After a disappointing start to the calendar year, we ended our goal drought with a 2-0 win over Bournemouth to get our title hunt back on track.
There were some surprises in the lineup, with Mathieu Flamini and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain starting the most shocking. Opting to field the Ox would prove to be a fantastic move though, while Flamini’s inclusion almost proved to be a poor choice when he came close to seeing red after just eight minutes.
He lunged in on Dan Gosling with a reckless two footed challenge, which in the modern game is more often than not a sending off. The referee opted for no more than a yellow though, and Arsenal fans breathed a sigh of relief.
It was an open start to the game, and it looked like there would be chances for both sides. The first really clear cut opportunity fell to us though, and Mesut Özil accepted it with open arms.
Aaron Ramsey lofted a ball forward towards Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud, with the Frenchman rising high to nod it into the path of Özil. The German playmaker took it early, striking a venomous shot with his weaker right-foot from close range to get the better of Artur Boruc. 1-0.
While we were busy celebrating the first goal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain snuck in and grabbed Arsenal’s second. Ramsey again played a part, intercepting a stray pass and immediately setting the Ox away. He sliced the ball across goal towards the far post, Boruc helpless as it rattled the wood work and spun away into the back of the net. 2-0.
Despite looking good up front, Bournemouth were taking advantage of some dodgy defensive mistakes. Petr Cech was called upon to palm a fantastic Harry Arter shot over the bar, while Gabriel Paulista had the pace of Hector Bellerin to thank after the Spaniard put in a last ditch tackle to rectify a shocking mistake on his part.
You would have liked to see us control the game and extend our lead in the second half, but instead it became even more open. The Cherries had a couple of decent chances early on, while Giroud and Alexis tested Boruc at the other end.
We called on Petr Cech repeatedly in the second half to keep our clean sheet intact, with the Czech international flying all over his goal. Thankfully Bournemouth’s shooting was fairly poor for the most part, as a better team might have tested us a little more.
There was one moment right at the death where Cech really earned his stripes, making a quick double save after being partially unsighted. We had already made a number of defensive substitutions, so if it wasn’t for Cech we would have been in for a really uncomfortable last few minutes.
It would have been nice to be a bit more dominant, as our recent poor form has brought our title credentials into question. Given that we’ve been in such poor form though, we can’t really sniff at a 2-0 win, and we just have to hope this is the start of a good run.
The win takes us above Manchester City and into third place, but still five points behind Leicester City. We’re playing host to the Foxes next week though, so it’s a chance to gain some ground and potentially move second in the league.