Van Persie fires Arsenal ahead with a brilliantly executed volley
By Ian Hughes
Robin van Persie scored twice to secure Arsenal's victory over Wolves and keep them in touch with Premier League leaders Manchester United.
The Dutchman sent a free-kick over and also sliced wide before scoring with a sweet volley from Cesc Fabregas' cross.
Wayne Hennessey kept out Theo Walcott's shot and Richard Stearman blocked on the line from Fabregas within seconds.
Walcott shot wide when he should have scored but the winger later squared for Van Persie to lash in his second.
The striker, who has now notched nine goals in five games, was in sparkling form once again and was matched by a stellar performance from midfielder Jack Wilshere.
The pair were far too good for a Wolves side that have now lost 11 out of their 13 games on the road this season, and the visitors never looked likely to improve that woeful record at the Emirates.
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Only a series of outstanding stops by keeper Hennessey - and also some poor finishing from Arsenal - prevented the Gunners potentially breaking another Premier League record.
At Newcastle last week they became the first club to lose a four-goal lead in the Premier League as they capitulated in the second half to be pegged back to 4-4.
There was no such drama this time as Arsene Wenger's side kept their heads - and all 11 men on the field - and also benefited from 90 minutes of assurance from centre-back Johan Djourou, whose substitution through injury at St James' Park contributed to their downfall.
Wilshere and Fabregas bamboozled Wolves in midfield throughout and it was the Spaniard who set up Van Persie for the opener. The Dutchman had already had two early efforts on goal before he superbly volleyed in a cross from the right.
Arsenal were shining bright in a match that had begun with hailstones smashing down in the stadium.
And Andrey Arshavin should have made it 2-0 but failed to properly connect with a corner that evaded Hennessey, the Russian sending his volley wide of the gaping goal.
Wilshere, who made his first start for England in the midweek friendly win over Denmark, raced into the penalty area and chose to cross rather than shoot - one of the very few poor selections he made in the match.
The young midfielder then delivered a sublime ball over the top for Arshavin, whose cut-back found Walcott. The winger's shot from close range was somehow saved by Hennessey and the return by Fabregas was blocked on the line by Stearman.
Hennessey was called on again just before half-time and stretched out his foot to deny Van Persie.
For the second match in a row, Arsenal went into the break completely on top and untroubled.
Perhaps with the memories of last week in their minds, they started the second half determined to continue to dictate the pace.
Wilshere's fabulous run and lay-off played in Walcott but the England youngster shot wastefully wide.
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And as the Gunners pushed on, Wolves almost contributed to their own downfall when Stearman would have turned a cross into his own net but for another intervention by Hennessey's outstretched foot.
Eventually Arsenal struck again as the stubborn Wolves defence succumbed to more attacking brilliance.
Fabregas' pass sent Walcott clear and he slipped the ball inside for Van Persie to thump home.
Great work on the left touchline from Arshavin ended with Fabregas narrowly failing to reach a cut-back before the Russian himself sent a shot just wide from outside the box.
Arsenal continued to look for a third goal and came close to it when Walcott went on a fine run and his effort was kept out by Hennessey.
The Wolves keeper was at it again shortly after, saving a curling strike from Fabregas.
Wolves finally got an effort of note on target right at the end of the match when Sylvan Ebanks-Blake fired over from just inside the box, but their disappointing day ends with them bottom of the table.
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