That was a big, BIG, result last night for The Arsenal. Make no mistake about it, it was hard fought, hard earned and even with a fair dose of perceived injustice for us, that felt like it could potentially have a bearing on our season. If somehow we manage to keep our best players on the pitch for the remaining 16 games (ideally for the whole 90 minutes – more on that anon), we have a chance and if somehow we do get in to the Champions League places by three or less points, I will probably be looking at this game as one of those moments in which we edged over the line.

The game itself started with trepidation because of the absence of Tomiyasu. Arteta had said that he wasn’t sure if Tomiyasu would be fit but hinted he might be because he had been back and training with the team. But perhaps much like Arteta is learning himself about managing players through injuries, rather than throw Tomiyasu in and risk exacerbating his current situation and losing him for longer, he wasn’t even in the squad. It did mean a return of Cedric, which is always worrying, but it was the right call if it means Tomi is back for the Brentford game. And actually, despite his clear flaws, I thought Cedric did alright yesterday. He got caught underneath the ball once or twice but broadly speaking he did a decent enough job and even put a few decent crosses in on the night.

The fact we don’t have a striker who is decent enough to finish them is another story in itself and on a night in which we must be overwhelmingly positive after such a huge three points at such a difficult ground to go to, I have to once again roll my eyes at Lacazette. He showed again exactly why we need a new forward because whilst he worked hard for the team and battled well, in the penalty box he is becoming more and more redundant. He battled well for the goal Gabriel scored so perhaps he deserves some praise, but his involvement was combative, not skilful or had anything to do with his prowess and finishing. That probably sums him up because there were two instances that stick in my mind on the night. The first was him controlling the ball, pirouetting and fresh-air kicking it as he lost control of the ball, before running in to a Wolves defender and hitting the deck in attempt to ‘buy’ a penalty. The second came just a few minutes after Martinelli’s sending off (again, I will get to that…) when he was put in on goal and the ball was dragged wide. In that position you want a proper striker who can finish, someone like Martinelli for example as it would have been a similar goal to the one he scored against West Ham, but instead he pushed the ball wide of the far post. His misses will come back to haunt us.

But today is not a day for grumbling, because that win feels big. It feels like an opportunity for us to get going on a run now. You can’t take any game for granted, we will have a tough game against Brentford coming up and they’ve already beaten us once this season, but we simply must kick on and performances like last night have to give surges in confidence. You would hope the celebrations at full time show that and Ruben Neves’ comments about us celebrating like we’d won the league are hilarious. Down to 10 men, going to a very tough ground, having to fight for everything – let’s see any other team do anything else other than celebrate like that – because they would too.

Bob Holding gets plenty of criticism from me and I don’t think he’s very good for the way we play football, but last night he headed everything away, he camped himself in our box and was superb for his 20 minute cameo. So kudos to him. He was surrounded by others who stepped up in the line of adversity and played their part well. I thought Tierney had a shaky game but he was penned back and overloaded at times and Wolves love a big diagonal switch, so when he was isolated was when we saw the problems arise.

In midfield Xhaka and Partey were very good. Clearances, headers away and overall decent displays. Xhaka got his standard needless yellow card but thankfully it didn’t cost him or us in the end. Instead it was another player who would take us down to ten men and there’s a lot to unpick with the Martinelli red card. Firstly, the throw in from Podence was a foul throw. He’s off the floor when he throws and that means the ball should have been called back. But the referee Michael Oliver didn’t spot that. Martinelli has his hands up but I’m not really even sure what he did warranted a yellow card if I’m honest. If the ref would have bought that back then maybe he’d have said “come on now, that’s silly” and given him a warning. Especially given that Kilman had cynically taken Martinelli out after about 10 minutes of the game starting and Oliver did the same. Then the second yellow card probably was a yellow because you could see he was after the player. But the fact that Oliver issued two yellows for one passage of play really is amazing. It’s amazing because that has NEVER been done before. I have never seen it in all of my days of watching football that two cards are punished in one passage of play and whilst you could argue that they were both yellows, I have seen countless times players make a yellow card foul, then kick the ball away. Or, they make two tackles that are yellows, then they are given a yellow card for just one of them. My mind is sktechy but I think an Aston Villa player did it to Saka last season at Villa Park. There was a foul which was a yellow, then he was hauled down. One yellow was given.

It feels like we are being used here as a test case scenario. It feels like the lowest threshold of tolerance is applied for Arsenal whereas other teams seem to get the benefit of the doubt. Last season Luiz was sent off for the tiniest touch on a Wolves players’ ankle which was clear not deliberate yet it was given as that and so red card and penalty. This season a player can stamp on Tomiyasu’s face, endangering the opponent like at Everton, yet VAR and the on field ref say there is nothing doing. I am not a fan of mental people on the internet who cry conspiracy when it comes to referees, but some of the stuff that is happening now is just, well, weird. Like how Gabriel got booked for time wasting on 60 minutes. That literally happens every week at the Emirates when other teams come to town and Burnley were doing it after 20 minutes against us a few weeks ago! Yet nothing until a token yellow card on88 minutes to the goalkeeper gets given. Something’s not right here and I think the PGMOL have a lot to answer for. The inconsistency is wrong and we need root and branch change at that institution. We need it to be ripped up and started again because this is farcical and I’m glad Arteta has said he is going to speak to them because something has got to give now.

Anyway, I think i’ll leave that there today and I’ll leave it on a positive note. We have a massive three points, we have the whole weekend to bask in victory – our first of 2022 – and we can enjoy the rest of the weekend knowing we’ve done our bit. Onwards and upwards Gooners!

Catch you all tomorrow.