Wolves suffered an early blow when Sebastien Bassong was red carded for wrestling Theo Walcott to the ground inside the first 10 minutes of the English Premier League match at Molineux Stadium.

Robin van Persie opened the scoring from the penalty spot, and two minutes later Walcott broke through the relegation-threatened side's defence to double the score-line.

Yossi Benayoun's right-footed strike with a little over 20 minutes left to play sunk any hopes of an unlikely recovery.

Wolves' top scorer Steven Fletcher and forward Sylvain Ebanks-Blake were dropped as manager Terry Connor opted for a 4-5-1 formation in the hope of keeping a first clean sheet in the top flight for seven months.

Such a notion lasted only seven minutes, before an on-rushing Walcott was bundled to the ground in the 18-yard box by Bassong, who was duly sent off by referee Neil Swarbrick.

Van Persie ended a sequence of four matches without a goal by audaciously chipping his penalty straight down the middle of Wayne Hennessey's goal.

Two minutes later and the ball was back in the bottom of the Welsh goalkeeper's net again, after Walcott exchanged passes with Van Persie before striking to make it 2-0 to the visitors.

Benayoun almost added a third at the quarter-hour mark when he powered into the box before wastefully shooting wide.

Although a man down and up against the third-placed team in the league, Connor's side pushed forward in search of a way back into the contest.

In response, a near miss from Van Persie reminded the hosts of the threat their opponents posed.

At the other end Matt Jarvis retaliated by dragging into the side-netting after fooling right-back Bacary Sagna with a clever dummy.

With 30 minutes remaining on the clock Wojciech Szczesny pulled off an exceptional save to his right to deny solitary Wolves forward Doyle, who had headed Jarvis' inviting cross goal-wards.

But in the 69th minute Benayoun put the match out of reach, receiving Alex Song's pass before curling his shot from the edge of the area into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal.

Arsenal were comfortable from that point onwards, and their deserved victory sees them go three points clear of Tottenham Hotspur with a game in hand over their fourth-placed rivals.