A run of draws has dented Arsenal’s confidence who hoped for all three points against Bournemouth. Mathieu Debuchy was brought back in at right back, the Frenchman was one of seven changes from the midweek clash against PSG; Cech, Debuchy, Monreal, Elneny, Xhaka, Walcott and Chamberlain all starting this matchup. The away side were without Jack Wilshere for obvious reasons but lined up with pace in attack. Stanislas, Wilson and King were to provide a solid threat to a nervous Arsenal rearguard.
Both sides started on the front foot, Arsenal forcing Bournemouth bookings whilst the Cherries gave as good as they got in terms of chance creation. In fact it was Bournemouth who unceremoniously created the home sides first, Steve Cook scuffing his pass into the path of Sanchez who accepted the early Christmas present with an assured finish.
Bournemouth responded extremely well to the setback and it wasn’t long before they found more reason to exploit the Arsenal back four. Mathieu Debuchy, making his comeback from injury, lasted just sixteen minutes before coming off via another one. Debuchy’s replacement was Gabriel, the introduction of the Brazilian defender seemed to spur the visitors on and unsettle the Arsenal backline.
Unsettled it was because less than ten minutes later Monreal, struggling for top form, made contact with Callum Wilson whose fall led Mike Jones to point to the spot. Wilson himself stepped up and sent Cech the wrong way, scoring Bournemouths first ever goal against Arsenal in the process. It was deserved. The game ebbed and flowed, Arsenal beginning to build up pressure but the tenacity of Arter in midfield and the pace of the attacking three meant Bournemouth were a constant threat on the break.
Arsenal, pushing for the equaliser, saw Sanchez hit the bar before halftime but didn’t have to wait long in the second half to see a breakthrough. Sanchez and Ozil interchanged passes before the German’s cross found its way to Monreal. The Spaniard cushioned the ball to the back post where Walcott was waiting patiently to head into a gaping goal.
Substitutions and increased Arsenal possession saw the whirlwind tempo of the first half disappear, the Arsenal performance more controlled and composed. Bournemouth however had not given up hope. Benik Afobe, on for Wilson, almost drew his side level but Petr Cech was on hand to thwart the former Arsenal man with a fantastic save from close range.
Giroud and Ramsey also entered the fray with impressive cameos but it was Alexis Sanchez who continued to shine brightest. The Chilean excelling in all aspects in front of the excited Emirates crowd. The well needed victory was completed by the MOTM; Ozil finding Giroud who pulled the ball back for Sanchez who ghosted into space before scoring his second of the day.
Remaining unbeaten and with a number of excellent performers Arsenal remain three points off top spot and will hope to keep up their consistent form.
Follow me on Twitter: @ElliottM95