By Our Sports Correspondent
Bournemouth 1-2 Arsenal: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hits the winner after Joshua King had clawed the game back level with a stunning effort
- Mesut Ozil was dropped to the bench for the Premier League clash between Arsenal and Bournemouth
- Arsenal didn’t need a forward to score their first goal with Jefferson Lerma slotting an own goal
- But the Cherries got themselves back on terms before half time after a brilliant finish from Joshua King
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang then latched on to Sead Kolasinac’s pinpoint cross to restore the Gunners’ lead
A fine footballing goal won this tight game for an improving Arsenal team but Eddie Howe will know the truth. A manager consumed by fine details, Bournemouth’s coach will know that it was a communal and unforgivable dereliction of duty that cost his team here.
You can never switch off in the Premier League, not for a second. It doesn’t matter who you are playing. Here, after conceding an unnecessary free-kick forty yards from their own goal midway through the second half, Bournemouth momentarily allowed their minds to wander and within 30 seconds the ball was in their net.
It was a pretty goal from Arsenal. Alex Iwobi’s pass inside the full-back to the galloping Sead Kolasinac was particularly lovely and the subsequent low cross to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the far post was absolutely perfect.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck the winner for Arsenal as they beat Bournemouth 2-1 at the Vitality Stadium
Team P GD Pts 1 Manchester City 13 35 35 2 Liverpool 13 21 33 3 Tottenham Hotspur 13 12 30 4 Chelsea 13 17 28 5 Arsenal 13 12 27 6 Everton 13 5 22 7 Manchester United 13 -1 21 8 Bournemouth 13 4 20 9 Watford 13 0 20 10 Leicester City 13 1 18 11 Wolverhampton Wanderers 13 -2 16 12 Brighton and Hove Albion 13 -5 15 13 West Ham United 13 -8 12 14 Huddersfield Town 13 -15 10 15 Newcastle United 12 -6 9 16 Crystal Palace 13 -9 9 17 Burnley 12 -13 9 18 Southampton 13 -14 8 19 Cardiff City 13 -15 8 20 Fulham 13 -19 8
Josh King (No 17) finished off a superbly-worked move to level the game at 1-1
It was a goal that deserved to win a football match.
But watch again and you will see Bournemouth players with their backs turned or their gaze averted when Arsenal restart play. Five Arsenal players were involved as they funnelled the ball across the field and back again and not one of them had a single glove laid on them by an opponent.
So that was what it took to separate these teams. Bournemouth – whose bright start to the season is now under threat after three defeats – will feel they deserved something and probably did. Some things did not go their way and they were pressing very hard for parity at the end.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have improved on the field and in between the ears under the guidance of new manager Unai Emery and the statistics support that.
The London club are now unbeaten in 17 games since the middle of August and have scored at least twice in every one of their Premier League games away from home. If that continues, they will challenge for a top four place that most would have presumed to be beyond them at the start of the campaign. Progress, indeed.
Here, they didn’t actually start very well but their recovery was impressive and sustained. They are still flawed and probably need a couple of extra players at least. But Emery was brave enough to leave Mesut Ozil on the bench after a dismal performance in his last away game at Crystal Palace and he was rewarded with a team performance that spoke of some greater solidity this season.
Wales international David Brooks thought he had handed the home side an early goal when he slotted in this effort
He was left despondent, however, after learning he had been adjudged offside in the build-up to the goal
Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil was forced to watch on from the bench after being dropped by manager Unai Emery
There was a little luck for Arsenal early on and Howe was rightly upset that an eighth minute goal from David Brooks was ruled out for offside. The 21-year-old was dangerous in an opening spell that Bournemouth dominated and beat Bernd Leno from seven yards after playing a ball in to the area and running on to return. He looked offside when he scored but he wasn’t. Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi was playing him on as he lay on the floor and the goal should have stood.
These things are hard to take at the best of times, even more so when you face a side as good as Arsenal. Emery’s team, for their part, rode that luck and improved as the game progressed. Having said that, their opening goal was freakish.
The Colombian Jefferson Lerma played against England in the World Cup and is a formidable athlete. Here, though, he contributed a stunning own goal on the half hour, stretching to intercept a cross from Kolasinac and only managing to volley it powerfully past his own goalkeeper from 14 yards.
It was a once-in-a-career moment and it looked for a while as though it would sink Bournemouth. With the Uruguayan midfielder Lucas Torreira increasingly influential for Arsenal, they started to dominate possession and find space between Bournemouth’s back four and midfield.
Another goal at this stage may have ended things but Bournemouth are capable to hurting the very best teams on the counter and here they stuck back in first half injury time.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Charlie Daniels bid for possession during a toughly-fought contest in the first half
But it was King who got the game back on terms – after Brooks laid him off, the Norwegian bent the ball into the top corner
The striker wheels away towards the supporters in celebration after ending the half on a high with a top-class finish
As an Arsenal attack broke down in their opponents’ penalty area, Bournemouth saw the opportunity to break and did so through Ryan Fraser and then Callum Wilson. Then, when the ball was moved infield to Brooks, he shifted it right to Joshua King who arrived to deliver a superb first time finish with his left instep across Leno and in to the far top corner of the goal.
Emery will not have been impressed with his players’ failure to track the Bournemouth runners and right-back Hector Bellerin was most culpable. The Spaniard was jogging. Still, though, it was a fine goal and one that Bournemouth deserved.
The second half was even tighter than the first. For long periods there was not much in it all. After Arsena’s second goal, Howe’s brave use of substitutes helped his team mount a late charge and with the right bounce of the ball they may have taken something.
Emery’s decision to take Torreira off perhaps affected his team more than he expected and when Lerma smacked a shot against the post from distance with five minutes to go, the Arsenal manager’s relief on the touchline was clear.
Gunners manager Emery gestures on the sidelines as his team look to restore their lead during the second half
Alex Iwobi makes a burst down the wing as the visitors pile on the pressure as the second half wears on
It was the Gabonese striker who provided the winner, sliding in the box before getting his toe on the end of the cross