Arsenal held 1-1 by Wolves in Premier League
Updated: December 27, 2011, 12:16
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LONDON(AP) Arsenal squandered the chance to move into fourth place in the English Premier League by being held to a 1-1 draw at home to struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday.
Gervinho's eighth-minute opener for Arsenal was canceled out by Steven Fletcher seven minutes before half time, before Wolves held out for the final 17 minutes with 10 men at Emirates Stadium following the straight sending-off of Nenad Milijas for a studs-first tackle.
Robin van Persie, the league's leading scorer with 16 goals, wasted a number of chances in both halves for Arsenal, which stayed fifth - a point behind Chelsea and 12 behind the top two, Manchester clubs City and United.
Draws on Monday by leader City, Chelsea and Liverpool gave Arsenal a great opportunity to make up some ground in the title race, but Fletcher's goal against the run of play and Wolves' defensive approach made it a tough assignment for the hosts.
Visiting goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey also had an inspired match, denying Van Persie several times as Arsenal laid siege on the Wolves goal for much of the second half.
With winger Theo Walcott absent through illness, Arsenal lacked pace in midfield but it wasn't short of creativity as playmakers Tomas Rosicky and Yossi Benayoun combined superbly on a counterattack for the first goal.
Benayoun, making his first league start for Arsenal since his loan move from Chelsea in August, was found by Rosicky in space and the Israel captain threaded in a through-ball for Ivory Coast forward Gervinho, who rounded Hennessey before slotting in his fourth goal of the campaign
Van Persie needs two goals to equal the Premier League record of 36 in a calendar year, set by Alan Shearer in 1995, and the Netherlands striker had a couple of chances before Fletcher's equalizer.
He slid the first wide after good build-up play by Gervinho before drawing a smart save from Hennessey with a low left-footed drive. He has just one match left - at home to Queens Park Rangers on Saturday - to match or surpass Shearer.
Fletcher's goal in the 38th came out of nowhere, Stephen Hunt's shot deflecting into the path of the Scottish forward who stooped to direct a header into the bottom corner from eight yards (meters) for his seventh of the season.
With Wolves flooding the midfield with hard workers, Arsenal was being stifled and frustrated, even more so when Hennessey tipped over a curling free kick from Van Persie in the 65th.
Milijas' harsh red card, for the Serbia midfielder's lunge on Mikel Arteta, increased the pressure on Wolves in the final stages and Van Persie squandered a one-on-one chance when played through by Rosicky moments later.
The Dutchman was then twice denied by Hennessey as the visitors just held on for only their fifth away point of the season.