent in a shot from the left with his right foot, but the ball went agonisingly wide.
Walcott and Fabregas could have added goals in the closing stages but Hennessey stood firm again.
But the Gunners will be happy with their afternoon's work and will not face many easier games than this.