Arsenal beat The Cherries in a busy Christmas period making them momentary table toppers, at least till the game between fellow title contenders Manchester City and surprise competitors Leicester City commences.
Arsenal responded diligently to their jaw dropping and below par performance against Southampton, with a comfortable victory over AFC Bournemouth 48 hrs later that could have seen the Gunners score 4 or 5 past the Cherries but were able to convert only 2, while the visitors failed to hit the net even once. Petr Cech set a new record in this fixture: The Czech international now holds the record for maintaining the maximum clean sheets (170) in the Premier League, breaking David James’s record of a 169. Additionally, the newly recruited Arsenal stopper has done so in 220 lesser appearances than the former Portsmouth, Liverpool and England man.
Arsenal made 4 changes to the team that played against Southampton. Mathieu Flamini, who had a slightly inflated ankle was rested and replaced by Calum Chambers in the middle of the park alongside Aaron Ramsey. Defenders Gibbs and Gabriel were called up to give Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal a rest, ( on the bench, that is!) and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain was brought in to replace Joel Campbell who found a place on the bench. Youngsters Alex Iwobi and Jeff Reine-Adelaide too made it to the bench for this game.
Both teams started at a slow pace, and were not able to do much with the ball. It seemed evident that the Gunners were cautious of not wanting any of their outfield players injured, and were therefore not in it to play a physical and rigorous game of football, while simultaneously wanting to win it convincingly. Calum Chambers and Aaron Ramsey did a fine job by keeping the game simple in the first half. The second half saw the Gunners gain much more control ; with 4 to 5 players attacking their opponents repeatedly. Unfortunately, the home side could not increase their goal tally and compensate for the goals conceded at St. Mary’s. It was clear however that the team had no intention of nicking this one and defending a 1 goal lead; the Gunners were in it for the kill.
It was a big day for Arsenal defender Gabriel, who returned to the starting 11 and scored his first goal for the club, off yet another Mesut Ozil assist. Unmarked completely on a corner, Gabriel ran into the box and headed in a sitter while the Bournemouth defensive line watched on, completely helpless. The Brazilian also had the most (3)shots on target for the Gunners, along with Olivier Giroud. Mesut Ozil did not stop performing his magic, and has deservedly earned the reputation of ‘the king of assists’ in the league.
The German playmaker too got onto the score sheet in this match , when Arsenal began an intricate and quick counter on the right flank that involved several Arsenal players including Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud. Of the regulars who found themselves on the bench, Monreal was brought on for Kieran Gibbs, while Joel Campbell got ten minutes of play time. Youngster Alex Iwobi got a chance to feature in this game for a few seconds before the final whistle. Calum Chambers, who has otherwise been touted as more of a central defender impressed extensively in the holding midfielder role, where he has previously featured for the U-21 side as well as for the senior team, though usually as a substitute.
It can be said with some conviction that Arsenal were committed to responding with a win, which they did with a fine performance. On any other day, this could have ended with the Gunners scoring at the least, 3 more goals. Nevertheless, a win was a must and was achieved with utmost dedication and craft.
Well played Arsenal!