Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s second-half goal handed all three points to Arsenal to move them within a point of fourth-placed Chelsea after a 2-1 win over Bournemouth.
Arsenal had to work hard to secure a much-needed win over Bournemouth after an action-packed game saw both sides conjure up enough chances to take the game away. The Gunners were on a run of three successive draws in the league, and Unai Emery had outlined before the need to win this game to keep things tight in the race for a top four finish.
With this win, Arsenal kept their unbeaten run intact, which has now stretched to 17 games. The Gunners came into the game with a host of changes to playing personnel and formation. Emery preferred a back-three, with Mesut Ozil on the bench, while Alexandre Lacazette was ruled out with a minor groin injury, meaning Aubameyang started as the side’s central striker.
Arsenal were highly fortunate in the first half when Jefferson Lema volleyed the ball into his own net from a Sead Kolasinac cross to give the away side the lead. But, Bournemouth bounced back at the stroke of half-time courtesy the returning Joshua King.
The North Londoners took control of the proceedings at the start of the second half, with Sead Kolasinac providing the artillery for Aubameyang to fire in the winner from close range and into the net. The win took the Gunners to within a point of Chelsea, and The Hard Tackle runs the rule over Unai Emery’s men.
Bernd Leno: 7/10
Reliable as one would expect. Leno made some crucial saves and kept Arsenal in the tie. Couldn’t have done much to deny King. However, for most parts of the game, he saved those shots which were expected of him to be kept while commanding his area well throughout. Another good performance from the German custodian.
Shkodran Mustafi: 6.5/10
A strong performance from the German defender. Mustafi was active and aggressive for most parts of the game, and a role on the wide right side of defence seems to have played a good part in the overall improvement he showed during the game.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos: 7/10
Sokratis was Arsenal’s best defender on the day. Barring few minor issues in his game, he had a near perfect defensive outing, making use of his strength in the right way, while his positioning was astute. It is quite surprising he was out of the Premier League starting lineup for so long now.
Rob Holding: 6.5/10
Holding looked like Arsenal’s weakest defender in that back-three, although the side’s overall defensive display led to covering some of his flaws. The Englishman had a decent game, if not a spectacular one, and gave no reason to be kept out of the side for the next game.
Hector Bellerin: 6/10
With a change in the formation, Bellerin got more freedom to attack as a wing-back. Both of Arsenal’s wing-backs enjoyed their time on the pitch due to the same. But, the Spaniard was overshadowed by Sead Kolasinac, while the fact that he had much less support on his side also reduced his output.
Lucas Torreira: 7.5/10
A typical performance from the Uruguayan midfielder in the middle of the park. Torreira won the ball several times while also contributing heavily going forward. Hit the post with a thumping effort and was taken off near the end with probably what looked like a knock.
Granit Xhaka: 7/10
Complimented Torreira with some good passing and positioning for most parts of the game. During this time, he was also good while defending, making sure that Arsenal were tight in that deep midfield areas. However, as the match wore on, Xhaka became erratic on the ball, although otherwise, he was good on the evening.
Sead Kolasinac: 7.5/10
Kolasinac could have got a much higher rating if not for his defensive frailties. In attack, however, he was a colossal, as he was the key man in both the goals that Arsenal scored. If assists were given for own goals, then he’d have two for the night.
However, Kolasinac was credited for the winner, wherein he laid the perfect ball for an easy tap-in, which Aubameyang did finish flawlessly.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 3/10
The worst player on the pitch when compared to the other 21 players who were playing. Surprisingly had seven shots, of which only one was on target. Lost the ball several times and his positioning was suspect. Was more of a liability on the pitch for Arsenal and the fact that he stayed on for 90 minutes was quite surprising.
Alex Iwobi: 6/10
Arsenal need more from players like Iwobi, especially when the likes of Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette were absent from the pitch. He did have his moments during the game and overall was error free.
Provided that crucial, defence-splitting pass for Kolasinac to square up Aubameyang for the winner, but otherwise, Iwobi needs to impose himself more in games like these.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 6.5/10
Missed a few chances that could have given Arsenal an unassailable lead against Bournemouth. Was not as commanding a presence upfront like Lacazette. In the end though, Aubameyang got the winner and would be content with his contribution on the pitch. Could have been top scorer in the league but is now joint-top with Sergio Aguero.
Matteo Guendouzi: 6/10
A surprise replacement for Torreira when the game needed someone like the Uruguayan on the field. Guendouzi did not let the performance levels drop though, and his undying engine is something more valuable to Arsenal, helping his side see the game out.
Aaron Ramsey: 6/10
Came on, had some ideas which he tried hard to impose. Could have started in place of the underperforming Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but his contract situation is clearly playing a role in his reduced capacity in the side.
Eddie Nketiah: N/A
No rating for he did not even touch the ball, as his substitution was just to kill more time in the end.