Arsenal (2) 5 AFC Bournemouth (1) 1
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Wednesday, 27th January 2019. Kick-off time: 7.45pm
(4-2-3-1) Leno; Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal, Jenkinson; Guendouzi, Torreira; Kolašinac, Mkhitaryan, Özil; Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Čech, Elneny, Ramsey, Lacazette, Iwobi, Mustafi, Suárez.
Scorers: Özil, Mkhitaryan, Koscielny, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Yellow Card: Sokratis, Torreira
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
At the end of the day, it was purely down to five goals from five different goalscorers, and a performance that truly showed Arsenal’s class at last in the Premiership. Despite the last few matches in which we looked anything but top four contenders at times, tonight’s performance was absolutely sublime; and this was down to the enigmatic and controversial figure of Mesut Özil.
Okay, it would be easy for the nay-sayers to state that “it was only Bournemouth” and “what else do you expect?” but the bottom line of it all was that Arsenal found their inner beast here at The Emirates tonight, and for once they were single-minded in their approach and ruthless in the delivery of their victory. Right from the fourth minute, when Mesut Özil scored, it looked the match that it really became, where there was only one team on the pitch tonight.
Mesut Özil’s silky skills shone through silver and gold throughout the proceedings, and the second goal, which came after 27 minutes showed his dominance and influence on the pitch. Henrikh Mkhitaryan passed the ball to Mesut Özil who quickly slotted it back to him and of course our Armenian striker wasted no time in scoring Arsenal’s second of the night. Three minutes later, Arsenal hearts were a-flutter in the stadium when the visitors got a goal back through Lys Mousset who scored with a simple tap-in, but really there was no need for panic to set in. For the rest of the half, Arsenal were solid, yet still created chances to score, and despite one or two scares, we went into the break on the ascendancy.
A couple of minutes into the new half, Arsenal were three goals to the good when Laurent Koscielny scored off a post, and although Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang drove the ball home to make sure, the tech results proved beyond doubt that it was the captain’s goal all the way. And still Bournemouth had their chances with a Dan Gosling shot striking the crossbar, and Bernd Leno making an athletic save, but all in all our luck held and our night was not to be ruined. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang showed supreme confidence when he run onto a Henrikh Mkhitaryan pass and simply went past the Cherries’ goalkeeper and placed the ball into the net for the fourth goal, and twelve minutes from time, the substitute striker Alexandre Lacazette was the fifth and final Arsenal player to get onto the score-sheet tonight with the winning goal from a firmly-taken free-kick. Arsenal 5, AFC Bournemouth 1. A scoreline that brings back confidence to a sometimes lacklustre team and a warning shot across Tottenham Hotspur’s bows for the North London derby at Wembley Stadium on Saturday lunchtime.
Mr. Emery’s tactics tonight were absolutely spot-on; he saw the challenge of Bournemouth, rose to it, met it and summarily destroyed it. Arsenal are now fourth in the Premiership and at this stage in the season, it is vitally important for us to retain the momentum and keep going and maintain the boiling pot at all costs. Whether this team will be same one that starts on Saturday is open to conjecture, but with three important matches coming up in the next eleven days against Tottenham Hotspur, Rennes (in the Europa Cup) and Manchester United, the pressure is truly on. Keep going lads, you’re looking good; don’t let it slip. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.