MATCH REPORT: Bournemouth 0 – 3 Arsenal

AFC Bournemouth (0) 0 Arsenal (2) 3

Premier League

Vitality Stadium, Boscombe, Bournemouth BH7 7BT

Saturday, 20th August 2022. Kick-off time: 5.30pm

(4-2-3-1) Aaron Ramsdale; Ben White, William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhães, Oleksandr Zinchenko; Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka; Bukayo Saka, Martin Ødegaard (c), Gabriel Martinelli; Gabriel Jesus.

Substitutes: Kieran Tierney, Emile Smith-Rowe, Eddie Nketiah, Rob Holding, Rob Holding, Fabio Vieira, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Mohamed Elneny, Matt Turner.

Scorers: Martin Ødegaard (5 mins, 11 mins), William Saliba (53 mins)

Yellow Cards: Gabriel Jesus

Arsenal Possession Percentage: 60%

Referee: Craig Pawson

Assistant Referees: Marc Perry, Scott Ledger

Fourth Official: Graham Scott

VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR Paul Tierney; AVAR Dan Robathan

Attendance: 10,423

In Thursday’s Guardian newspaper, Karen Carney, formerly of the great Arsenal ladies team that were victorious across four competitions in one season (2006-07), has written a most interesting Op-Ed/Sportsblog article that every Arsenal fan should endeavour to read. The heading of the article states that “Arsenal’s fast start is no accident: it is a reward for planning and patience.” She writes that although the fixture list has been kind, Mikel Arteta has rebuilt the culture and now the squad look ready for a return to the top level. Praise also is directed towards Edu and the work he has undertaken on the club’s behalf in the transfer market, along with the manager’s decision to hand the coveted captain’s armband to 23-year-old Martin Ødegaard, placing youth firmly at the helm. 

Karen Carney also points out that although we have had a good transfer window and a superb start, make no mistake about it, it is a long hard journey that must ultimately see us attaining a top four placing along with Champions League qualification for 2023-24 which must be our ultimate aim this season. Please note that this is an excellent article written by an ex-player that has played at the highest level which pulls no punches and underlines the expectations of Arsenal Football Club, and certainly one that needs to be revisited later on in the season.

The boys will be wearing black armbands today in memory of our head groundsman, Steve Braddock, who has sadly passed away a few days ago at the tragically early age of just fifty-eight years old. Our thoughts are of course, with his family at this extremely sad time for them all. Although the Vitality Stadium may well be the smallest ground in the Premiership, both our supporters and the team made their presence felt quite early on here on the sunny south coast. After the usual start, in which both sides looked quite nervous, we settled down rather quickly, and after just five minutes, we took the lead in a confident and decisive movement, following some stunning football from us, Gabriel Jesus trapped a high ball, superbly turned his marker before slipping the ball to Gabriel Martinelli who ran in on goal, who composed himself and saw his low drive saved by goalkeeper Mark Travers but Martin Ødegaard was in the right place for the easiest of finishes. Six minutes later, Martin Ødegaard struck again, moving in as he took the ball off the toe of Gabriel Jesus, who looked rather like he was about to pull the trigger himself! In the build-up to the second goal, Ben White pulled the ball back and after a heartstopping double check from the Stockley Park gang, the goal thankfully stood as defender Ben White managed to time his run to perfection. By the quarter of an hour stage, we looked completely dominant and in control of proceedings, at times, almost embarrasingly so, it has to be said. The home side are trying to make a decent fist of things, but they look totally and utterly out of their depth, and at times, swamped by the speed and hunger of our golden forwards. Bournemouth are trying to catch us using traditional “smash’n’grab” tactics, but when they do use this system, we manage to neutralise them successfully, with William Saliba and Oleksandr Zinchenko doing a sterling job at the back for us. Jordan Zemura received the first yellow card of the match when he brought down Bukayo Saka on the edge of the box, and although the resulting free-kick went nowhere, the booking showed how frustrating the Bournemouth defenders are finding coping with our players today. On the half hour, Gabriel Martinelli was unlucky not to score our third, when the ball that he received from Bukayo Saka saw him being crowded out by Bournemouth defenders before he had a chance to shoot, and although it was a disappointing moment, our resolve was not impacted, and we carried on probing and pushing the Bournemouth defence as the first half continued. As the match started to edge towards the break, Arsenal were totally dominant here at the Vitality Stadium this afternoon, and they are making this game look like a training match at London Colney on a Tuesday afternoon. The Bournemouth players look completely dejected, their heads are down, their body language almost non-existent, and after two minutes injury time, Craig Pawson’s half-time whistle was almost merciful for them.

Somehow, the home side started to make something of themselves in the first five minutes of the second half, but the closest they got to scoring, was when Chris Mepham’s flicked header was caught by Aaron Ramsdale, and then he completely mis-cued the kick upfield with Jaidon Anthony close by, but Jefferson Lerma could not take advantage as he blasted the ball over the bar, which was a close shave, but not really a scary moment to be fair. Sadly, Gabriel Jesus got booked for dragging back Lewis Cook, which was a silly thing to do, especially when we were two goals to the good at this point in the match. However, seven minutes after the restart, we grabbed our third goal of the game and it came courtesy of an excellent strike by French defender William Saliba, who received a pass from Granit Xhaka just inside the area before coolly hitting a first-time strike across the face of the Bournemouth goal and into the far corner of the net, putting the match beyond the reach of the home side now. A few minutes later, Gabriel Martinelli burst through the opponents’ defence, but his shot went high and wide; if he had looked around him, he would have seen that Granit Xhaka was the better option, completely unmarked in the middle of the Bournemouth penalty area. With nineteen minuts of the match remaining, Gabriel Jesus looked like he got on the scoresheet, running through on Martin Ødegaard’s pass and chipping the ball over Mark Travers and into the net, but after a VAR check, it was chalked off for offside. A couple of minutes later, Mikel Arteta made a triple substitution when Martin Ødegaard, Gabriel Martinelli and Ben White were substituted for Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith-Rowe and Takehiro Tomiyasu for the rest of the match. The home side started to come back into the game, when Granit Xhaka cheaply gave the ball away but Marcus Tavernier shot the ball wide from close, and then Aaron Ramsdale stretched to tip away Kieffer Moore’s looping header, which was a genuine scoring chance for the home side. Ryan Christie was brought down by Thomas Partey and the resulting free-kick hit the side netting. With three minutes on the clock remaining of normal time, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Kieran Tierney replaced Granit Xhaka and Bukayo Saka, in order to shore things up a little in the midnfield and at the back. Eddie Nketiah came close to scoring our fourth of the afternoon, running on to a pass in the box but his snap shot was saved by Mark Travers in the Bournemouth goal. In injury time, Kieffer Moore won another header but his effort caused Aaron Ramsdale no issues, and in the fourth and final minute of time added on, Mark Travers kept the scoreline as it was, keeping out Emile Smith-Rowe, who hit a clever shot from an angle, which looked a surefire goal, but referee Craig Pawson blew the whistle shortly afterwards to bring proceedings to a close here at sunny Bournemouth.

According to the history books, Martin Ødegaard is the third Arsenal player to score twice in the first eleven minutes of a Premier League match, after Kanu in October 2002 versus Sunderland and Eddie Nketiah against Leeds United last May; additionally, aged twenty-one years and 149 days old, William Saliba became the youngest Frenchman to score a Premier League goal for Arsenal since Samir Nasri back in November 2008 versus Manchester United (twenty-one years and 135 days). The team played with confidence, strength, desire and skill at the Vitality Stadium this afternoon, and although it could be argued that Bournemouth are a newly promoted side, it still took a lot of concentration and effort to win the way they did. The supporters were wonderful, singing their hearts out and supporting the boys throughout the match, giving the team the final push to achieve their win. All in all, the boys were fantastic today, thoroughly deserved their win, and every man paid their part well. The new players have fitted in very well, and for the first time in a very long time at the beginning of a season, we have hope for some fantastic things. Oh, and we are top of the Premiership this evening, leapfrogging our N17 neighbours into second place!

Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Fulham at the Emirates on Saturday, 27th August at 5.30pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Steve

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

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