Arsenal extend unbeaten run to 17 games in a row with a 2-1 victory away at Bournemouth.
A close encounter between Arsenal and the Cherries ended in an away win for Arsenal.
Arsenal come into the game with not the best previous record at the Vitality Stadium – last year, they lost 2-1 and the year before they were 3-0 down and just managed to scrape a 3-3 draw courtesy of an Olivier Giroud extra time header, followed by his famous “scorpion kick” celebration. However, this year, a change of manager and a change of system resulted in all three points being taken from the South Coast against the Cherries, and heading back to the Emirates.
In the 1:30 kick off game on Sunday 25th November, Unai Emery changed formation to a three four three formation while Eddie Hearn stuck with his conventional four four two formation, with King just peeling off and playing a bit deeper than Wilson. A start in the league for defender Sokratis helped sure up the Gunners’ defence. Alexandre Lacazette was sidelined with a slight groin injury while there was much controversy over the decision not to play Mesut Özil, and to leave him on the bench.
As for Bournemouth, they had a full strength team and were boosted by the arrival of Josh King, their all-time leading goal scorer with 35 goals, who returned from quite some time away from the team with an ankle injury. Callum Wilson was also in the side and was looking to add to his recent excellent run in form, which deservedly warranted a call up to international duty by Gareth Southgate. Wilson scored on his debut with a deft touch against the USA to continue his fine run of scoring.
Arsenal take the lead
Bournemouth started the game much the better side, Brooks and Fraser were looking to exploit the wings which was left isolated on many occasions due to Emery’s decision to change formation. For a good part of twenty five minutes, the cherries were knocking the ball about well and having a few shots at Bernd Leno. Arsenal slowly grew into the game and left wing back Seat Kolasinac and right wing back Hector Bellerin were proving to be a handful for the Bournemouth defence.
On the half an hour mark, Jefferson Lerma opened the scoring with an own goal from a Sead Kolasinac cross. This came against the run of play and deflated all of Bournemouth’s previous hard work. After the goal, Arsenal kept on pushing for a second, with runs in behind by Pierre Emerick Aubameyang looking to be a way through this rock solid, regimented back four.
Cherries strike back
After a good spell of play by Arsenal, Bournemouth were rejuvenated by the importance and need to score before half time, and went searching for a goal. Their whole defensive line stepped up as a unit, and they were now playing in Arsenal’s half. On the break, Arsenal had a corner, but this corner was defended well by Bournemouth, who then themselves turned defence into attack in the flash of an eye and Callum Wilson found himself with the ball inside Arsenal’s half near the left touchline.
Wilson took a touch inside and played a square, twenty-yard pass to Brooks who was roaming in acres of space on the right hand side of the pitch. Arsenal couldn’t keep up with Bournemouth’s pace on the break and Brooks was now running at the Arsenal defence. Rob Holding tried to stop him, but Brooks slid the ball to the left of the central defender to find Josh King who excellently finessed the ball with his left foot into the top left corner to level the score which proved to be the last kick of the half.
Aubameyang and Kolasinac the difference
After the restart of the second half, as they have done so often this season, Arsenal came out firing and had a much more direct approach to the game than the first half. In the sixty seventh minute, Arsenal worked a quick free kick into Alex Iwobi who spotted Kolasinac making a darting run behind Simon Francis. The Bosnian powerhouse played a square ball along the six yard box to Aubameyang, who, as he does so often, slotted the ball home. Aubameyang’s movement proved to be too quick and sharp for the defence.
The lethal striker was on hand to help himself to his eighth goal in the league this season; He now goes level on with Sergio Agüero as the leading scorers in the Premier League. A late surge for an equaliser by the home side had Arsenal fans’ heart in their mouths as pressure was mounting up rapidly. A free kick was given in favour of Bournemouth in the ninety fourth minute for a late tackle on Wilson by Mustafi. Some twenty yards from goal Junior Stanislas stepped up to the ball, but effort was only able to clear the ball, much to the delight of Arsenal.
Bournemouth now face the tough task of reverting a three-loss game streak in a row and have to go to the Etihad Stadium to take on high flying Man City, while Arsenal look ahead to the North London Derby against Tottenham where a win will see them go level with their rivals and could possibly go above them, depending on goal difference.