Date: 29th November 2016 at 7:28am
Written by: Garbo

It was a match that would measure just how far we have adjusted to The PL since our initial season against the big guns. Last season we looked starry eyed at The Emirates and Arsenal rolled us over without really having to get stuck in. This match was different we did apply ourselves as a more experienced side. Injuries still left us short of Boruc, Surman and Daniels, and Wilshere was not permitted to turn out against his parent club. Federici and Ake kept their places from last week`s success at Stoke and Brad Smith was put in at left back for his debut, his namesake Adam was in the side in a right wing back role as Francis retained his position and Ake stayed in the middle. The game started with Arsenal on the front foot and before we could blink both Cook and Francis had been booked for tackles that were made to look far worse by the Arsenal players theatricals, many other referees would have probably just had a word and not carded them. I don`t know if this made our back four nervy or edgy but after eleven minutes Cook received a ball from Federici and was panicked into returning it much too short and SANCHEZ pounced like the class player he is and rolled into past Federici to put Arsenal ahead. Arsenal continued to push us back and spent a fair amount of time taunting the Bournemouth defence with their neat interplay. Josh King was causing some consternation for the home defence with his pace and we looked like we had recovered from the early set back, Wilson too was active although his touch seems to have dropped a notch or two at times. The unfortunate Debuchy was taken off with what looked like a serious ankle injury after the quarter hour and was replaced by Gabriel.We were putting some pressure on the home side and forced a flurry of corners that unfortunately never bore fruit. Wilson was then fouled inside the box by Monreal and Mike Jones pointed to the spot without hesitation, WILSON sent Cech the wrong way with his kick and we were level with our first goal ever against Arsenal. The home crowd seem to go even further into their shell as we battled to force the issue Adam Smith headed inches over from close range and then had a shot that Cech saved at his near post. Sanchez put a cross shot onto the bar and the game was becoming almost end to end. Arsenal were playing some good football down the flanks and both Smith and Francis were kept on their toes up to half time.

HT 1-1

The second half saw a determined Arsenal up their game to give us a challenge to hang on to a draw and we were under the cosh with the attacking play of Walcott and Sanchez and Ake was again starring in the back four. Arter was putting himself about with his usual style and was lucky not to have been carded for a late tackle, however he did manage to upset Mr Jones with his dissent and was yellow carded. Some sloppy play saw Arsenal get a deflected cross into the box and WALCOTT was totally unmarked at the back post to head in a simple goal. We really must defend tighter at this level if we are to move into a comfortable position in this league. So after all our efforts two poorly defended situations saw us 2-1 down. Eddie threw on Afobe for a slightly dejected Wilson; the ex-Arsenal man received some decent applause from the home fans who did wake up now their team was in the lead again. Francis was getting some joy down our right linking up well with Adam Smith and Josh King was also getting in good positions, but try as we might the Arsenal defence stood firm and resolute. There was a seemingly valid shout for a hand ball against Monreal which could have been given on another day, but this day at The Emirates in front of the home fans Mr Jones and his assistant preferred not to. Indeed there were several incidents of handball that went unpunished during the match. The game was stretching as we looked for an equaliser Mousset was introduced for Brad Smith as we gambled in attack. Afobe had a direct effort saved by Cech and the defenders were on top in the scrambles that were happening. As we looked to break down our left a passing interchange with Smith and Afobe broke down and Arsenal countered as injury time arrived and Giroud, who came on for Walcott squared the ball to an unmarked SANCHEZ to tap home his second and it was game set and match.

Conclusions;

The travelling support was loud and got behind the team all game, whilst the home fans didn`t really challenge the Head Librarian to hush them! It is a tremendous stadium, just a shame it is lacking the passion and soul at times that it must crave, maybe we are just too small fry to disturb them who knows?

We are looking a deserving PL side, and the score flattered them slightly, but until we stamp out those foolish errors we will continue to let the top sides get the better of us.

Man of The Match: Nathan Ake, who again showed some class and pace at the back.

FEDERICI 5 Probably not a good decision to roll the ball out to Cook on his weaker right foot? A weak punch, but otherwise not much he could have done with the three goals.
FRANCIS 6 Got done for pace a few times, was better going forward, early booking may have riled him?
COOK 5 Poor back pass which cost us early, and a few distribution errors too, not a game he will cherish!
AKE 7 Settled well at CB, won a few good headers and has a coolness on the ball.
SMITH (B) 5 Difficult debut looked suspect defensively, but will have easier matches.
SMITH (A) 6 Showed some flashes of pace in attack but looked out of depth at times.
ARTER 6.5 Usual ebullience and grit broke up a few Arsenal forays, and didn`t look to out of place against a good Arsenal midfield.
GOSLING 5.5 Average performance, had a shooting chance that he skewed wide, kept busy though all afternoon.
STANISLAS 5 Pretty ineffective for the most part, his attacking strengths were stunted by Arsenals midfield.
KING 6.5 A lot to like about his ability and pace to run with the ball, although at times his endgames is not good enough, but one of our brighter players.
WILSON 5.5 Won the penalty, which he finished with aplomb, but well shackled throughout the game otherwise.

Subs; AFOBE 5 Had few opportunities and when he did get one it was a weak effort straight at Cech.
MOUSSET not really enough time to judge but good to see him getting a few minutes of time at Arsenal.

 
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