WOLVERHAMPTON, England (Reuters) – Arsenal brushed aside bottom club Wolverhampton Wanders 2-0 on Saturday with both goals from captain Martin Odegaard to take a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League going into a mid-season break for the World Cup.
The Norwegian midfielder, one of the revelations of Arsenal’s swashbuckling early-season form, slotted his first into a gaping net in the 55th minute after a Fabio Vieira cross at the end of a typically clever passing by the visitors.
Odegaard bagged his second off a rebound 20 minutes later.
The result left Arsenal first in the Premier League on 37 points, five ahead of Manchester City who lost at home to Brentford earlier in the day.
The London side have not won the Premier League since their 2003-04 title when they were dubbed “The Invincibles” for going an entire season without defeat.
“We have to stay calm. We’ve said many times it’s a long way to the end of the season, there are some good teams around us, we’ll play every game as a final,” Odegaard said.
The only negative for Arsenal was seeing midfielder Granit Xhaka substituted in the first half, seemingly with an illness.
But nothing could dampen the mood of the away fans, who chanted their adoration of manager Mikel Arteta at the final whistle, some stripping shirts off despite the November chill.
Despite Wolves’ first-half resistance, Arsenal’s slick and youthful side looked comfortable throughout and could have scored more. Striker Gabriel Jesus saw a goal disallowed then hit the bar.
Despite plenty of effort and passionate support from their fans at Molineux stadium, it was ultimately another miserable day for Wolves, who are bottom of the league on 10 points.
They were watched by their incoming manager Julen Lopetegui from the stands before he formally takes the reins.
Odegaard said Arsenal had to step up a gear in the second half.
“We know the quality we have, we know we are going to create chances, we had to be patient, but it came good,” he said.
“We played a bit slow in the first half. They defended well, with all the players behind the ball. I think we did better the second half, we played the ball out wide and created some overload, and we got the goals, so I think it worked.”
(Reporting by Andrew CawthorneEditing by Christian Radnedge)