Review by Sean Barker (Twitter: @_salvatori_)
AFC Bournemouth’s six game unbeaten run came to end at the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal’s class proved too much with the hosts taking all the points with a 2-0 victory.
Victories over Chelsea and Manchester United in recent weeks have shown that the Cherries needn’t fear any team, and for the first 25 minutes they more than matched an opposition who were looking for the win that would take them to the top of the Premier League table.
Striker Joshua King was restored to the starting line-up in place of Glenn Murray, who dropped to the bench and proved lively in the opening period, twice forcing saves from Cech in Arsenal’s goal.
On the left wing Marc Pugh, who was brought in for Stanislas, saw lots of ball in this early purple patch for the visitors and his play just lacked the final decent quality cross to match his good footwork as he looked to cause trouble in the final third.
The only noise heard within the stadium was that of the Bournemouth supporters as they cheered on the team and it felt like a goal was not far away, to give them even more to sing about.
However, as has been shown multiple times this season – one lapse in concentration can cost you at this level, and on 27 minutes a corner from Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil was headed home by Gabriel as he was given far too much space in the area by his marker, Charlie Daniels.
This goal changed everything.
Bournemouth were suddenly on the ropes and it felt like any moment Arsenal would deliver the knockout punch. Every time they had a corner Bournemouth looked vulnerable and the usual composure shown by the Cherries on the ball disappeared as Arsenal took total control.
Only a couple of great saves from Artur Boruc kept the game at 1-0 as the game reached half time.
The start of the second half saw Bournemouth try to regain a foothold on the match but any hopes of taking a point from the game were extinguished in the 67th minute by a goal of the highest quality from Arsenal.
Mesut Ozil, surely already a candidate for player of the season, drove to the edge of the Bournemouth box before playing a one-two with Giroud. The Frenchman produced a flicked back-heel pass through the Cherries defence for Ozil to control on his chest, before cooly side footing it past Boruc in to the back of the net.
With the second goal, the game was over and despite some late possession from Bournemouth and a Murray shot that was saved by Cech, the points were always going to the home side.
With a small squad and a tight schedule over Christmas, with this being the 2nd game in just 3 days, it was always going to be a tough December for the Cherries. Having taken 10 points from a possible 15 during the month, it has been a fantastic haul and so this defeat was not a disaster for the side and instead can be viewed as yet more experience building.
A trip to the League’s surprise-package Leicester City is next up for Bournemouth, as well as the opening of the Transfer Window, so it will be a busy January for Eddie Howe and his team as they hope to build on the impressive form shown in recent weeks.
As official sponsor of AFC Bournemouth and Crystal Palace FC, Mansion will be offering unique insights into the team’s games each week, through collaboration with a selection of passionate fan reviewers.