A first-half quick-fire double from Mesut Özil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was enough to seal a much-needed three points in a tough away fixture at Dean Court this afternoon.
Gunners create promising chances – and convert accordingly
Mesut Özil netted his fourth League goal of the 2015/16 campaign with aplomb after Olivier Giroud‘s headed flick downwards saw the ball float towards the silky German in close proximity with only Artur Boruc left to beat. The Polish goalkeeper was left with no chance as Mesut’s strike flashed into the top corner in some style – before he wheeled away to celebrate as the hosts’ backline were left effectively stunned.
It went from bad-to-worse just a minute later, when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain doubled the lead with an excellent finish from a tight angle after some rather questionable defending courtesy of Eddie Howe‘s side. They’d gifted Aaron Ramsey too much space to roam free unopposed on the edge of the area, and his pass was fed into the path of the English forward – who beat his marker to the ball and slotted his effort across goal, giving Boruc little chance of stopping the shot in the process.
To their credit, Cherries refused to lie down
Petr Čech was forced into making a number of important saves to keep the Gunners on top, as Bournemouth were evidently feeding off the enthusiasm from home supporters and looked dangerous going forward upon occasion. Harry Arter was thwarted by an acrobatic stop by the 33-year-old, tipping the midfielder’s superb strike over the crossbar in the process.
Hector Bellerín made an excellent last-ditch interception to dispossess Marc Pugh of the ball as he drove forward on the counter-attack, edging closer towards a one-on-one opportunity to halve the deficit. A half-hearted penalty appeal and half-chance aside, the first-half ended with Arsenal deservedly ahead.
Effective defending, half-chances and Čech’s goalkeeping masterclass
In the second-half, it was more of the same. The visitors dominated in terms of possession and passing, whilst Bournemouth did all they could to try and get themselves back in with a chance of snatching a result – a point or three – from an unpredictable game.
It seemed they were one slice short of a sandwich at times though, the final ball in the final third was either inconsistent or poorly delivered, allowing the centre-back pairing of Gabriel and Laurent Koscielny time to recover possession or clear their lines when required.
Junior Stanislas was at the heart of things on the wing as he tried to weave some magic to at the very least, make it 2-1 and give Arsenal a late scare for the three points. Bournemouth’s performance was typified by one crucial moment in the area, after Stanislas whipped in an excellent delivery towards teammates in space. As opposed to striking at goal, they were static and ball-watching, as Arsenal were relieved to scamper the ball clear.
Čech made an excellent double save in stoppage time to maintain his clean sheet in another impressive display from the Czech Republic international, before the referee eventually blew his whistle to signal full-time. A much-needed win after a frustrating result in midweek against Southampton, and with leaders Leicester (at home) next weekend, the title race is definitely not out of the question for the Gunners.