Report: Bournemouth 2-1 Arsenal (inc. goals)

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Starting XI: Cech, Chambers, Mustafi, Holding, Bellerin, Xhaka, Wilshere, Maitland-Niles, Welbeck, Iwobi, Lacazette

Subs: Ospina, Mertesacker, Elneny, Ramsey, Kolasinac, Walcott, Nketiah


 

Arsenal’s awful form on the road continued at the Vitality Stadium as Bournemouth came from behind to secure a 2-1 win.

Hector Bellerin put the Gunners ahead on 52 minutes but quick-fire goals from Callum Wilson and Jordan Ibe turned things around for Eddie Howe’s team.

Defeat leaves Arsene Wenger’s side five points behind Sp*rs who are fifth.

First half

If the first half at the Vitality Stadium was your first ever taste of English football, you’d probably not bother watching it again. To say it lacked quality is a real understatement.

Arsenal, without the injured Mesut Ozil and soon-to-be-in-Manchester Alexis Sanchez, were painfully one-dimensional on the ball. Bournemouth, until about five minutes before half time, seemed ok with that and mostly just sat back soaking up pressure before hacking the ball up the pitch.

Jack Wilshere was tidy on the ball in the centre of midfield but the likes of Iwobi, Bellerin, Welbeck and Lacazette looked so short of confidence that whenever they received a pass it was surprising they didn’t just burst into tears.

In fairness, Arsenal started relatively brightly. On 8 minutes, Maitland-Niles, collecting a cross at the back post, twisted and turned to make space before cracking a shot that flicked off the top of the bar on the angle. His performance after that went rapidly downhill as passes went astray all too regularly.

Iwobi did find the odd pocket of space but his final ball and finishing is so erratic. He managed to force Begovic into a save, courtesy of a deflection, but that was about it.

Welbeck, fed by Lacazette, had our best chance of the half but could squeeze his shot past Begovic who raced out quickly and saved with his feet. Later, Mustafi twice made dashes to meet Xhaka corners at the near post. Both efforts went wide.

At the other end, Bournemouth felt they should have had a penalty on 37 minutes when the ball seemed to hit Iwobi’s elbow. The referee’s decision to play on incensed the home crowd and players alike. Had VAR been available to the referee, it might well have been awarded.

The incident sparked the Cherries into life and were it not for a brilliant block by Calum Chambers, Ryan Fraser might have broken the deadlock. The little Scot, who did so much damage to us last season, followed up with a rasping drive over Cech’s bar.

Second half

Bournemouth looked the brighter of the two sides in the opening stages of the second period before the Gunners, out of nothing, took the lead on 52 minutes.

Having frustrated in the first half with his passing, Iwobi found a brilliant ball to assist Bellerin. The Spaniard, picking up the ball inside his marker Charlie Daniels, bound goalwards and had just enough power on his shot to beat Begovic. It initially looked like the Bosnian had stopped it but in slow-motion the ball bounced in. (1-0)

Chambers, at the back post, cleared a Francis cross that had deceived Cech. Ibe scuttled away from Holding but couldn’t get enough purchase on his shot to trouble the keeper.

Arsenal came back into things and on several occasions came close to unlocking the home side with through balls inside their three-man defence. Iwobi should have shot but delayed, Welbeck was caught offside. Our profligacy was to prove costly.

With 20 minutes remaining Bournemouth found an equaliser against the run of play. Ryan Fraser making a dart down the right wing crossed to the penalty spot where Calum Wilson nipped ahead of Cech to put the ball into an empty net. (1-1)

Wenger’s response was to remove Chambers, revert to a back four and introduce Aaron Ramsey. Immediately, we conceded a second.

A cross into the box was held up by Mousset who shielded the ball from Holding until Jordan Ibe met it on the run and smashed through Cech. Xhaka, not for the first time, was caught ball watching. (2-1)

Chasing a game they should have been leading, you might have expected Arsenal to up the tempo. Instead, the final 10 minutes were marked by a complete lack of urgency. All we did was pass the ball from side to side and then get caught offside. Bournemouth barely had to break a sweat to keep us at bay.

You get the feeling we could play any side in Europe right now and we’d find a way to lose. Confidence appears to be at rock bottom and with each passing week we’re getting worse. It’s very sad.

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