Arsenal defeated AFC Bournemouth on Sunday to keep their fine undefeated run going, thanks to a brace from Alexis Sanchez
Arsenal went into the home game against AFC Bournemouth on the back of two unconvincing draws with less than satisfying performances in both the games. Bournemouth took the game to Arsenal from the get-go and went into the half-time level at 1-1, with a converted penalty from Callum Wilson restoring equality after Alexis Sanchez gave Arsenal the lead.
The second half also saw Eddie Howe’s side go toe-to-toe with the Gunners, but Theo Walcott restored Arsenal’s lead with his second headed goal of the season. Bournemouth pushed for an equalizer and were caught on the break late on in the game, as Alexis Sanchez nabbed his second goal of the game to secure the three points for Arsenal.
The Hard Tackle takes a look at some of the significant talking points from the game.
1. Amazing Alexis and an Arsene masterstroke
One of the most significant things to come out of the early part of Arsenal’s season has been Alexis Sanchez’s form at his newfound role as a centre-forward. A change, that has been welcomed by Alexis, who likes to be the focal point of the attack, and the results have been nothing short of extraordinary.
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) November 27, 2016
Alexis has already touched double figures for the current season in all competitions and has 4 goals in the last 5 games in the Premier League, including the brace against Bournemouth on Sunday.
He seems to be relishing the prospect of leading the line and his presence in the centre-forward role has provided acceleration and pace to the attack, which was lacking in Giroud and Lucas Perez.
Arsene Wenger seems to be an expert in converting goal-minded wingers into out-and-out forwards, first with Thierry Henry, then Robin Van Persie and now Alexis Sanchez.
The Gunners look like genuine title contenders and if they manage to get their hands on the elusive trophy, Wenger’s decision to deploy the Chilean at the front is likely to be hailed as the event that pushed them towards the title.
2. Finally conquering the cursed November
A topic that has been talked about for a long time and been associated with Arsenal’s inability to win the Premier League is their performances in November. The Gunners have had a dreadful record in November in most of their seasons, something that they seem to have miraculously avoided this season.
Arsenal have gone unbeaten in the PL in the month of November for 1st time since 2011 & only 2nd time in last 9 seasons pic.twitter.com/utWA8hqVHJ
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) November 27, 2016
The Gunners are undefeated in all competitions in November and seem to be finally getting over the curse of November. A month that included fixtures like the derby against Tottenham, Manchester United at Old Trafford and Paris Saint-Germain, has seen the Gunners come out of all of them unscathed, despite a dip in their usual form.
It would be too early to call but Arsenal’s conquest of November could be the final hint that the Gunners are finally ready to get their hands on the Premier League trophy.
3. Defensive shortcomings coming to the fore
Arsenal are scoring freely and had a run of strong defensive performances too. But, as of late, the Gunners have been unable to show the same defensive solidity.
Wenger’s side are now without a clean sheet in the last six games in all competitions and while, for now, Gunners’ attack is more than compensating for their shortcomings on the defensive side, Wenger needs to sort the defence out if they are to be successful in this season’s title challenge.
Juventus: Have conceded 3+ goals in a Serie A match for the first time since October 2013 (vs Fiorentina) #GenoaJuve
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) November 27, 2016
Although, 5 of those 6 games have come in November and may be chalked down to the curse of the month, but, if it continues beyond November, this might become a genuine concern to be taken care of by the club.
4. Scoreline fails to justify the evenness of the match
Arsenal ended up prevailing over Bournemouth by a scoreline of 3-1, which does suggests a comfortable win for the Gunners. The match, though, was anything but. The match almost felt like a cup tie. The on-lookers were treated to some entertaining football with end-to-end stuff.
Bournemouth impressed with their passing and their playing style. While their only goal of the game came through a rather debatable penalty decision, the play deserved the goal and Eddie Howe would, perhaps, be disappointed to come away with a loss after running Arsenal to their limits.
However, if the club is able to continue to put in similar kind of efforts in the coming matches, Howe and the Bournemouth fans can rest assured that their team will end up comfortably towards the top end of the table or thereabouts.
5. Debuchy injury a blessing in disguise?
Mathieu Debuchy started an Arsenal game after a long time out on the sidelines. The Frenchman looked to performing well, but an unfortunate injury meant the player had to be withdrawn after just 16 minutes. The injury seems to be a hamstring injury and feels like it could mean some more time out on the sidelines for the Frenchman.
0’: Mathieu Debuchy starts his first Premier League game for Arsenal since 2015.
15’: Mathieu Debuchy taken off injured. pic.twitter.com/z0d7yfcaEJ
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) November 27, 2016
And while one definitely feels some remorse for Debuchy, the injury could force Wenger into handing Carl Jenkinson some game time, which would give the player a chance to impress the manager. Who knows, the player might just be able to make his way back into Wenger’s definite first-team setup.