Bendtner came off the bench to head Arsenal's winner deep into injury time
By Phil Dawkes
A goal from Nicklas Bendtner four minutes into injury-time kept Arsenal's title challenge alive as they snatched victory against 10-man Wolves.
The Gunners seemed set to drop decisive points until substitute Bendtner rose to head home Bacary Sagna's cross.
The hosts dominated the game but were frustrated by their own inability in front of goal and Wolves' commitment.
Even after Karl Henry's dismissal for a lunge on Tomas Rosicky, Wolves battled hard but have nothing to show for it.
Once again Arsenal were thankful to the late contribution of Bendtner, who scored a last-minute winner at Hull last month and who came off the bench here to score a goal that keeps the Gunners three points behind leaders Chelsea, who won 2-1 at Manchester United in Saturday's early kick-off.
Wenger hails Arsenal spirit
However, the late goal cannot paper over some of the qualities lacking in the Gunners in the absence of captain Cesc Fabregas and Andrey Arshavin, both of whom were injured during the midweek Champions League draw with Barcelona.
They may have had the vast majority of possession but they missed the composure of Fabregas in midfield and the subtle creativity of Arshavin in attack.
To say they were often too deliberate and wasteful in front of goal is an understatement.
Theo Walcott - one of four changes made by Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger from Wednesday's team - was his usual direct self but twice fluffed clear shooting opportunities and saw a number of his deliveries wasted by team-mates.
Eduardo, another of the recalled players, missed two himself in the first half - one saved by Wolves keeper Marcus Hahnemann, who had a superb game, and the other miscued wide from close range.
Gunners right-back Sagna also missed a pair of good opportunities - firstly receiving a pass from Walcott but seeing his close-range shot saved by Hahnemann's legs and then capitalising on space to cross for Emmanuel Eboue, who fluffed his attempted backheel shot.
Wolves had the luxury of naming the same side that held in-form Everton to a goalless draw at Molineux last week and they again demonstrated the organisation and commitment that had seen them go four games without defeat before this match.
However, they posed little threat to the Arsenal goal, barring an early long-range effort from Michael Mancienne which flashed wide, and a brief spell just before half-time where they forced two ultimately fruitless corners.
Arsenal continued to spurn chances after the break, with Eduardo putting a swivelling first-time shot past the post and Rosicky twice seeing solid drives comfortably collected by Hahnemann when he could have made it harder for the keeper.
Bendtner pleased to nick injury-time goal
Czech midfielder Rosicky was at the centre of the action again just after the hour when he was felled in the centre circle by a lunging tackle from Henry that earned the Wolves captain a straight red card.
Despite their inferior numbers, Wolves continued to frustrate the home side, who pressed hard but saw little reward in the final third barring a Rosicky shot saved by Hahnemann.
But deep into injury-time Sagna found space on the right to dig out a cross which was met by Bendtner with a powerful header that finally ended the visitors' resistance.
Wolves, who remain five points above the relegation zone, may not have moved any closer to guaranteeing survival, but they can take plenty of positives into their remaining five games.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger:
"To win after the Champions League game that we had is always satisfying.
"The spirit, the unity and the mental strength in the team is amazing.
"When Nicklas pushed himself he is always a dangerous striker and I believe he is maturing."
Wolves manager Mick McCarthy:
Seething McCarthy fumes at red card
"We were down to 10 men for 20 minutes and I don't think we should have been.
I've seen it again and he got the ball. To be down to 10 men is a diabolical joke to be honest.
"They're better than us, had more chances than us, had more of the ball than us but to lose in the last minute is bitterly disappointing."
90:00+5:56 The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.
90:00+5:32 Samir Nasri takes a shot. Blocked by Michael Mancienne.
90:00+3:55 The assist for the goal came from Bacary Sagna.
90:00+3:55 GOAL - Nicklas Bendtner:Arsenal 1 - 0 Wolverhampton Nicklas Bendtner scores a headed goal from inside the six-yard box. Arsenal 1-0 Wolverhampton.
90:00+3:16 Effort from 35+ yards by Andrew Keogh. Save by Manuel Almunia.
90:00+2:40 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Sol Campbell by Andrew Keogh. Manuel Almunia takes the free kick.
90:00+1:49 Effort from inside the area by Theo Walcott misses to the right of the target.
90:00+1:20 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Bacary Sagna from the right by-line.
90:00+0:59 Andrew Keogh is ruled offside. Neves Denilson restarts play with the free kick.
88:59 Stephen Ward sends in a cross.
87:44 Shot from just outside the box by Neves Denilson misses to the right of the goal.
87:05 Outswinging corner taken by Bacary Sagna from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance by Andrew Keogh.
85:58 Theo Walcott delivers the ball, save by Marcus Hahnemann.
85:03 Unfair challenge on Kevin Foley by Carlos Alberto Vela results in a free kick. Marcus Hahnemann takes the free kick.
84:25 Centre by Tomas Rosicky.
83:35 Samir Nasri takes a shot. Blocked by Stephen Ward.
82:22 Substitution (Wolverhampton) makes a substitution, with Stephen Ward coming on for Matthew Jarvis.
82:22 The referee penalises Samir Nasri for handball. George Elokobi restarts play with the free kick.
81:48 Bacary Sagna produces a cross.
81:11 The ball is sent over by Mikael Silvestre, save by Marcus Hahnemann.
78:17 Thomas Vermaelen takes a shot.
78:17 Substitution Carlos Alberto Vela on for Da Silva Eduardo.
78:17 Booking The referee cautions Michael Mancienne for unsporting behaviour.
78:07 Michael Mancienne concedes a free kick for a foul on Theo Walcott.
77:32 Outswinging corner taken by Matthew Jarvis.
76:44 Tomas Rosicky has a curled shot. Marcus Hahnemann makes a comfortable save.
76:20 The assistant referee flags for offside against David Edwards. Mikael Silvestre restarts play with the free kick.
75:00 Christophe Berra concedes a free kick for a foul on Theo Walcott. A cross is delivered by Tomas Rosicky, Headed effort from
deep inside the area by Mikael Silvestre misses to the left of the goal.
72:28 The referee gives a free kick against Andrew Keogh for handball. Mikael Silvestre takes the free kick.
72:05 Nicklas Bendtner takes a shot. Save made by Marcus Hahnemann.
70:40 Substitution Samir Nasri is brought on as a substitute for Alex Song.
68:25 Substitution (Wolverhampton) makes a substitution, with Andrew Keogh coming on for Kevin Doyle.
68:25 Substitution David Edwards replaces David Jones.
68:25 Nicklas Bendtner challenges Jody Craddock unfairly and gives away a free kick. Marcus Hahnemann restarts play with the free
67:45 Corner taken short by Tomas Rosicky.
67:32 Tomas Rosicky takes a shot. Save by Marcus Hahnemann.
65:04 Sent off The referee red cards Karl Henry for serious foul play.
64:48 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Tomas Rosicky by Karl Henry. Free kick taken by Neves Denilson.
63:29 Neves Denilson takes the free kick.
63:29 Substitution Nicklas Bendtner is brought on as a substitute for Emmanuel Eboue.
63:29 Booking Matthew Jarvis is booked.
63:22 Free kick awarded for a foul by Matthew Jarvis on Bacary Sagna.
62:59 David Jones takes a shot.
61:44 Unfair challenge on Karl Henry by Alex Song results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Karl Henry.
61:04 Jody Craddock challenges Da Silva Eduardo unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Alex Song.
60:11 Matthew Jarvis sends in a cross.
59:59 The ball is crossed by Matthew Jarvis, Sol Campbell makes a clearance.
58:40 Shot by Tomas Rosicky. Save made by Marcus Hahnemann.
57:58 Ronald Zubar challenges Emmanuel Eboue unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Mikael Silvestre.
55:18 Da Silva Eduardo concedes a free kick for a foul on Karl Henry. Free kick taken by Marcus Hahnemann.
53:02 Effort from deep inside the area by Da Silva Eduardo misses to the left of the goal.
51:33 Tomas Rosicky takes the outswinging corner, clearance made by Christophe Berra.
50:17 Shot from just outside the box by Alex Song misses to the right of the target.
50:09 Theo Walcott produces a cross.
46:32 Corner taken by Tomas Rosicky played to the near post, clearance by Kevin Doyle.
45:39 Foul by Karl Henry on Alex Song, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Manuel Almunia.
45:01 The game restarts for the second half.
45:00+3:07 The players leave the pitch at half time.
45:00+2:34 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Matthew Jarvis, save by Manuel Almunia.
45:00+2:06 Emmanuel Eboue crosses the ball, comfortable save by Marcus Hahnemann.
45:00+1:19 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Matthew Jarvis, clearance made by Emmanuel Eboue.
44:59 The ball is delivered by Bacary Sagna, Marcus Hahnemann makes a save.
43:12 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by David Jones from the right by-line, save by Manuel Almunia.
40:34 Corner taken by Emmanuel Eboue from the left by-line played to the near post, save by Marcus Hahnemann.
39:44 The official flags Kevin Doyle offside. Thomas Vermaelen takes the free kick.
39:12 Foul by Emmanuel Eboue on Ronald Zubar, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Ronald Zubar.
36:57 Mikael Silvestre takes a shot. Marcus Hahnemann makes a comfortable save.
36:23 Outswinging corner taken by Bacary Sagna.
35:19 The ball is sent over by Mikael Silvestre.
33:36 Neves Denilson has an effort at goal from just outside the area which goes wide of the left-hand post.
32:12 Effort on goal by Tomas Rosicky from outside the box goes harmlessly over the bar.
30:48 Kevin Doyle gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Bacary Sagna. Bacary Sagna restarts play with the free kick.
29:52 The ball is crossed by Theo Walcott.
26:47 Foul by Tomas Rosicky on Matthew Jarvis, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by George Elokobi.
25:29 Thomas Vermaelen challenges Kevin Foley unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Marcus Hahnemann.
25:11 Theo Walcott produces a cross.
24:46 Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Tomas Rosicky, Jody Craddock manages to make a clearance.
24:13 Unfair challenge on Alex Song by David Jones results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Sol Campbell.
21:45 Theo Walcott takes a shot. Blocked by George Elokobi. Inswinging corner taken by Tomas Rosicky from the left by-line, Theo
Walcott takes a shot. Save by Marcus Hahnemann.
21:06 Unfair challenge on Neves Denilson by David Jones results in a free kick. Thomas Vermaelen takes the free kick.
20:27 Shot by Thomas Vermaelen from just outside the area goes over the net.
19:28 Karl Henry challenges Da Silva Eduardo unfairly and gives away a free kick. Da Silva Eduardo restarts play with the free kick.
17:13 Free kick awarded for a foul by Karl Henry on Tomas Rosicky. Tomas Rosicky takes the free kick.
16:33 Free kick awarded for a foul by Bacary Sagna on Marcus Hahnemann. Marcus Hahnemann takes the indirect free kick.
13:55 Theo Walcott delivers the ball, Marcus Hahnemann makes a fantastic save.
13:04 Thomas Vermaelen takes a long range shot clearing the crossbar.
12:27 Shot by Bacary Sagna. Save made by Marcus Hahnemann.
10:59 Tomas Rosicky delivers the ball, Effort from deep inside the area by Da Silva Eduardo misses to the left of the target.
10:24 Effort from just outside the area by Michael Mancienne goes over the bar.
Correction - 6:22 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kevin Doyle by Neves Denilson. David Jones takes the free kick.
6:22 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kevin Doyle by Neves Denilson. Direct free kick taken by David Jones.
5:36 Corner taken by Tomas Rosicky from the right by-line to the near post, Christophe Berra makes a clearance.
5:15 Centre by Theo Walcott, Da Silva Eduardo takes a shot. Save by Marcus Hahnemann.
0:21 Unfair challenge on Kevin Doyle by Neves Denilson results in a free kick. George Elokobi crosses the ball from the free kick
left-footed from left channel, Thomas Vermaelen manages to make a clearance.
0:00 The match gets underway.
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