WE all knew this was going to be an odd season with a World Cup taking place in the desert in November and December.

Instead it’s looking increasingly like an Od season after Arsenal skipper Martin Odegaard bagged a brace to guarantee the Gunners will be five points clear of Manchester City at Christmas!

Martin Odegaard celebrates after breaking the deadlock

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Martin Odegaard celebrates after breaking the deadlockCredit: Getty
The Arsenal skipper slammed home from close range for his opener

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The Arsenal skipper slammed home from close range for his openerCredit: AFP
Odegaard doubled his tally with 15 minutes left to play

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Odegaard doubled his tally with 15 minutes left to playCredit: Reuters

The Gunners slayed Wolves after the break with their Norwegian superstar leading from the front.

His double ensured Mikel Arteta’s men will be top of the Premier tree this Christmas for the first time since 2007.

Traditionally that doesn’t count for a lot as the Gunners invariably flop after the Festive season.

Arsenal have failed to win the title in each of the last five seasons in which they led the league at Christmas.

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However with a five-point cushion over Manchester City, it’s time more than Gunners fans started to take Arteta’s title push seriously.

With City chasing their Holy Grail of the Champions League Arsenal are looking good and will sit back for the next few weeks content at their blistering start to the season.

Arteta must have felt as if Christmas really had come early when title favourites Manchester City unexpectedly dropped three points at home to Brentford in the lunchtime game.

The task facing his table-topping Gunners couldn’t have been clearer – cash in by securing three precious points to punish their surprisingly sloppy rivals.

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Meanwhile Wolves fans weren’t left out of the early Crimbo vibe as they unwrapped a shiny new boss in the shape of Julen Lopetegui prior to kick-off.

The former Spain and Real Madrid manager doesn’t officially take over his duties from caretaker boss Steve Davis until tomorrow.

However the 56-year-old was paraded just before the teams emerged from the tunnel and strode out into the middle of the Molineux pitch to survey his new home and soak in the atmosphere.

Wolves fans are clearly convinced they have the real deal and roared their approval as the Spaniard gave them the clenched fist salute in front of the packed South Bank.

Meanwhile Granit Xhaka was clenching his teeth within moments of the kick-off.

The Swiss midfielder was clearly unwell and in some distress as he sank down on his haunches and required attention from the Arsenal medics.

Although he bravely tried to continue, Xhaka only lasted 15 minutes before he had to be replaced by Fabio Vieira.

Granit Xhaka was an early replacement for the Gunners

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Granit Xhaka was an early replacement for the GunnersCredit: Reuters
The midfielder appeared to be suffering from sickness

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The midfielder appeared to be suffering from sicknessCredit: Getty

Without their midfield rock, Arteta’s men looked vulnerable to Wolves’ counter-attack.

Stand-in boss Davis, on his farewell appearance in the role, had constructed a solid five man defence with three strapping central defenders.

Arsenal struggled to get round them and when they crossed they found it equally difficult to make an impression in the air, with Gabriel Jesus far happier on the deck.

The Brazilian hadn’t scored in his last five outings but he had the ball in the net after six minutes here.

Unfortunately for Jesus he had strayed offside as he plucked Gabriel Martinelli’s cross from the air with an outstretched boot, before burying it beyond Jose Sa and Wolves survived the early scare.

A minute later it was Arsenal’s turn to breathe a huge sigh of relief as they were let off the hook by VAR Mike Dean in the most controversial moment of the night.

As Wolves broke forward at speed Nelson Semedo swept a crossfield ball behind the Gunners defence and Goncalo Guedes sped towards it.

Far side assistant Darren Cann was three yards behind play but stuck his flag up.

However as Guedes prepared to pull the trigger he was sent crashing by William Saliba inside the box.

The least Wolves expected was a penalty, with Saliba also fearful of a red card for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.

Yet incredibly, VAR judged Guedes onside but Mike Dean only took 20 seconds to rule out a spot kick.

He somehow decided ref Stuart Attwell had NOT made a clear and obvious error in failing to spot the stonewall penalty!

Relieved at their massive let-off Arsenal surged forward and Jose Sa crashed into his near post as he scrambled frantically to keep out a deflected Bukayo Saka cross.

Arsenal were stepping up the pressure and Gabriel glanced a header wide from six yards following Saka’s corner before Guedes flashed a right foot shot narrowly over at the opposite end.

It was a fascinating watch between the Prem’s top and bottom clubs as Wolves gave as good as they got.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta celebrates at full-time

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta celebrates at full-timeCredit: Getty

Jesus almost ended his recent goal drought when he chopped inside Ruben Neves but his shot smacked the top of Sa’s crossbar and bounced over.

However Wolves almost cashed in on a slack passback by Saliba on half-time which sent Guedes scurrying clear.

The Portuguese forward opened up his body and tried to curl the ball inside the far post but Gabriel saved the day with a lunging saving tackle to deflect the ball wide.

Toti and Boubacae Traore were booked before the break for fouls and Thomas Partey joined them shortly after the restart for tripping Semedo during another Wolves raid.

However the Gunners finally made the breakthrough they craved 10 minutes after the break.

Martinelli surged forward and fed Oleksandr Zinchenko who played in Jesus wide on the left.

The Brazilian produced a sweet reverse pass to Vieira who took out Sa with a low cutback and Odegaard beat Saka to the punch to net from close range.

Fifteen minutes from the end Arsenal’s captain was at it again as he wrapped up all three points.

Martinelli fought to win the ball back from kid sub Dexter Lembikisa then back-heeled the ball to Zinchenko.

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His cross was only cleared as far as Martinelli who was denied by Sa’s outstretched boot but the ball broke to Odegaard who slammed home his sixth goal of the season to kill off Wolves.

When we all return after the World Cup we can look forward to one hell of a title battle to get worked up about! 

Odegaard celebrated both goals right in front of the travelling Arsenal fans

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Odegaard celebrated both goals right in front of the travelling Arsenal fansCredit: Getty



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