Result: Bournemouth 0-3 Arsenal
Competition: Premier League
Date: 20 August 2022
Venue: Vitality Stadium
Arsenal: Ramsdale, White (74), Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Xhaka (88), Partey, Saka (88), Odegaard (74), Martinelli (74), Jesus
Subs: Turner, Tierney (88), Tomiyasu (74), Holding, Elneny, Sambi (88), Vieira, Smith Rowe (74), Nketiah (74)
A first half brace from Martin Odegaard and a superb striker from William Saliba saw Arsenal coast to a 3-0 win over Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
You’re always hopeful of a fast start when you play away from home and boy did Arteta’s players deliver. Fielding the same starting XI for the third game running, we looked confident from the off and keen to make a statement. Within five minutes we’d done exactly that.
When Ben White lumped forward it looked like the type of ball that would be meat and drink for Bournemouth’s defence. Instead, Jesus barged debutant Senesi out of the way, took the deftest of touches to control the ball and immediately drove forward, dribbling past three men before slipping in Gabriel Martinelli. The youngster will be annoyed he didn’t finish the job himself but after keeper Travers made a decent stop, Odegaard was on hand to tap into an empty net. (GOAL – 1-0)
There was no easing up after that and the Norwegian didn’t have to wait long for his second. Saka fed White down the right flank, the full-back picked out Jesus with a cutback and Odegaard, taking the ball off the Brazilian’s toes, swiped home with his left foot. Superb stuff. (GOAL – 2-0)
After that, it was all about keeping Bournemouth at arm’s length. We played neat little triangles all over the pitch, probed down the wings and generally enjoyed keeping the ball.
When we lost it, the number of times we stole it back inside five seconds was genuinely incredible. Zinchenko alone made nine ball recoveries in the first half and Thomas Partey with five was also superb. There was no need for Mikel Arteta to be upset, the duels were being won.
On the odd occasion when the home side made it into the final third, Saliba was on hand to mop up. The Frenchman was again majestic and found himself being serenaded for five minutes straight with a brand new chant to the tune of The Champs’ “Tequila”. Having started oléing between the goals, it’s fair to say the travelling Gooners were having a good time.
If there was a gripe, it was that we didn’t create more clear-cut chances before the break. You’re always nervous knowing a goal back could change the complexion of the game.
The Cherries looked more determined after Scott Parker’s team talk and we had to deal with an early aerial bombardment. Gabriel and Ramsdale did what they had to do although our keeper did have a nervy moment when he mishit a clearance trying to start a quick attack.
His teammates’ response was to put the game to bed. A short free-kick by Saka allowed Martinelli space to dart down the right and curl a deep cross to Xhaka at the back post. The Swiss laid the ball back to Saliba on the edge of the box and the centre-back made light work of finding the top corner with a superb left foot curler. As the Frenchman raced off to celebrate, Zinchenko just went to his knees and put his hands on his head. That’s what the Ukrainian thought of the strike. It was a thing of beauty. (GOAL – 3-0)
We still had to be on our guard and were thankful for a very decent header by Gabriel to clear our lines after a dangerous corner. At the other end, Martinelli went through but couldn’t keep an effort down. A second attempt by the attacker also found row Z. A third, an instinctive volley, was closer but wide.
Compatriot Jesus did put the ball in the back of the net with a delightful dinked finish but after an absolute age VAR ruled it out for a very close offside. Having celebrated, he looked really gutted not to get on the scoresheet. Jesus would have another chance with four minutes remaining but Travers produced a great save.
In between, Bournemouth, following a triple change by the Gunners, forced a flurry of efforts. Tavernier twice came close, Ramsdale made an unnecessary save from a Moore header and Gabriel again cleared a corner from on the goalline.
Substitutes Nketiah and Smith Rowe had chances to add a late gloss to proceedings but couldn’t beat Travers who did well all afternoon to keep things respectable for the home side. At the full time whistle, the Gunners, quite rightly, were all smiles.
It’s the first time in 18 years we’ve won our first three games and we’re temporarily up to top spot in the Premier League. It’s a nice view from up here. We should do this more often.