Result: Bournemouth 1-2 Arsenal
Competition: Premier League
Date: 25th November 2018
Venue: Vitality Stadium
Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac, Torreira, Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Aubameyang
Subs: Cech, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Ramsey, Ozil, Guendouzi, Nketiah
A second half poacher’s strike from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang helped Arsenal overcome Bournemouth 2-1 at the Vitality Stadium as Unai Emery’s side extended their unbeaten run to 17 games.
The Gunners, who were much better after the break, were made to work hard for their win after Josh King’s strike in first half stoppage time had cancelled out Jefferson Lerma’s spectacular own goal.
The result doesn’t affect Arsenal’s league place, we stay in fifth, but we have closed the gap on Chelsea to a point before we face Sp*rs at the Emirates next weekend.
Bournemouth were by far the brighter side in the opening stages, hustling our midfielders and looking to play quick passes inside the channels of our three-man defence. Both Wilson and King seemed to enjoy life against Mustafi and Sokratis, neither of whom looked particularly convincing alongside the more level-headed Holding.
Our German was on his arse in the box playing David Brooks onside when the Welshman slotted home on eight minutes. An offside flag came as a relief but if VAR had been an option, it would have been a goal.
Torreira, a bright spark in the hazy sunshine, almost punished the home side immediately. Taking matters into his own hands, he drove through the midfield and unleashed a shot from outside the box that clattered off the post. Iwobi’s effort on the rebound flew high and wide.
That aside, we really struggled to play our game in the opening 20 minutes with Leno often resorting to long balls aimed at Aubameyang. The Gabon international looked very isolated with Iwobi and Mkhitaryan offering little support.
Mustafi and Sokratis both earned the attention of the referee Craig Pawson who ticked off the German for cleaning out Ryan Fraser. The Greek earned a booking for wrestling King on the edge of the Arsenal box and was lucky that Leno could push away Fraser’s free-kick as it arrowed towards the top corner.
Less than impressed by the way the game was being handled, the travelling Gooners directed their ire at the officials. “This ref is shit,” could be heard on repeat as Torreira picked up the ball on 30 minutes and picked out Kolasinac racing down the left.
The full-back pulled the ball back hoping to pick out a teammate but before any could get to the ball, Colombian Jefferson Lerma crashed the ball home on the volley. It was a real shame for him that it was past his own keeper, a lovely finish. (1-0)
After the goal, we started to exert our dominance. Iwobi took advantage of space in front of him to try his luck from the edge of the box. His considered, curling effort was tipped around the post by Begovic.
Not long after, a Bellerin cross was cleared as men in spearmint lined up to convert and Mkhitaryan, who for the most part had a shocking half, fluffed two efforts; one over the bar and another straight at the keeper.
For the first time this season it looked as though we might carry a lead into half-time, but then we got caught on the break as we pushed for a second goal and King, fed by Brooks, found the top corner with a cracking finish. (1-1)
What was it Rob Holding was saying this week about us being much better against opposition counter-attacks? Hmm.
Arsenal were noticeably more aggressive after the break. We seemed to press a little higher up the pitch and allowed the home side far less time on the ball to pick out passes.
Torreira, after some trademarked midfield pickpocketing, had a shot deflected over and Mkhitaryan, after stealing the ball from Lerma near the Bournemouth box, found Aubameyang who squandered a decent chance by shooting over.
Within two minutes our record signing made amends, finishing off a lovely team goal that started with a free-kick after Lerma had hauled down Mustafi and earned a booking. Quick, short passing worked the ball from Torreira to Kolasinac via Xhaka and Iwobi before Auba, at the back post, slid in to restore the lead. It was his eighth goal of the Premier League season and Kola’s second assist of the match. (2-1)
We might have had a third soon after. Aubameyang stole the ball on the halfway line, bound forward and slipped in Mkhitaryan who never looked like he was going to score and promptly scuffed the ball out for a goal kick.
As Bournemouth tried to bounce back, we looked to capitalise on the break. Kolasinac did brilliantly down the left to create a chance for himself but could only find the side netting with a drilled effort. And Mkhitaryan, once again, made a hash of a shot that flew over. Somehow the Armenian was left on while Torreira and Iwobi were replaced by Guendouzi and
There were nervy moments at the other end as well. Stanislas, on as a sub, had a chance to level but his toe-poked effort from five yards didn’t have enough pace to trouble Leno.
More scary was a Lerma effort that crashed off the post from long range and a cross that Leno grabbed from the head of Wilson following a decisive Sokratis deflection. Another deflection from the Greek, this time diverting a last minute corner goalwards, forced the German to push the ball off his goal line.
Just to add to the drama, in the fifth of four minutes of stoppage time, Mustafi conceded a free-kick on the edge of the Arsenal box with a ridiculous foul on Wilson. Stanislas lined up the ball knowing his kick would be the last of the game. He couldn’t find the target. The travelling support breathed a huge sigh of relief.
A decent win. Not a pretty one. But important nonetheless.