Arsenal 2 Wolves 0
Wolves somehow avoided a landslide as Arsenal banished memories of Newcastle’s comeback last week with a comprehensive victory in the Barclays Premier League at the Emirates.
Robin Van Persie scored both goals, the first an athletic volleyed effort, and having surrendered a four-goal lead at St James’ Park, the Gunners never looked like losing their way this time.
Relegation candidates Wolves, meanwhile, may just be happy not to have conceded more after the hosts somehow failed to add to their tally despite numerous chances.
Having been deployed in the anchor role for England in midweek, Jack Wilshere almost immediately set about showing his attacking credentials.
One nice touch set up an early Arsenal break and then, with three minutes gone, he left Jamie O’Hara for dead as he surged toward the Wolves box.
Christophe Berra tripped him just outside the area to set up a promising free-kick for Van Persie, but he shot well over.
The Dutchman’s radar was even further off moments later when he screwed Alex Song’s pass well wide from 20 yards.
With 16 minutes gone Arsenal scored the opener, Cesc Fabregas floating a cross in from the right channel and Van Persie executing a wonderful volley from a horizontal position.
Andrey Arshavin should have made it 2-0 four minutes later but fluffed his shot after Wayne Hennessey misread a Van Persie corner.
Wolves seemed most troublesome from corners, Berra and Ronald Zubar both winning headers but failing to test Wojciech Szczesny in the Arsenal goal.
The visitors seemed increasingly nervy though, Hennessey suffering from a lack of communication with his defenders and Wilshere coasting into the box uncontested.
Wolves somehow avoided going further behind twice in the space of seconds as Arsenal exerted more pressure.
Wilshere freed Arshavin with a glorious long pass before the Russian left Zubar on his backside as he pivoted and cut across to Van Persie.
His shot was saved brilliantly by Hennessey only for the loose ball to reach Fabregas, whose low drive ricocheted off the retreating Richard Stearman on the line.
An offside flag, as well as a modest finish, denied Arshavin after fine work by Walcott and despite being just one behind, Wolves looked shellshocked.
Referee Chris Foy turned down a penalty appeal from Arshavin and Hennessey saved well from Van Persie at his near post seconds before the interval to leave Wolves, improbably, still in the game.
Wilshere continued to show his class as the second period started, easing past a handful of Wolves players in the penalty area and laying the ball off to the supporting Walcott for what looked a certain goal.
Walcott contrived to send his shot wide and looked almost as shocked as his team-mates not be celebrating a second.
Hennessey was playing his part too, saving smartly with his foot after Nenad Milijas looked as if he might turn Walcott’s cross over his own line.
By now the game was being played almost exclusively in Wolves’ final third, with Arshavin and Walcott causing endless problems on the wings.
Finally, with 56 minutes on the clock, Van Persie made it 2-0.
Fabregas was the creator with a perfectly-weighted pass from the deep leaving Walcott and Van Persie with a two on one against Berra.
The England winger did his job, rolling the ball to his team-mate who slotted home his 10th league goal of the season.
The chances continued, first Fabregas and then Van Persie going close.
Walcott had more energy than even the Wolves substitutes and drew a foul from replacement striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake after 72 minutes.
With Barcelona awaiting on Wednesday, Arsene Wenger used the break in play to withdraw Arshavin and Van Persie, with the superb Wilshere following soon after.
Arsenal’s tempo slowed from then and they had a hairy moment off an 82nd-minute corner when Szczesny was forced to palm a looping ball over the bar.
Walcott probably deserved a goal and was unlucky to see a late effort smothered by the brave Hennessey following a neat one-two with Marouane Chamakh.