There can be no doubt about it, our 17th game unbeaten was one of the sweetest. Arsenal powered to victory away at Bournemouth after a 2 week international break and 3 draws on the bounce. We hadn’t won for a little over a month. We were playing a team that sat 4 points behind us in the table, and 6 places above us in the xG league.
The game wasn’t pretty. The performance left a lot to be desired. There were some performances I could smell in New York. But once again, it was the 3 points that mattered.
Lady Luck was riding with us, which helped. The first goal of the game came from Lermar, the impressive number 8 brought in this summer for £25m. Iwobi was found in the half-space, he rolled a ball into Kolasinac who crossed dangerously into the box, Lerma was fully committed to the clearance and fortunately caught the ball clean on the volley and sent it past Begovic. A fucking great finish.
We couldn’t let the half finish on a high. We overcommitted in the Bournemouth box on 45minutes. Iwobi pirouetted, lost the ball, the counter-attack broke with Bellerin and Torreira nowhere to be seen. Mikhi tracked back for a bit, but gave up. The ball found its way to King at the back post and he made no mistake under no pressure and fizzed a perfect shot into Leno’s top corner.
The second half saw Arsenal claw their way back. We took more control of the game, Bournemouth started to look leggy, and our quality showed. We capitalised on our possession, Iwobi again found in the half-space slotted a perfect pass inside the fullback, Kolasinac made the most of his run finding Auba in the box, with the finish never in question.
Arsenal went full on banter years towards the end. Bournemouth hit the post from 30 years, Leno had to make a few very important saves, and Mustafi lunged into a stupid challenge on 95minutes to give us all a heart attack. The freekick went over, so it was fine.
So what did we learn?
Emery doesn’t fancy his most expensive player against teams that ruffle feathers.
‘We thought how we can be better in the match, a very demanding match with physicality and intensity,’
‘But every player is important. We worked today and it is another possibility to improve or find our best performance in the squad.
‘In the beginning of the season we were speaking every day about the need to be competitive. We need to be organised, we need the individual quality to improve our performance.
‘It’s the same today. It depends. It depends how the match is going, what the result is. I decided for another option. We knew this is a difficult stadium, a difficult team.
‘Seventeen matches we haven’t lost, but the last three matches we drew. We know that is not enough for us, for our objectives.’
Quite the indictment, but an honest appraisal. The brutal truth is that we’re rocking £520k worth of #10 talent and neither are good enough for what we need. Mikhi was given a rare start, but he looked utterly out of place. He lacked urgency, I don’t think he worked hard, his passing was off key and his shooting was attrocious. I was game for rejuvenating his career, but it doesn’t look good. He doesn’t look focused on proving the doubters wrong.
The question I have is this: If Emery doesn’t fancy Ozil against physical team, what the fuck is he going to do against Spurs next week?
Bernd Leno continued to impress. He has the right level of theatre with his saves, but my word, he’s all over that goal. He made some very sharp saves yesterday. He’s just so reassuring to have at the back. It’s been rare to have a keeper that drops MOM performances, but I think this guy does.
Sokratis was in a wrestling match against King today. Sure, the Bournemouth striker is very strong, but my concern is the Greek just isn’t that mobile. He’s wrestling because he can’t keep up. Combine that with the donut behaviour of Mustafi, and, well, you have a problem next week against Spurs. Kane, Alli, Son and Erikson are going to have a field day if we don’t button up.
I think a few pointed out that Torreira didn’t look in good shape by the time he was taken off today. He’s bearing the workload of two players because Xhaka isn’t exactly mobile. He’ll have to do some work next week, so we have to hope he has enough energy in his legs, and that the club give him the right amount of R&R
I took some pelters for suggesting Iwobi was regressing. I misphrased. I didn’t feel he was offering us the levels he was earlier in the season. I think maybe I was unfair, he was involved in two goals and the pass for the second was exceptional. But, you have to put that against the backdrop of the error in the build-up to the Bournemouth goal. I think we need to upgrade in our wide positions. We need pace, more technique and real width.
- We have won more away games this season than we did in the whole of last season. Which is good.
- We still haven’t led at halftime. Which is both bad, for obvs reasons. But good, because we’re masters of the second half.
- xNerd stats: Arsenal 1.65 Bournemouth 0.65
- We had 20 attempts on goal. 4 on target. 1 goal. Does the stat for conversion only count if it’s on target? Is our conversion rate 25% or 50% with an own goal? Either way, yesterday was a bad day in front of goal.
Bring on Spurs (AFTER WE TAKE THE KIDS TO VORSKLA)
P.S. Emery learns his English by way of the Peaky Blinders. I like him.
“Now I am watching English TV series to improve my English… Peaky Blinders is good but it is difficult, from Birmingham!”
“And it’s very aggressive. But it’s good, it’s good.”