Arsenal's first half performance against Wolves offers positives despite VAR controversy

The history books will likely remember Wolves 2-1 Arsenal for a wonderful lack of VAR intervention and a moment of individual brilliance from Joao Moutinho.

On the stroke of half time with the Gunners leading 1-0, David Luiz was given his marching orders for bringing down Willian Jose. And by bringing down, we mean accidentally clipping the Wolves striker's heel with his knee as the Brazilian defender attempted to track back.

There can be few complaints about the awarding of the penalty given Luiz did foul Willian Jose in the box - no matter how accidental - but supporters have every right to be angry about the dismissal. Fans have spent the season lamenting VAR for its unnecessary, pedantic interventions - yet when given the opportunity to necessarily, pedantically intervene, the technology was nowhere to be seen.

Ruben Neves equalised from the spot, before Moutinho secured all three points for Wolves four minutes into the second half with a stunning solo effort from distance.

But though Luiz's unjust red and Moutinho's wonder goal will be the overriding memory from Tuesday evening's clash, it shouldn't take away from the fact that for the opening 45 minutes, Arsenal were actually quite good.

Vying to make it eight Premier League games unbeaten - matching their longest unbeaten run of the Mikel Arteta era - the Gunners turned in their most complete first half performance of the season. The woodwork was rattled inside the first 40 seconds and again before the half was out, Bukayo Saka had a goal ruled out for a marginal offside and Pepe had opened the scoring with a fabulous double-nutmeg and curling finish.

Thomas Partey had been excellent in midfield, making 29 passes in the Wolves half and six in the final third - more than any other player on the pitch.

Partey impressed for the Gunners | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

They were dynamic, fast and exciting going forward, carving out chance after chance. It was a complete world away from the Arsenal side who had scored just three times in eight Premier League matches between the end of October and the start of November.

The Gunners could very easily have been 4-0 up at half time, comfortably home and dry and with the three points seeing them leapfrog rivals Tottenham and move to within a point of fifth place West Ham.

But of course it was too good to be true. A small lapse in concentration at the back the for all their control and dominance in the opening 45, Arsenal found themselves level at the break and a player down.

The Luiz decision changed the game - had Arsenal been more clinical, this may not have been the case | Sam Bagnall - AMA/Getty Images

Tuesday's result is a lesson in taking chances, being clinical and killing the game off for Arsenal. Football's mad, and you can always rely on one unfortunate decision to ruin your evening. Luiz's red card may not have been so costly had the Gunners capitalised on their first half performance and the chances they created.

A little over two months ago Arsenal had lost to Wolves at the Emirates by an identical scoreline, leaving the Gunners 14th and with mounting speculation surrounding Arteta's job.

Fast forward two months and the result of a controversial VAR decision doesn't appear to have any wider implications for the Spaniard's position. The promising first half performance is a good indicator of why this is - the signs are there that Arsenal are gradually heading in the right direction.

Source : 90min