Arsenal held by Wolverhampton
Zeenews Sports Bureau
London: Arsenal’s chance of making it to the top four of this year’s English Premier League title ended when they were held by 10-man Wolves to a 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.
Gervinho gave the hosts the lead before Steven Fletcher levelled just before half-time, with Wolves holding on for a draw despite having Nenad Milijas sent off with a quarter of an hour remaining.
Arsenal were frustrated by referee Stuart Attwell, who turned down their penalty appeal in the second half.
And this match meant Gunners striker Robin van Persie only has one more game left to find the two goals he needs to equal Alan Shearer`s Premier League record of 36 in a calendar year.
Arsene Wenger`s men knew victory would take them back into the Champions League places after Chelsea had drawn against Fulham in the west London derby on Monday.
Arsenal coach Wenger, however, was without Theo Walcott due to illness but Yossi Benayoun was rewarded with his first Premier League start for the club after heading in the winner against Aston Villa in his previous game.
The Gunners again started with a makeshift defence, with Johan Djourou and Thomas Vermaelen at full-back.
Djourou struggled in the opening exchanges, with Matt Jarvis getting behind him but having his shot blocked by Per Mertesacker rushing back.
Jarvis also cut inside from the left but no team-mates were able to tap in his dangerous low cross.
Arsenal broke the deadlock in the eighth minute with a counter-attack that started with Tomas Rosicky holding the ball up on the right flank.
The ball was shifted inside to Benayoun, who played through Gervinho and the Ivory Coast forward, played onside by Ronald Zubar, took the ball around Wayne Hennessey and beat the defender on the line with his finish.
Arsenal could have extended their lead shortly afterwards when Gervinho slipped van Persie through, but the Dutchman dragged his shot wide with just Hennessey to beat.
Van Persie then set up a chance for Mikel Arteta when he pinched the ball from Karl Henry, but Roger Johnson got back to block.
Henry lost the ball again when van Persie raced through but Johnson brought him down on the edge of the area, earning the Wolves skipper a yellow card.
Arsenal captain van Persie then went closer with a drive towards the near post that was well saved by Hennessey, but Wolves drew level seven minutes before the break when Milijas`s corner fell to Stephen Hunt on the edge of the penalty area.
Hunt juggled the ball and got a shot away, which was deflected by Laurent Koscielny into the path of Fletcher, who headed into the bottom-left corner for his seventh goal of the season.
Arsenal struggled to find rhythm at the start of the second half after the blow of conceding an equaliser.
Attwell turned down the penalty appeal when Koscielny`s cross appeared to be blocked by Christophe Berra`s arm, with Vermaelen receiving a yellow card for his protests.
Wolves defender Zubar needed treatment twice in the early stages of the second period and eventually he was replaced by Richard Stearman, with the visitors looking to catch Arsenal on the counter-attack.
They were reduced to 10 men with 15 minutes remaining though, with Milijas dismissed for a wild tackle on Arteta.
After that, Hennessey twice denied van Persie, and Vermaelen at point-blank range, as Wolves held on for a draw that left them two points above the relegation zone.