Express & Star

Gary O'Neil praises Wolves' performance and loud Molineux atmosphere

Gary O’Neil has hailed Wolves’ ‘incredible performance’ in their defeat to Arsenal.


The injury-hit squad produced an impressive display that frustrated and contained the Gunners, before a fortuitous Leandro Trossard goal and late Martin Odegaard strike won it for the London club.

Despite the result, O’Neil was delighted with what he saw from his players.

“It was an incredible performance that even probably exceeded my expectations,” O’Neil said.

“It was an unbelievable performance from a group that are low on numbers and unbelievably low on attackers.

“I’m very proud of what they produced.

“The negatives would be the second goal, which I was disappointed with, because we didn’t deserve to lose 2-0.

“Losing 1-0 and not quite being able to break them down is probably as bad as it should have been for us in the end. We didn’t deserve to suffer the second one.

“But apart from that, we worked our socks off, pressed really high and disrupted Arsenal’s rhythm.

“We came up a little bit short against one of the best teams in world football, so there’s no shame in that.”

Under the lights at Molineux, the supporters created a loud atmosphere and fed off the aggressive performance from the team.

And O’Neil was full of admiration for what the fans produced in the stands.

He added: “They were far better than I could ever ask for or expect.

“It would be easy for them to feel a little bit down. Like me, deep down we all want our best players available and we want to be back where we were before Coventry when people were talking about Europe and an FA Cup run.

“But that’s not the situation we’re in and we have to make the best of what we have now – and the fans definitely did that. They were incredible.

“Our performance helped them. They could feel there was an energy and aggression and we were trying to make it uncomfortable for Arsenal.

“They were able to buy into it, they pushed the lads and the lads kept pushing them. There was a really good connection.

“Short of an equaliser and coming away with a 1-1, it was about as good as we could have hoped to produce.”

Pablo Sarabia and Mario Lemina were both benched for the game, with Sarabia carrying a groin knock and Lemina showing signs of fatigue.

With home games against Bournemouth and Luton coming up in quick succession, the head coach hopes that gamble will allow both players to play bigger roles this week.

“Hopefully,” O’Neil said when asked if benching Sarabia and Lemina would allow him to start them in the next two games.

“I was trying to pick a team with the rest of the week in mind, trying to juggle it with just 10 available that can complete 90 minutes.

“It was a tough call but we felt we’d be able to produce that high-energy performance and get a couple of them a bit of a rest.

“Pablo’s groin settled down even further and hopefully it will do them both good not to have gone through 90 minutes and they will be feeling a bit better come Wednesday.”

Pedro Neto is still a way off playing again, but O’Neil confirmed Matheus Cunha and Nelson Semedo are both improving and could return to the squad this week for the two home games.