Arsenal Vs Bournemouth: Highlights and analysis from vibrant win

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal celebrates scoring his sides second goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and AFC Bournemouth at Emirates Stadium on September 9, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal celebrates scoring his sides second goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and AFC Bournemouth at Emirates Stadium on September 9, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) /

Arsenal took on Bournemouth as the Premier League returned on Saturday. Here is the full recap, all the highlights and analysis from the 3-0 win.

That was a vibrant and vital win for Arsenal. With Arsene Wenger under increasing pressure thanks to a mismanaged transfer window and a series of tactical and selection issues so far this season, there was a great need for a confidence-instilling performance and result. He needed his side to prove their self-proclaimed title chances with the start of the Europa League and a trip to Stamford Bridge on the horizon. Thankfully, that was exactly what he got.

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The first half started exactly as Arsenal would have hoped. With the potential for an unsettling atmosphere around the Emirates, if Bournemouth made the going tough early on, Arsenal settled any nerves after a deadline day debacle and Liverpool’s dismantling of them thanks to Danny Welbeck.

With Sead Kolasinac now playing in his most natural role at left wing-back, provided with the freedom to maraud forward down the flank, it was his attacking intent that engineered the first goal. Aaron Ramsey, with a cute pass down the line, released the bombarding Bosnian, who then surged towards the by-line. Clipping a neat cross into the penalty area, Welbeck, who had pulled off the centre-half, headed towards goal, with a deflection off his own shoulder diverting the ball past the stranded Asmir Begovic.

Chances did begin to come, slowly. A Mesut Ozil free kick was well-saved by Asmir Begovic. Another dangerous Sead Kolasinac cross didn’t come to anything, while Alexandre Lacazette and Welbeck continued to link up well down the left-flank. And it was that connection that brought Arsenal the second goal.

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Mesut Ozil, who had dropped deep to collect possession, played a lovely, piercing, penetrating low through ball into the feet of Alexandre Lacazette. Nathan Ake, unwisely, tried to nick in front of the Frenchman to intercept the pass. The ball bundled through to Welbeck, who laid it off to Lacazette, before watching his strike partner unleash a beautifully curled shot into the top corner, past the outstretched hand of Begovic. It was a lovely, lovely goal and one that was a prime example of Lacazette’s lethal finishing ability.

The remainder of the half proceeded as you would have expected. Eddie Howe shifted things around a little in a desperate attempt to stock a midfield that was being cut open with every sweeping Arsenal move, but, in reality, little changed. Danny Welbeck’s closing down of Begovic nearly resulted in an Alexandre Lacazette goal, but his shot was smothered well by a recovering Begovic. Sead Kolasinac’s volley was blocked by Adam Smith, with a hint of handball, after some sumptuous football involving Ramsey and Ozil released Hector Bellerin down the inside right channel. Alexandre Lacazette lurked for a Kolasinac pull-back but a last-ditch interception scuppered his hopes of adding to his tally. Arsenal were comfortable; Bournemouth were hapless.

But as soon as the second half started, Bournemouth gave Arsenal a stark and emphatic wake-up call. With the Gunners unable to escape from their defensive third, losing the ball easily, Bournemouth worked space down the right flank. An accurate cross came in. Jermain Defoe lurked, slipping the attentions of Shkodran Mustafi. A header. The post. Petr Cech stranded. It was a stark warning that Bournemouth are dangerous.

Thankfully, they are, also, rather lapse at the back. As Dan Gosling lost the ball to a combined challenge of Aaron Ramsey and a tracking-back Alexandre Lacazette, Ramsey broke forward at an exposed defence, slipped Danny Welbeck in down the left channel, who coolly passed the ball at a tight angle past Asmir Begovic and into the far corner. It was a hard-worked-for opportunity that was well worked, with Ramsey making the right decision at the right time.

After the third goal, the confidence in the side was clear to see. Arsenal’s passing sped up, fizzing balls in and out of the midfield third; they became more creative in their movement, working angles and space with overlapping runs and cute, reverse balls. They pressed Bournemouth high up the pitch, suffocated them of time on the ball, utterly dominating the game and controlling proceedings. Chances also came their way, even if they weren’t taken.

Mesut Ozil lashed a volley just wide of the mark, Aaron Ramsey, found by a wonderful Mesut Ozil pass, couldn’t put enough power on the hooked shot, and Danny Welbeck nearly scored an exquisite hat-trick goal, skipping past a couple of defenders before chipping just wide of the far post.

As the game drew to a close, there was a positive feeling around the Emirates. The only downside was Francis Coquelin, who had earlier come on for Aaron Ramsey, limping off with 10 minutes left to play thanks to what looked like a hamstring strain, leaving Arsenal with just ten men having already made all three subs. Given the nature of the incident — non-contact, sad body language when trudging down the tunnel –, it looks like it could be a bad injury. Nevertheless, Arsenal saw out the game comfortably, earning a clean sheet, thanks to several good saves from Petr Cech in the closing stages, that should not be understated after their defensive failings so far this season.

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It was a dominant performance from Arsenal. They began to play with far more confidence as the game progressed. But as important as the display, the result now leaves them with six points from the first four games and in a position to make a real statement next weekend against Chelsea. If they were able to overcome an improving Blues side with a prolific Alvaro Morata leading the line, then perhaps hopes of a title challenge can begin to sprout. This is by no means the end of their struggles, but it is certainly a helpful start to their recovery process.