Result: Bournemouth 0-4 Arsenal
Competition: Premier League
Date: 30 September 2023
Venue: Vitality Stadium
Arsenal: Raya, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Rice, Havertz, Odegaard, Saka, Jesus, Nketiah
Subs: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, Kiwior, Jorginho, Elneny, Smith Rowe, Vieira, Trossard, Nelson
Arsenal made it three wins from three on the road in the Premier League with a comprehensive 4-0 hammering of Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
Bukayo Saka put the Gunners ahead with a close-range header on 17 minutes before Martin Odegaard and Kai Havertz netted penalties either side of the break. In stoppage time, Ben White rounded off the scoring with a tidy header.
The three points mean Arsenal temporarily climb up to second place in the table ahead of City’s visit to the Emirates last weekend. After their defeat to Wolves, things are looking very interesting at the top of the table.
Having had eight players sidelined with knocks and muscular issues for the midweek win over Brentford, Mikel Arteta will have been delighted to welcome back five of them to his matchday squad at the Vitality. William Saliba, Declan Rice, and Bukayo Saka were all passed fit to start the match while Fabio Vieira and Leandro Trossard took up places on the bench. Eddie Nketiah was charged with leading the line with Kai Havertz and Gabriel Jesus playing as a unit on the left.
The home fans were encouraged by a positive and bold start by the Cherries who knocked the ball around smoothly. In contrast, the Gunners were sloppy, often guilty of the ‘hospital passes’ the manager had referenced in his pre-game press conference.
Six minutes had elapsed before Arsenal worked the ball into the Bournemouth half but the chance we subsequently created was promising. Saka fed the overlapping White and his cross was scrambled away.
Slowly but surely, Arsenal started to get a grip on the game with captain Odegaard pulling the strings in the pocket between Bournemouth’s midfield and defence. Havertz and Jesus also combined well down the left leading to the German firing a deflected effort into the side netting.
We didn’t have it all our own way, Saliba was forced into a well-timed tackle on Solanke as the striker burst into the box, but we were worthy of our lead when it came on 16 minutes.
Nketiah set off on a determined run before finding Saka on the right, he returned the ball in-field to Odegaard who, from the edge of the box, dinked a teasing ball to the back post for Jesus to head goalwards. The Brazilian’s effort bounced off the woodwork straight to Saka who was free to nod into an empty net for his fifth goal of the season. (GOAL 1-0).
Having been subdued against Sp*rs, Odegaard was full of pep here. A beautiful, clipped sand wedge of a pass nearly found Nketiah before a slide-rule through ball freed Jesus. His cross resulted in a corner which was worked short to Zinchenko who stung the palms of Neto with a rocket from outside the box.
Havertz went in the book for a later challenge on Billing who then retaliated with a foul of his own that wasn’t punished by a card. The Arsenal fans were not impressed with referee Michael Salisbury who was treated to a round of “You don’t know what you’re doing” when Saka and Jesus were also roughed up. It was all getting a bit scruffy and niggly.
Three minutes before the break, the officials came up trumps for the Gunners. After a give-and-go with Zinchenko, Nketiah burst into the box and was tripped by Aarons. It was as clear and obvious a penalty as they come. Thankfully, the referee agreed. Odegaard stepped up, stuttered his run up and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. (GOAL 2-0)
Five minutes of stoppage time were arguably our most uncomfortable of the half. Gabriel Magalhaes was forced into a desperate but brilliantly timed block – greeted like it was a goal by his teammates – and Raya had to make his first stop, diving left to claim a bouncing effort by Christie.
Arsenal came close to a third inside 90 seconds of the restart with Saka and Zinchenko both having efforts from close range after more clever work by Odegaard.
Four minutes later, our captain won our second penalty of the afternoon. He probably should have shot first time when the ball was laid off to him in the box, instead he took a touch, drew a challenge from behind by Christie and hit the turf.
Again, it was a definite penalty. The question was who’d take it. Saka and Odegaard had a chat and handed the ball to Havertz. He didn’t look overly confident as he stepped up but he put the ball away with aplomb and was promptly mobbed by his teammates. (GOAL 3-0)
Such is his personality, he almost looked uncomfortable with the attention but he must have enjoyed the moment, especially as the travelling Gooners piped up with a brand new chant for him to the tune of Shakira’s ‘Waka Waka’.
Arsenal continued to push forward and Nketiah thought he’d drawn another foul closing in on the box but his claims were waved away. Replays showed a small nudge in the back that probably should have resulted in a red card for the offending Bournemouth defender.
Nketiah’s final action of the afternoon was a shot flashed just wide of Neto’s post. The striker went off to a standing ovation after a very decent performance. He was replaced by Reiss Nelson while Takehiro Tomiyasu came on for Zinchenko. Saka followed them off the pitch soon after. Having taken yet another knock to his ankle, he required treatment before Fabio Vieira came on in his place.
Desperate for a goal, Bournemouth had lots of the ball around our box but their finishing was nothing short of appalling. Our plan was to hit them on the break and Jesus came close to a fourth with a rasping low drive across goal. Jorginho for Rice and Smith Rowe for Havertz rounded off the substitutions.
The final 10 minutes were basically a training match with the Gunners knocking the ball between themselves while the travelling fans taunted the home support with a full repertoire of their favourite tunes.
Smith Rowe came desperately close to getting on the scoresheet – Neto made a fine fingertip save – before White added a cherry on top deep into stoppage time with a header from a free-kick. (GOAL 4-0)
All in all, a very good day at the office. Of course, stiffer tests await this week. There’s a midweek Champions League test in Lens and then the small matter of City at the Emirates. Win that and we could go top.