Arsenal 3 – 0 Bournemouth
Job done, and it must be said, well. Bournemouth, cast as sacrificial lambs to the slaughter, were sunk without much of a threat, even when we were reduced to ten men with Francis Coquelin’s injury. It was half-decent preparation for next weekend’s trip to Chelsea but let’s not go overboard in proclaiming we’re on the rise again. That was one good performance in a match we were expected to win.
Confidence oozed through the side as Arsenal took full advantage of the time and space on the ball Eddie Howe’s side afforded them. Arsène declared he went with “more experience at the back” and that he “changed the positions a little bit”, as if playing defenders in their favoured positions were a tactical switch which will revolutionise football.
The back three featured two specialist centre backs alongside Nacho Monreal and looked more solid. Coupled with that shocker, the wing-back pairing of Hector Bellerin on the right and Sead Kolasinac on the left showed a vast improvement on the opening three games of the season.
The young Spaniard said afterwards that he felt the criticism after the Liverpool defeat was “fully deserved”. Yesterday was a positive reaction from the team as a whole but playing on the right once more must have rebuilt individual confidence in Bellerin. After the criticism at the end of last season and watch Oxlade-Chamberlain steal his place, little wonder Barcelona seemed so inviting in the summer.
After Manchester City put five past Liverpool, Ox is turning into a Jonah for his clubs; 7 goals against and none scored in his last two appearances? The schädenfreude of the football supporter.
Some Things You Can Explain Away
Kolasinac’s cross led to a well-taken goal by Danny Welbeck to break the deadlock. The England international contorted his body to chest the ball across Begovic and into the net. OK, it came off his shoulder which makes it more of a centre forward’s goal. Finding consistency in his finishing is the issue; if he can do that, it’s £16m well spent.
Alexandre Lacazette’s omission at Anfield was an act of folly on the manager’s part and Wenger came close to admitting that. The strikers goal underlined why his presence will be important; the willingness to shoot from distance isn’t something teams are used to with us and brings a variety to the ‘pass-pass-pass’ opponents are used to. In big away games, that’s going to be a useful attribute.
Welbeck added a third, a well-taken goal and almost his third when his chip drifted wide of the post, before he departed with fifteen minutes to go. Lacazette went at the same time bringing Giroud and Alexis into the fray. The latter’s omission raised eyebrows beforehand but was a gamble which worked for Wenger.
Sanchez came on to a smattering of boos which, while not baffling, is just stupid. That will motivate a player to perform well, won’t it? He looked sharper than Anfield and by all accounts, for Chile. Next weekend’s trip to Chelsea gives Arsène a selection headache: Welbeck or Sanchez. Not a difficult one in season’s gone by and the midweek fixture against Köln will give us an answer on that.
You Must Explain Why This Must Be
We finished the game with ten men thanks to Francis Coquelin’s hamstring injury. It rules him out for a few weeks and of cup games he would certainly have featured in. Social media was awash with jokes about it and this was my favourite:
— Arsenal Related ⚽🔥 (@ArsenalsRelated) September 9, 2017
There can be few complaints about the match. Not all of the problems are solved with central midfield remaining an issue. Ramsey and Xhaka weren’t punished for their indiscretions but Chelsea won’t be so lax. It’s the only real area of concern left with some of space left yesterday setting alarm bells ringing.
The pair played well on the whole but still lack discipline in their movement. That it is still an issue underlines it’s a problem we won’t solve quickly. However, we’ve got to and Coquelin’s injury rules out one solution; Ramsey and Xhaka will have to find the answers themselves.
On this overcast Sunday, yesterday’s win brightens the gloomy weather. While the victory comes with a number of caveats, I’m going to enjoy the rest of the day. The Specials Jukebox Classics is the perfect backdrop to that.