Arsenal pulled off a miraculous comeback to share the spoils with Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Tuesday.
It was all Bournemouth since the start of the game as Eddie Howe’s men made the most of their home advantage and took the attack to the Gunners. For most parts, they were the better side and may feel undeserved to settle for a draw.
Defender Charlie Daniels opened the scoring for Bournemouth in the 16th minute before Callum Wilson doubled his team’s advantage a few minutes later. Ryan Fraser added to Arsenal’s misery with a well-timed strike in the 58th minute.
However, this did not put Arsenal off as they kept pushing for a way back and managed to score three goals to end up sharing the spoils. Alexis Sanchez, Lucas Perez and Olivier Giroud were among the goal scorers for Wenger’s side.
Take a look at the talking points from a riveting encounter:
Olivier Giroud continues his magic for the Gunners
After being made a scapegoat for Arsenal’s undoings in the past few seasons, Olivier Giroud has revolutionised himself mid-way through the 2016-17 campaign to become one of Arsene Wenger’s utility players.
Due to his shambolic showings at the start, coupled with injury concerns, Wenger chose to leave out Giroud and instead let Chilean winger Alexis Sanchez take up stations in the number nine position. That decision benefited both the team as well as the player, and Arsenal looked unstoppable, going on a fourteen game unbeaten run.
However, all the credit cannot be given to Sanchez as Giroud has chipped in with priceless contributions, to keep Arsenal alive. His last-gasp equaliser against Manchester United kick-started his terrific run of form.
Once again, against Bournemouth, the French striker put the ball into the back of the net, and much like the United game, it was an equaliser in the dying stages. He has gone on from being hated, to now being serenaded by the Arsenal faithful who will be hoping that his performances do not take a meteoric hit as they did last season.
Despite Mustafi’s return, Arsenal still looked threadbare defensively
The Gunners kept back-to-back clean sheets against West Brom and Crystal Palace, and it looked like Wenger had sorted out his defensive worries. However, his hopes came crashing down to the earth as he helplessly watched his side concede three at the Vitality Stadium.
This game against the Cherries saw Shkodran Mustafi restored to the lineup and start at centre-back with Laurent Koscielny. The duo have looked prolific together, but were shown their place by a boisterous Bournemouth attack.
Francis Coquelin in midfield, also had a horrid time in dealing with the attacking threat of the opposition, and all in all, the Arsenal defensive was in shambles for two-thirds of the game. Wenger will undoubtedly be looking to iron out his defensive, and probably sign a couple of defenders in the January transfer window to add quality to the depth in the ranks at the Emirates Stadium.
Eddie Howe may have passed his audition for the Arsenal job
Arsene Wenger has been linked with an exit for quite some while and Cherries boss Eddie Howe is touted as the man to replace the Frenchman at the helm. The Englishman has done a fascinating job with Bournemouth, and could take Arsenal to new heights should he be given the chance.
Facing a quality side in Arsenal, many expected Howe to set his team up defensively. But to the contrary, Bournemouth started the game on the front foot. They took the Arsenal players by surprise from the offing and proved to be no match for them.
The Cherries looked in shape without the ball and did everything they could to win back possession and hit the visitors on the counter-attack. They now find themselves in an impressive ninth spot on the table, and a lot of credit must be given to the manager.
Hector Bellerin has an evening to forget
Bellerin has become one of Arsenal’s most efficient players, but the game against Bournemouth showcased some weaknesses in his game. The Spanish full-back was guilty of letting in two of his side’s three goals and ended up costing his side the victory.
The 21-year-old was caught napping when Junior Stanislas found a marauding Charlie Daniels surging down Bournemouth’s left flank. Bellerin should have ideally been marking the Cherries left-back, but was instead caught ball watching in a central position and failed to track back in time to prevent the Englishman from scoring.
For Bournemouth’s third, Bellerin was easily shrugged off by attacker Ryan Fraser who calmly slotted the ball home to triple the advantage for the hosts. It was one of the 21-year-old’s worst performances in an Arsenal jersey.
Complacency got the better of Cherries who squandered a three-goal cushion
Bournemouth looked to be sailing at 3-0 and an ecstatic bunch at the Vitality Stadium were shouting their hearts out, guiding their side past the finish line. However, the Cherries’ inexperience at killing out matches was palpable as they succumbed to the constant pressure by the Arsenal front men.
After failing to defend in numbers, Bournemouth conceded two goals before captain Simon Francis was sent off for a challenge on Aaron Ramsey. The numbers advantage then seemed to play its part as Giroud played his role to score a dramatic equaliser to steal a point late on in the game.