There will be time later on to talk about the protagonists in Arsenal’s dramatic comeback over Wolves, but before getting to them, let’s take a moment to appreciate the supporting cast.
They are generally two players, who by their very nature, can go under the radar, such is their focus on facilitating the excellence of the team rather than grabbing the headlines themselves.
Odegaard is the more extroverted of the two. As he has grown in confidence and stature since his permanent transfer from Real Madrid it has become a regular occurrence to see him cojolling his teammates, encouraging them to keep the tempo high and telling them – and most often Bukayo Saka in particular – where to stand in order to receive his passes.
The winning goal does not come about without the Norwegian’s slick pass through to Alexandre Lacazette from the right half space that he has made his own in recent weeks and on the night he completed more through balls than any player on the pitch, and completed 19 passes in the final third, as per Squawka.
At the end of the game, Odegaard could be seen lying flat on his back with exhaustion and if you’re looking for spiritual and technical leaders you’re hard pressed to find one better than the 23-year-old.
Partey meanwhile grew in stature as the game went on, rising to the occasion like a gladiator as the Emirates crowd started to roar for more.
His individual statistics on the night were simply stunning – most ball recoveries (13), most duels won (6), most take-ons (3), most fouls won (2), second most chances created (3). In other words a complete midfield performance.
He is more the type to lead by example, and has gone under the radar recently as a result.
However, since rating his own time in North London a 4/10 after the defeat at Old Trafford in December, it’s worth noting that Arsenal’s transition from a double pivot side to Mikel Arteta ‘s dream 4-3-3, has essentially been down to the Ghanaian’s excellence at the midfield base.
Plenty of talk goes around about how the Gunners cannot afford to lose a striker to injury between now and the end of the season, but in reality it is these two midfielders who are probably their most important players.
Before the Brentford game Mikel Arteta seemed to drop something of a spoiler of what was to come in the latest Nicolas Pepe reboot.
“Since he has come back, I have seen a different Nico,” the Spaniard said. “I don’t know what it is, probably he has realised the importance of the end of the season for him.
“His attitude, his smile, the way he is communicating with everybody, his energy. The way he has trained. His efficiency in training. His application.
“His energy has changed. I think he felt important again. Probably he felt like a proper football player that can win tournaments and felt, ‘Ok this is me now.’
“He needed that and I’m really pleased with that.
The Ivorian has made a habit in his three campaigns with Arsenal, of starting poorly enough to be nowhere near the first team by January before returning to become one of its most important players by May.
It seems history is repeating itself.
With Emile Smith Rowe out due to illness, looking to the bench on Thursday for ways Arsenal could change things if they were going wrong drew few solutions other than Pepe.
With 20 minutes to go, Arteta called on the Ivorian and he most certainly delivered.
It’s easy to forget that in a squad where goals are a scarce commodity at times, Pepe is one of the few players whose supply can match the demand.
The 26-year-old’s turn and finish after Eddie Nketiah ‘s impressive cutback was sublime, while his assist was the difference between one point and three.
After the game Arteta reiterated his claim that this version of Pepe is like nothing he’s ever seen before.
“I told you last week, I see a different Nico,” the Spaniard said. “I don’t know, it’s his energy, his happiness, his all-round play, how he’s training, I was convinced that he could come in and do something for the team.”
It may already be the case that when we look back on crucial contributions in May, that Pepe, on a night where all seemed lost time at times, has done his bit for the top four chase. Hopefully this will not be the last thing he has to add though.
Lacazette’s mixed night
It seems as though every matchday a talking point is now the performance of Alexandre Lacazette.
Perhaps that is simply the nature of being the club’s leading centre forward and captain, or perhaps it is because what he does is just so visible.
The Frenchman simply does everything at 100% of his capabilities, with a passion that defies his current contractual situation. At times though on Thursday it seemed as though that may not be enough.
At times the 30-year-old’s hold up play was a little off, and his accuracy in front of goal wayward at best, but it is his refusal to give up that seems to spare him the criticism of the Arsenal fans.
Usually a shot-shy striker, Lacazette broke a personal record by having eight efforts on goal against Wolves – the most in his Arsenal career.
While technically none of those actually resulted in a goal for him, it was his final effort of the night that secured the points for the Gunners and plenty of praise from his manager.
“When I see our striker in the 85th minute, chasing a full-back in the corner flag, winning the ball back, playing, going, fighting, missing one chance, missing two chances, going again. What can I do?” Arteta questioned at full time. “I can only praise him and try to help him as much as possible and give him support.
“At the end he got the reward. For me, it’s Lacazette’s goal.”
It seems as though we’ll be having these conversations pretty much on a gamely basis for Arsenal’s remaining 14 fixtures, as after breaking yet another one of his personal records by managing his longest streak of starts in his Gunners carrer (10) against Wolves, Lacazette will be integral to the top four race between now and the end of the seaosn.
Arsenal’s persistence pays off
Maybe the most remarkable thing about this Arsenal display was the team’s resilience to keep going until literally the very end.
The last time Wolves lost a game after being in front Donald Trump still had two years left to run on his presidency in America, so it would have been easy to lose faith.
The Gunners meanwhile have never come back from a deficit at half time to win a game under Mikel Arteta, nor have they managed to avoid defeat after conceding the first goal this season.
Despite that though, heads never dropped at the Emirates.
If there was perhaps one player who typified the never say die attitude on the night it Gabriel Magalhaes.
The Brazilian defender was at fault for giving Wolves the lead with a wayward backpass to Aaron Ramsdale that Hwang Hee-Chan could seize on, although in fairness to him he could hardly have been helped by his manager’s shouts of “yes Gabby, keeper” from the touchline as he fended of pressure from Raul Jimenez.
This though is a young and enthusiastic team and mistakes from both playing and coaching staff are bound to happen.
For a few minutes after Gabriel was visibly shaken by his error and slipped to nearly allow Jimenez in to double the visitor’s early lead, but his ability to compose himself after was phenomenal.
The Brazilian then produced a late block from Pedro Neto’s goal bound shot when the scores were at 1-1, the importance of which would only truly become apparent roughly 10 minutes later.
For a team who are by far the youngest in the Premier League and with the youngest manager, the importance of emotion in fuelling their play cannot be underestimated, and were it not for the passionate connection felt towards getting a result on Thursday night, the chances are that the Gunners would not have got it.
This is perhaps the reason for the real sense of harmony you can feel between players and supporters at the Emirates right now. For the first time since the days of Arsene Wenger there is a real sense of unity and pride among the fanbase that Mikel Arteta was keen to draw attention to at full time when analysing the comeback.
“I think the attitude, the spirit, the quality the energy that the players put in, in the second-half again, to fight, to go and win the match was phenomenal,” the Spaniard said.
“It created a great atmosphere and synergy with our fans, and it was great to win it that way.”
When you look around at Arsenal’s top four rivals that sense of togetherness simply isn’t something they possess, and this emotional necessity to fight to the death could be invaluable in securing Champions League football for the first time in half a decade.