Arsenal Vs Bournemouth: 5 things we learned – Welcome back, Eddie Nketiah

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BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND – JANUARY 27: Eddie Nketiah of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his sides second goal during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal at Vitality Stadium on January 27, 2020 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

On Monday night, Arsenal travelled to Bournemouth in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Here are five things we learned from the 2-1 win.

In one of the brightest 30-minute periods in many years, Arsenal ripped through a hapless Bournemouth side, raced out to a two-goal lead, and held onto the lead in the latter stages to see themselves through to the fifth round of the FA Cup. Two academy graduates scored the goals, Bukayo Saka first hammering home from a tight angle before teeing up Eddie Nketiah, and a fifth-round tie against Portsmouth now awaits.

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Here are five things we learned from the 2-1 victory.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND – JANUARY 27: Hector Bellerin of Arsenal is put under pressure by Lewis Cook of AFC Bournemouth during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal at Vitality Stadium on January 27, 2020 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

5. Move the ball

The first half-hour was the best 30 minutes of the season. Admittedly, any long-term conclusions drawn should be taken with a rather hefty pinch of salt given the tepidity of Bournemouth’s performance, but this was a superb period of utter dominance from the young Gunners that saw them rip to shreds a Premier League away from home.

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The main reason for their ruthless control of the match during this 30-minute period? The speed at which the ball moved. The tempo of the team’s passing has been something that I have harped on about for many years with Arsenal now. This was the reason why. Bournemouth could not get close to their visitors because every pass was played with speed, accuracy, often first or second time.

It is very difficult to defend against a ball that moves quickly. It can disintegrate the defensive structures that you position your defence in, unpick your high press with one crucial pass, and not give you time to set up in deep positions. There were 22 passes in the build-up to Bukayo Saka’s goal. It involved all 10 outfield players. That summarises their performance in the first 30 minutes, and it all stemmed from moving the ball quickly.

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