Bournemouth Review: What Do Points Make?

Bournemouth 1 – 2 Arsenal

Arsenal returned to winning ways at Bournemouth, ending a run of three consecutive draws which so vexed Unai Emery in the build-up to the match. The obligatory slow start to the game gave way to some good attacking display and the usual disturbing capacity for self-destruction. Defensively we were poor, saved on more than one occasion by an excellent performance from Bernd Leno.

That’s no more than a footnote in the history books which record 17 matches undefeated and counting. Overall, we were good for the victory which contained a hearty mix of missed chances and harum-scarum moments.

Bournemouth started the quicker of the two teams and had the ball in the net on eight minutes. David Brookes was ruled offside in the moment, offside by the immediate match replays but morphed into an onside position thanks to a prostrated Mustafi’s head by the evening. When the accuracy of the decision is decided by the thickness of the line used in the replay, it’s bound to be contentious.

It sparked us into life. Slowly, we asserted ourselves on the game as the gaps behind the home side’s full-backs were exploited. Inexorably, Arsenal turned the screw on Bournemouth; Torreira’s long-range effort bounced off the post, a fate which also befell Lerma in the second half while Aubameyang rifled over from close range before the opener arrived.

And what a goal it was as well. When you think of great own goals, add Jefferson Lerma’s effort to that list. A sweet volley from inside his own area which left Begovic with no chance. It followed good work from Kolasinac down the left.

That’s not a phrase to describe his defensive work. In attack? The Bosnia performed well; is that why Emery opted for a 3 – 4 – 3 formation?

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad

I suspect there were a multitude of reasons, to be honest. I know there were and one of them is a six-foot tall German centre-back.

Being Arsenal, we conceded before half-time; leading at the interval is just  so passe. It’s no surprise that the goal came from a counter-attack; Bournemouth broke at pace and while the right-side and centre of the team flooded back, Noah parked his ark in the gap on the left.

The lackadaisical tracking back was so bad that when the final pass went to King for the equaliser, Hector Bellerin almost intercepted having run from the right-side of the pitch. Kolasinac? He was browsing in a different aisle having decided defending is so louche.

His third assist for the afternoon came for the winner. Excellent interplay on the left freed Kolasinac in the area and his pass was inch perfect for a poacher’s finish from Aubameyang. Had the Bosnian shown that turn of pace to get back to defend, he might have been in contention for Man of the Match.

That deservedly went to Torreira, who Emery substituted so that we don’t knacker out the 2018-19 Player of the Season before Christmas. He was surely pushed hard by Leno, whose handling was exemplary. I genuinely cannot recall a mistake he made for crosses or any of the key saves which were fumbled. All were cleanly handled as he asserted himself as the club’s Number One.

As Bournemouth ratcheted up the pressure while looking for an equaliser. Sokratis drew a good save from his goalkeeper while the last seconds saw Mustafi on his arse, having crunched into an opponent’s leg a foot outside the penalty area. The ‘”Sorry guys, it was just a crazy moment” look on his face and hoisted hand apology’ is really wearing thin.

A Watching Brief

That the referee blew the instant that free-kick landed in the crowd highlights the dubious nature of the timing of the final whistle. Craig Pawson is, I suggest, guilty of letting an attack unfold rather than keeping to regulation time.

I wondered briefly if his Clive Thomas moment had arrived. A timely peep from his whistle as the ball was struck, rendering the trajectory irrelevant. Nothing so prosaic; it was just a craven attempt to allow Bournemouth the opportunity to score while avoiding upsetting the home fans.

Which brings us to a point where the elephant in the room can no longer be ignored: Mesut Özil’s absence. It was, Unai Emery said, too physical a match for the German. As you scratched your head wondered where Bournemouth acquired this ‘Crazy Gang’ reputation, it dawned that Emery was calling Özil lazy.

Or more diplomatically, not energetic enough for the pressing game the formation required. The German didn’t warm up at all in the second half, suggesting he knew he wasn’t coming on. Was there a sulk here or ruptured relationships there; for the good of the team, it was the reality.

Would he have made a difference? Well, instead of Mkhitaryan or Iwobi, yes. He’d have been hard pushed not to. Iwobi was the better of the two which considering Mkhi auditioned for the Invisible Man reboot…

The XI which travels to the Ukraine, if it goes ahead, will be interesting. Spurs followed by Manchester United are the priority fixtures; two big matches in which the 17-game unbeaten run will be sorely tested. Unai will be hoping for some good news on the injury front this week, that’s for sure.

’til Tomorrow.

36 thoughts on “Bournemouth Review: What Do Points Make?

  1. Fair summary YW. A good result and progress from the same fixture last season.

    Good: Leno MOM for me. The keeper and Torreira have been revelations since coming into the side. Bellerin is improving game by game.

    Bad: The back 3 looked like they hadn’t practised the formation before the game. Kolasinac was an attacking threat, but left Holding exposed for the whole game.

    Ugly: MickyTar. How did he not get hooked?

  2. The great Ozil mystery continues.

    Will he play against Spurs? How can he not start ahead of MickyTar? Is he on his way to China?

  3. It will interesting to see how well Koscielny has recovereed and if he gets back to his old form. If he does, who makes way for him. I do hope it is the sliding disaster that is Mustafi. Holding has improved enough to cement his place in my opinion
    There were too many of the old errors in this match that really need to be addressed
    For heavens sake get Mkhitaryan and Iwobi to concentrate on some shooting practice. Not just in this match, but other recent ones, if they had got their shots on target we would be 3rd in the table right now. Such a waste of super approach play. What a shame that Reiss Nelson has been allowed out on loan; he has been dynamite for Offenheim & England
    Xhaka continues to give the ball away in dangerous positions
    Again we were caught out on the break with nearly everyone in the Bournemouth area with one minute to half-time; so basic !
    Defensively so open on our left – get well soon Monreal
    In the last years of the Wenger reign, we could all see such obvious flaws that needed to be put right that were just ignored. We are in that situation again, but I am hoping that Emery is more perceptive to our problems. A couple more better players and we will be contenders

  4. Not a great performance but three points is three points. We’ve played better and lost. There’s a lot of similarities with the start of gorgeous George’s tenure, a side that looked lost and less than the sum of its parts, some big time charlies not justifying their wages (sadly Pete the Chinese wont be taking Ozil or Mhki off our hands any time soon), and a new guy who recognises the value of planning and discipline. George had a few false starts, good runs but ultimately fell short. But we got there in the end and I think that we’ll reach the top of the tree again with Emery if he’s given time to turn things around.

  5. Top stuff Yogi.

    Torriera and Leno for joint Player of the Season! Torriera was brilliant and in that he has also brought out the best in Xhaka. Leno is the undisputed #1 full stop; thanks Cech for everything you have given us but your time has passed.

    I want to give a shoutout to Bellerin who has looked more like the Bellerin that was thought of as one of the best RB’s in the PL. He is attacking and constantly providing good quality balls and defensively he has clearly turned the corner. Sead is quality going forward and I hope that with a good run of matches he shows more consistent defending.

  6. Ozil didn’t play and only Emery knows why. Personally, if Ozil wasn’t up to it physically then surely he wouldn’t have been up to it physically against Liverpool or Chelsea, or Leicester. I would imagine rhat Emery wanted to play a 343 to try to negate Bournemouth’s free flowing and wanted to defend and be more solid.

    Lets wait until after the NLD and Manure before we say that Ozil is on his way out and what not that people are talking about.

  7. I can see why we’re linked with the likes of Pablo Fornals etc. Having a high energy midfielder next to Torriera who can also tackle, run with ball and pass would open up a lot…

    I think not using Ozil was maybe clever as these types of teams mark him and take him out the game. Which works as we use him as sole creative outlet… I personally though it made sense. But mkhitaryan was terrible

  8. Can we also just point out the fact that Aubameyang is now joint top PL goal scorer. Its clear why he fits perfectly with Lacazette, Iwobi and Ozil because he is a poacher but also he compliments them with his movement and being an out and out flyer whether on the flanks or drifting into the channels.

    It is a legitimate possibility that both Lacazette and Aubameyanf could finish with or close to 20 goals a piece.

    Just think how massive those 3 points lost against Chelsea were and that was due to our finishing when we should have had 5 or 6.

  9. More worrying to me, is how easy the Spuds swept aside a Chelsea side that opened up our defense for fun using the same system. It does not bode well for the NLD. Just saying right now I’ll take a draw and for our little run to continue. Defeat may send us into a free fall! Mikhi bless him wasn’t in his preferred position. He’s not as bad as that showing. Xhaka, still unconvincing and Mustafi still leaves me quaking in my boots every time he touches the ball. However plenty of positives, Bellerin, Torriera, Auba and Kolas’s attack play (defensively he is still wanting). Still waiting to see a defensive formation from Unai when the opposition warrants it, that has 2 holding midfielder’s of Torriera and AMN or Torriera and Guendouzi, with Ozil/Ramsey/Mikhi in the traditional no. 10 role. Great post Yogi and excellent analysis/assessment.

  10. Nice stuff, Yogi! A few points for further discussion:
    I think in addition to Kolasinac not getting back, we really have to note that Mkh decided to slow down after crossing the half line while Bellerin jogged for a while from his central position at the top of the box before finally recognizing that danger and running too late to do any good. Kola didn’t even try—I don’t think he even knows he is a defender.

    I think Iwobi was far less involved in our play than I hoped but when he was he has a positive impact in the build up to both goals on the left side. HMkh by contrast was involved constantly and was remarkably ineffective. Why has he been so poor and why does he seem so shorn of confidence. A player in form of his caliber has the confidence to shoot first time with his left on a lovely through ball from Aubameyang. That was a woeful moment—he was clearly terribly frustrated with himself for messing up such an inviting chance.

    Finally, on Ozil—hopefully this motivates him to have a Leicester like performance vs Spurs. That would be the hope. We’ll see. But I think it was the first odd statement from Emery. Usually he managed to be vague and essentially unintelligible, a very useful deployment of his weak English in press conference/interview circumstances. This statement about the demanding nature of the match let a little too much truth through… what is more demanding and physical? Bournemouth away to the NLD?!

  11. It was surprising how poor we were defensively with 3 CB’s and Torreira in front of them. But when your wingbacks don’t bother to get back quickly (and that included Bellerin on occasion but almost always Kolasinac)…

    It is a conundrum.

  12. Or Big Time Charlie – I like it.

    I heard from people around the Club at the time that Charlie Nicholas hardly trained under Terry Neill. He used to take the pi$$ regularly, but Terry couldn’t do anything about it. George knew he had to get rid as soon as possible.

    We definitely have some players that fall into that category now.

    andy1886:

    There’s a lot of similarities with the start of gorgeous George’s tenure, a side that looked lost and less than the sum of its parts, some big time charlies not justifying their wages.

  13. For their goal we had the break covered and numbers in place. OK the fullbacks were up the pitch, but Holding got sucked inside and left King on his own and Sok moved right with Mustafi leaving the guy in the middle.

    It looked like the centre backs didn’t know what to do in a 3.

    LSG:
    It was surprising how poor we were defensively with 3 CB’s and Torreira in front of them.But when your wingbacks don’t bother to get back quickly (and that included Bellerin on occasion but almost always Kolasinac)…

    It is a conundrum.

  14. Hey all, good thoughts here on the match. Think we should have tried to kill the game off till halftime instead of commiting 6 or 7 guys to attack with 60 seconds left on the clock…

    If your ‘best’ player cant play after a 2 week break, against Bournemouth, get the f*** out of here mate come on. After he made a couple passes and a great goal against an already beaten Leicester side everyone was amazed at his skill. It just boggles my mind honestly as an athlete and competitor haha that he wasnt playing. All that talent going to waste with Ozil, if only he worked a wee bit harder (and dont tell me any stats about how he runs 0.2km further then someone else in a match).

    Would little Santi back down from a challenge like this? You bet Santi would want to get in there with the big bad boys and show them that class/touch/control can beat physicality on the pitch. Strange honestly if you ask me.

    Final note, the chuckle brother almost struck again and agree the little ‘ahh sorry guys that was crazy!’ look with flappy hand wave apology needs to stop. Please god do not bring Kos back either, we dont need to re-unite the chuckle brothers proper. Although i have to say, if we come up against Birmingham City at some point it would be a good laugh to stick Kos/Mustafi out there and see what kind of anarchy arises.

  15. C,

    I wasn’t commenting on Ozil, C, just suggesting that all the criticism that has been made of him applies just as much to Mikhi.

    Having said that, I do admire some of his play but he is lightweight. The number of games that he misses alone tells us this. It is not sustainable for your ‘best’ player who is on a massive salary can miss as many games as ge does.

    Why isn’t he picked when fit? Why is he unfit so often?

  16. consolsbob,

    Thats makes sense, and your right about that but then again, he isn’t Ozil so he could never suffer the same fate.

    Don’t mind the discussion of him being at times lightweight but it is what it is. Unfit, fit, or tactics will be something to watch under Emery. Unlike under Arsene, I do think that Ozil could potentially not start matches simply from a tactical standpoint which is fine by me even on his wages if its what’s best for the team.

    Think the argument could be made if he had not played the whole 90 against Liverpool in by far the most intense match that we have played this season.

  17. consolsbob,

    “Why isn’t he picked when fit?” That is the biggest question for me. Maybe like C says it was purely tactical. However he is one of our best players and top players should be biting their teeth to get out there and compete again. The work rate of Ozil maybe just isnt there. To be honest though top players will always want to play thru injury. An 80% Torreria would still be hungry and trying to affect the game . 80% Ozil sits at home playing FIFA on his virtual reality 10 foot screen , probably in a room full of giant fish tanks and indoor swimming pools.

    It’s a shame too because we have finally started throwing in good tackles and the work rate is there from our squad. It starts with Torreira in the middle but also Lacazette up front leading the charge. When a team is really ‘gelling’ this type of work rate and hustle is infectious. Everyone on the team feeds off it, they start wanting to play up to standards of the best players. They WANT to play defense and shut teams out because shutting out your opponent often means you dominated and will win the game.

    I think Unai sees this and believes in it. Maybe that is why Ozil isnt not out there? We want a full team that plays together no a couple individuals who come in/out for highlight moments against beaten down teams.

  18. C,

    C i understand the tactical perspective for leaving out Ozil, but do you think Mhiki is nearly a “like for like” with Mesut? I know they are not exactly the same but they are relatively lightweight CAM types who want the ball, enjoy passing, score some goals, and are not necessarily known for tracking back.

    Would you say that 100% fit Mhiki fits this 3 at the back formation more then 100% Ozil? Ozil spent his glory days playing on the right wing at Real Madrid. Sure he doesnt have the same youth and legs but let Hector run the sprints and get to the touchline. Mhiki & Iwobi were standing in the pockets of space behind Auba playing passes & dribbling while letting our wing backs get in behind to the touchline. Sounds exactly like the kind of game Ozil wants to play in if you ask me.

  19. Thrillbo,

    I would think they are close with Mhkitaryan wanting to carry the ball while Ozil is Ozil.

    Tactically, I do think Mhkitaryan is more of a winger than Ozil which makes him more a fit in a 343 amd tjat is how they started. Then when Iwobi and Mhkitaryan were playing in the pockets, it did make more sense to play Ozil because both of them struggled. I do think that it was a tactical decision and having two players like Iwobi and Mhkitaryan who carry the ball and are a bit more physical is fine and as the match wore on it made sense for Ozil to come on but we were already on top so there was no point bringing Ozil.

  20. For whichever reason has suited the occasion, Ozil has sat out a lot of away games. And our form …well results at least ,has been better.
    I hope it’s tactics. He seems to have upped his effort this season, and has been less invisible in defensive situations.
    NLD will tell us plenty. Unless he gets another cold.

  21. Kudos to Leno and to Holding, they get better every game and, in the case of the latter, definitely benefitting from Emery’s coaching. One area that could use increased coaching is shooting – surely the point of the whole exercise. Mkitaryan’s effort near the end was beyond terrible. First, he took one touch too many, then shot it hurriedly off his right foot. Aubameyang, for all his goals scored, has missed a number of good chances this season (another yesterday.) Not saying every effort should go in but more of them should at least be on target. I recall that the young David Beckham practiced and practiced his curling shots on goal for countless hours. Later, it looked easy and effortless but it all came through practice. Wonder if they do this at Colney.

  22. Thrillbo,

    I also think tactically it makes sense because Aubameyang was playing and because the defenders would naturally drop off to account for his pace, having Iwobi amd Mhkitaryan to carry the ball instead of their first instinct to pass. Not saying Ozil can’t because we all know his class no matter the style, I think Emery preferred them instead of Ozil which happens.

  23. Musings:
    Between Ozil, Mkhitaryan and Ramsey, Emery hasn’t got one that can be counted on to excel in CAM.
    The first two are often/usually listless while Ramsey, though supplying energy, does so with little effect. That leaves Iwobi who, while energetic and creative, doesn’t score goals. Could Ozil be going to China? Big money off the books and a chunk of change to fund a replacement if he does. If not China, perhaps Turkey, his spiritual homeland? Or maybe Ivan (his fairy godfather) will take him to Milan. Ramsey appears to have played himself out of the club but, Mkhitaryan? Is there any effect on Aubameyang if his buddy leaves?

  24. I keep wondering when the defence will stop their slow-motion passing back and forth while the opposition plugs all spaces. Move the ball forward with some pace, draw opponents and create spaces. Not difficult. Against Bournemouth, this was countered by the Cherries pressing and resulted in Leno frequently booting the ball downfield. Does he play rugby, because he was frequently able to find touch.
    Emery can’t have been pleased to watch this but, so far, has been unable to break them of the habit.

  25. Lets focus on the positives though, Leno has been superb and IMHO established himself as our clear #1.

    Aubameyang is joint top of the PL goal scoring table.

  26. I just needed my futbol fix yesterday so I watched the The Barcodes vs the dire Burnley…..if you haven’t seen it, Matt Ritchie has the worst miss in the entire history of futbol. Literally a yard out no pressure and he missed with the entire goal wide open.

  27. C,

    The defender who ended up in the net who threw himself to try and block it was looking around for the ball in the net and his face when he see’s it didn’t go in…….. 😀

  28. Damon,

    I just rewatched it to see the defenders face, 😂. If I was Ritchie, I would have immediately faked a hamstring….then again even with a torn Achilles he shouldn’t have missed that.

  29. Damon:
    C,

    The defender who ended up in the net who threw himself to try and block it was looking around for the ball in the net and his face when he see’s it didn’t go in……..

    Must have been a comical sight.

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