Wolves defeated Manchester City 2-1 a few weeks ago, becoming the first team to defeat the defending champions in the league this season; Arsenal was the second (1-0).
The talking point in the game was how Craig Dawson man marked Haaland and rendered him ineffective. Why am I talking about Wolves, Dawson, and Haaland?
It’s because Arsenal played Wolves on Saturday afternoon, and it has now been revealed that they intended to neutralise Bukayo Saka by completely man-marking him, like Dawson did with Haaland. Their strategy to man-mark Arsenal’s No. 7 and render him irrelevant, however, failed.
After the game, Wolves manager Gary O’Neil expressed his displeasure with his defenders for failing to keep Saka quiet.
O’Neil said: “Punished by the couple of moments for the goal, the first one I’m really disappointed with because it’s a situation which we worked hard on, we knew would arise, and we got so many bodies around Saka.
“All the bodies we’d worked on getting around him, and there’s a couple of ricochets in there, Daws [Dawson] is maybe a little bit hesitant in the penalty area, which you can understand these days with the amount of penalties that’s been given.
“So Daws was slightly hesitant, and the way Saka managed to wriggle through so many of our bodies in a situation we’d prepped for was disappointing.”
“Arsenal took ages on their restarts at the end. I felt the time could have been extended slightly because we are supposed to be clamping down on timewasting.”
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_EN) December 2, 2023
Saka stated last week that he was reviewing all of the games in which he was double-teamed by the opposition to see what he could improve on, and he was obviously better at getting out of the trap the Wolves created for him. He’s mastered avoiding the double team, which is good news. The Englishman was superb against the Wolves, beating his guy with stepovers many times on Saturday.
Six minutes into the game, the Hale End graduate opened the scoring for Arsenal, scoring a superb team goal off Tomiyasu’s pass. With the goal, Bukayo Saka has now scored 36 Premier League goals for Arsenal, surpassing Cesc Fàbregas’ 35.