Leandro Trossard proves himself Arsenal’s sharpshooter to rely on

<span><a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Leandro Trossard;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Leandro Trossard</a> rifles <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Arsenal;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Arsenal</a> into the lead at a crucial moment against Wolves.</span><span>Photograph: Kieran McManus/Shutterstock</span>

Leandro Trossard is a Lego enthusiast – a few years ago he built a replica of the Taj Mahal, painstakingly assembling all 5,923 pieces – and here he produced another masterpiece with a single swipe of the right boot, even if he didn’t really mean it.

With half-time looming, Arsenal were itching to find a goal and Trossard provided one, in unorthodox style. Gabriel Jesus brought Kai Havertz’s cross under his spell and then somehow kept hold of the ball after falling under pressure from a touch-tight Matt Doherty before jinking clear of João Gomes and Santiago Bueno and then locating Trossard. There was little room to manoeuvre but Trossard cut across the ball with his right foot and his scuffed shot billowed into the top corner, in off the upright.

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Trossard seems to trade in big goals. In the first game of the season he ensured the Community Shield went the distance, cancelling out Cole Palmer’s strike for Manchester City in the 101st minute before Arsenal prevailed on penalties. There was his leveller to earn a point at Stamford Bridge and maintain their unbeaten start amid the unfiltered optimism of October. Last month he netted the winner at home to Porto and his equaliser against Bayern Munich ensured Arsenal headed to Germany on level terms in midweek.

This, however, was of different, if not greater, significance, especially given what had preceded it in the previous, largely frustrating, 45 minutes. “I knew I had a small amount of time so I just hit it with my toe, tried to get it on target and after that it went in really nicely, so I’m really pleased with it,” Trossard said. “We wanted a response and to get back on the pitch and show that we are still there and can win games.”

Of course, all of this means Arsenal are now back top of the pile after a welcome first victory in four matches. Bouncebackability? Tick. Mikel Arteta, outwardly at least, seemed confident they would. He interrupted a journalist at his pre‑match press conference on Friday when they had the temerity to preface a question with “if you don’t win tomorrow”. Arteta bullishly replied: “I don’t think about it. I think about winning. Not if. Sorry.” Naturally.

At the end of a difficult and demoralising week in which Arsenal exited the Champions League and crashed to defeat at home to Aston Villa, Arteta told his players not to feel sorry for themselves, that this was the perfect opportunity to get back on track. “It is about showing what we are made of to turn this situation around,” the Arsenal manager said.

Martin Ødegaard’s message was presumably similar when he led the team huddle before kick-off. Arsenal hardly arrived on to the pitch moping or frowning and they made a bright start. Havertz hooked an effort on target with 39 seconds on the clock and the impressive Declan Rice twice side-footed wide. There was little evidence of a 72-hour hangover, though it was far from an exhilarating or nerveless performance.

Wolves handed Manchester City their first defeat of the league season here in September and Tottenham came unstuck a couple of months later. But, with respect, this was a different, underpowered Wolves. Hwang Hee-chan had only 51 minutes in the tank and Gary O’Neil was without a handful of regular starters, including Pedro Neto, Matheus Cunha and Nélson Semedo, and so thin is his squad that the 15-year-old Wesley Okoduwa, as at Newcastle last month, made the bench. O’Neil said the teenager, one of five on the Wolves bench, had been delighted to miss science lessons in favour of joining in first-team training during the week. Wolves, to their credit, did not play like a team bereft of so many of their best players and pushed Arsenal all the way.

Ødegaard sealed victory in the penultimate minute of stoppage time, finding the net from an acute angle after his attempted cutback was blocked by Toti Gomes. It was a goal that, even with Wolves shy of attacking threats, offered great relief. There is no let-up at this stage of the season. Arsenal host Chelsea on Tuesday with the opportunity to move, momentarily at least, four points clear of City. Victory here gives Arsenal a, potentially brief, leg-up in the title race with Liverpool returning to action at Fulham on Sunday and City at Brighton on Thursday. By that point it could well be too late but at least this win means they still have more than a fighting chance.

Whether it was a slice of luck or a piece of ingenuity, how Arsenal needed Trossard’s timely intervention. In a few weeks, they may look back on it with an even greater sense of satisfaction. “He is a little magician, he can score off any service,” Arteta said. “He is a big threat and he can play in different positions; he is so composed, so cool. It is a joy to have him in the team.”