Two points thrown away, but Arsenal narrow gap on the Mancs

By Graham McNorthbank

The events of Saturday are still difficult to comprehend. Up 4-0 away from home with barely 25 minutes played and we looked hungry enough to go on and double that.

But a more classic game of two halves you'd be hard pressed to find. Abou Diaby's lunacy reduced us to 10 men and with Phil Dowd bolstering the Newcastle side to 12, we somehow conspired to throw away that lead and were actually a bit lucky to emerge with a point.

However, I thought that today we'd still be five points behind Manchester united, but as it is, the pack of Wolves cut them down and the gap has been reduced to four points.

So with my glass in half full mode, it was a positive weekend for the Arsenal.

Sure, it could have been better, but it wasn't and there's nothing we can do about that now.

Thankfully we have a full week to recover and that's going to be needed given the injury to Johan Djourou and players such as Alex Song, Samir Nasri and Thomas Vermaelen on the treatment table.

Whether any of those will be back for this weekend is doubtful and with Diaby now out of contention for our next three domestic matches, it looks as if we might have to depend on Denilson for defensive midfield cover. I'm not one of those who has it in for the young Brazilian, but the prospect of him facing the full menace of the Barcelona team does not fill me with too much confidence.

We can only hope that the dozen or so players who head off on international action for their respective countries this week all return fit and well. The thought of Robin van Persie playing for Holland always makes me break out in a cold sweat, as Dutch friendlies have the habit of sidelining our top striker for months at a time.

But the player we really need to come back sharp is Andrey Arshavin. He was simply fantastic on Saturday at Newcastle, providing two assists and generally increasing his work rate ten fold. I don't know what's happened in the past couple of weeks with the little Russian, but thankfully for us Gooners, he seems to be getting back to top form at just the right time, with the spark that Samir Nasri provides us now missing for a few weeks.

The next few days will all be about keeping an eye on the various international match reports in the hope that all the Arsenal travellers come back unscathed.

Next up for us are Wolves at home on Saturday and with the Manchester derby set as the day's early game, we'll know by kick off if there's a chance to close the gap further on the league leaders. But having just become the first team to defeat Man United this season, Wolves will be on a high when they come to North London, so we'll have to be more solid - a lot more solid - than we were in the last 45 minutes of football we took part in.