Aubameyang with golden touch as Arsenal stretch unbeaten run to 17 games


Arsenal continued their unbeaten streak and succumbed Bournemouth to a third straight Premier League defeat as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s winner ended his goal drought as Arsenal ran out 2- 1 winners on a cold, blustery Sunday afternoon on the south coast.

The home side welcomed the return of Josh King alongside newly capped England striker Callum Wilson upfront, while Lewis Cook was replaced by Dan Gosling in the middle of the park. Bournemouth fans also saw left back Charlie Daniels back in the team after a spell on the sidelines through injury.

Mesut Ozil was surprisingly left on the bench with Unai Emery opting for a back five against Eddie Howe’s side, a formation which has only been implemented by The Gunners once under Emery, an away tie against Qarabag in the Europea League. Sokratis Papastathopoulos came into the centre of defence alongside Rob Holding and Shkodran Mustafi to make up that defensive trio.

The game began with some high paced attacking football from both sides, it being clear early on that both managers saw this as a game in which they could get some joy.

Bournemouth sought to expose the space behind the full-backs in Arsenals defence whilst the roaming Alex Iwobi was causing issues for Jefferson Lerma in midfield.

Only seven minutes in and Bournemouth had the ball in the back of the net after some untidy work from David Brooks and King on the edge of the area saw Brooks slide the ball in, only for the linesman to flag for offside.

Arsenal grew into the game as the first half an hour wore on. Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan worked their magic in midfield, finding pockets of spaces and unleashing flying full-backs Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac.

Mustafi was lucky to escape a booking after flying in late on Ryan Fraser, the first booking did go to Sokratis after he pulled down Josh King on the edge of the area, but Bournemouth wasted one of many set piece opportunities in the first half. Arsenal created a couple of half chances as Iwobi fired a weak shot at Asmir Begovic and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired over from close range.

Arsenal’s breakthrough came on half an hour mark as Kolasinac broke through the backline to cross and Lerma swung out a right boot to emphatically beat Begovic at the near post.

Arsenal continued to control the game and kept the ball in the Bournemouth area until the 45th minute when the hosts deservedly equalised.

A blistering counter attack involved all of The Cherries’ attacking outlets as Fraser broke into the Arsenal half, playing in Wilson who spread the ball to Brooks. The Welshman then played a ball behind holding for Josh King to caress the ball into the far corner beyond Bernd Leno to level on the stroke of half-time.

Arsenal applied all the pressure for the first 15 minutes of the second half as Bournemouth defended for large periods of time as their forward lines failed to hold the ball up for any length of time. Uruguay midfielder Lucas Torreira was finding joy in the middle of the park, expressing himself more than most are accustomed to.

The Gunners had a guilt edged opportunity to retake the lead after Lerma was caught sleeping on the ball but Aubameyang was not clinical in his finish.

Lerma then prevented an attack after pulling down Mustafi by the neck, earning himself a booking which will see him miss next week’s game against Manchester City.

Aubameyang scored as a result of that free kick after Iwobi played a delightful ball behind the Bournemouth defence for Kolasinac to sweep across goal and the Gabon international tapped into the net.

The floodgates threatened to open as Aubameyang broke down the pitch and played in Mkhitaryan who could not finish after being forced wide, closing the angle for a shot.

Junior Stanislas and Lewis Cook entered the fray with 20 minutes to go, replacing Brooks and Gosling.  Arsenal enjoyed spells of easy possessions Bournemouth failed to string any significant number of passes together.

Unai Emery would soon turn to his bench and make his first changes of the game. Torreira departed after an impressive and combative performance in the middle. He was replaced by Frenchman Matteo Guendouzi. Iwobi also left the field and Aaron Ramsey was brought on to help consolidate Arsenal’s advantage.

The changes continued to be made as returning goal scorer Kings game was over, his place  being taken by Lys Mousset. The hosts came close to a stunning equaliser as Lerma struck the post with a long range strike that had Leno well beaten in the Gunners goal.

Arsenal slowed the game down at every opportunity, substitutions, free kicks and throw ins broke up the final few minutes before the final whistle. The Gunners held on after Mustafi gave away a reckless foul on the edge of the box but Stanislas failed to capitalise with the last kick of the game.

Emery will be happy with a solid win, that could have been much more comfortable, as Arsenal stretch their unbeaten streak to 17 games.



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