Written by Neil Dawson
Jefferson Lerma will be relieved the Christmas bloopers DVDs -the perennial go-to gift for sad divorced uncles and kids under 8 – are all out of post-production for this year. He won’t suffer the dignity blow that is Robbie Savage or Danny Dyer chuckling away at his thunderous own goal that set Arsenal on their way to an undeserved victory at a chilly Dean Court.
Bournemouth came into the game on the back of two ‘played well and lost two one’ games and made it a third as nothing really ran their way. ‘Fine Margins have started going against us’ as Eddie accurately described it afterwards.
Eddie showed where his irritations lay from the Newcastle defeat. Ibe didn’t even make the bench and Lewis Cook didn’t make the team. Gosling and King returned…both going on to have massive influences on the scoresheet.
The usual Bournemouth bombardment opened the game…overloads, the wingers zipping on..cracking stuff. It should have yielded a goal but a myopic linesman incorrectly chalked a smart Brooks finish off when the winger had run on from an onside position. Brooks and Fraser were causing all sorts of problems cutting in and creating.
Arsenal took fifteen minutes to get going but Torreira signalled an intent by rapping a shot that Begovic fingertipped onto the post. Aubameyang then fired over from a corner when he should have buried it.
The main action was all down to Bournemouth though with Lerma’s crunching tackles setting the tone for a dominant display. It was against the run of play when a bizarre opener was struck. Gosling had a very simple ball to release Fraser but he couldn’t do it and instead fatally played it to Torreira who released Kolasinac down the left. His cross was hard and low but not as hard and low as Lermas volleyed attempt to clear which thundered past Begovic and on to 2019’s Christmas DVD.
Bournemouth were shocked but inched their way back into the game possession wise without creating much. Arsenal’s supposedly dodgy defence was looking rock solid. Eventually, an equaliser was fashioned and it was a thing of much beauty. Fraser breaking from his own box, dovetailing with a rampaging Wilson and releasing Brooks can centrally..his inch-perfect cushioned pass was met by the onrushing KING who celebrated his return with a thunderous left-foot curler into the top corner. Sublime.
Ht Afcb 1 Arsenal 1
Eddie made a strange (my opinion) change at halftime. He moved to a back five/three with Fraser moving to wing back. We lost our way almost instantly and sat very deep. Arsenal attacked at will and although we defended well the gap to our forwards became too big and on the few occasions we got the ball back they had too far to travel to be dangerous.
There were a few snapshots from Brooks and Fraser that didn’t trouble Lend much on the break but it always looked more likely there would be a goal at the other end…Mkhitaryan fired high when well placed and Franno started getting a roasting from Iwobi who could get at him deeper.
The goal wasn’t a surprise with Kolasinac exposing fatal hesitation and positional sense from Fraser and Franno to nip in and cross for AUBAMEYANG to slide home too easily.
Eddie switched back to 4-4-2 with the woeful Gosling being replaced by Cook and Brooks giving way to Stanislas. This got us back the possession we had enjoyed first half…the former brilliantly releasing the latter but he inexplicably crossed when a shot looked by far the better bet. Stan had a better chance later but the ball stuck under his foot six yards out when it looked like a tap-in would suffice.
Bournemouth pushed again and Lerma nearly made amends when his imperious twenty-five yard drive smacked back off the foot of the post. Arsenal were rocking a little and Stan had one great chance with a free kick right on the penalty area but he blasted it high and the whistle went.
FT Afcb 1 Arsenal 2
Begovic 7 – one great save and some smart stops and handling.
Franno 6 – ok at right back but looked exposed and unsure of position in a 3
Cook 7 – solid non-nonsense norm.
Ake 6 – a little less confident than normal…hands full with Aubameyang
Daniels 7- some great runs and interceptions.
Fraser 8 – chirpy bright and non-stop probing.
Gosling 4- gave the ball away continually and slow.
Lerma 6 – a strange mixture of dynamite tackling and errors today.
Brooks 7- bright, inventive and starting to dominate more.
Wilson 6 – worked hard and ran channels well
King 6 – too class finish but generally well contained.
(Stan 5 – wasteful Set pieces… Cook 6 prompted well…Mousset n/a)
Mom…Two widemen and Daniels pick of the bunch for me today….Fraser slightly more involved hence the badge.
An odd game. We played well but I never thought we would win. We seem to have lost a little penetration and defensive errors are creeping back making it ( and the two games before it) more reminiscent of last year than this. With Man C next up the Huddersfield home game starts to become quite important in terms of whether this is a top side slump or something more serious.
The inexplicable thing for me was the halftime change. We were on top and had momentum with the late equaliser. I can only presume the change was planned before that but surely that wouldn’t be the case? To switch to a system that his teams never play well with… a wingback system that for some reason always becomes a flat back five cost us the game. Our fullbacks attacked more when they were fullbacks than wing backs which is inexcusable…it shows the system is not one they understand.
We have to attack teams as we don’t have the greatest defence….when we sit back and allow teams on to us it’s normally fatal. One notable switch like this was when 3-0 up v Arsenal here before when they drew. It’s fine with ten minutes to go but was a disaster today.
The second error was selecting Gosling against top sides… his touch and thought need more time than the average premier league footballer and it cost again today. If he doesn’t 100% trust Lewis then we have a problem. A half-charged Cook to me is better than a fully charged Gosling. Cooks arrival seeing pinpoint through balls that were so missing before. If he was dropped on the back of the Newcastle game that is harsh when other players have played poorly for many weeks before going.
So…we were a little lacking in composure and vision in the midfield which hurt us at both ends. A shame as much good football was played and luck was not on our side with the own goal, which could have gone anywhere, the dodgy offside and Lermas post hit.
Our set pieces also need a big looking at. Fraser and particularly Stan wasting most of them.
We need to regroup and focus on Huddersfield. Lerma is rested for City with a ban and I would consider resting a forward as well for what will be a damage limitation exercise. While we have played two good sides in this mini-slump none of us truly believe they are top sides anymore. Willo was on odd form on the radio saying he was happy because we had given Arsenal and Man U a game on their terms whereas in previous years we had looked like we weren’t able to. An astonishing statement when you consider the results against those sides in recent years! This year’s successes have come because we look to have shed the ‘little Bournemouth ‘ vibe that Willo and some fans want to cling to. We need to get back to this (after City!!)