Arsenal dropped points in yet another winnable game, allowing the Premier League title to slip further from their grasp… but at least we got a point.
As expected, Arsenal dominated the opening exchanges with strong passing and a desire to get forward rather than just push the ball around.
However, it was Bournemouth who had the first meaningful shot of the game after Francis Coquelin dithered on the ball, was dispossessed and the ball skirted past Petr Cech’s far post.
While Arsenal were perhaps stronger on the ball, the Cherries did more with it, getting forward with ease and cutting through our defence with an intensity numerous teams kick-off with against the Gunners.
Arsenal, meanwhile, defended solidly. Not that that did anything to calm Gooners’ nerves. Especially when Bournemouth went one-on-one with Cech and the goalkeeper pushed the ball away, provoking the home fans to call for a penalty, which was rightfully not given.
Annoyingly though, Charlie Daniels put the home side ahead in the 17th minute after Hector Bellerin and Aaron Ramsey essentially decided to ignore him and leave him in acres of space. The usually reliable right-back’s definitely had better moments.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, Granit Xhaka gave away a penalty minutes later, which, of course, Callum Wilson scored.
The home team continued on the front foot and could have won by an even higher tally.
Coquelin, who wasn’t having a particularly bright game, went down holding his hamstring just before half time and was swiftly taken off for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Despite being 2-0 down, Arsenal continued to attempt to draw the well-organised Cherries out but the home team weren’t biting; pressing and quickly returning to their position.
Throughout the rest of the first half, Bournemouth were the brighter team; they snuffed out more or less every Arsenal chance while still creating their own.
The visitors did start to grow into the game in the second half but Bournemouth, despite only having 22% possession in the opening 10 minutes, showed how fragile we were with firstly having a third goal ruled out through hand ball and then actually scoring their third through Fraser. There was a similar shove on Bellerin to the one that was a penalty earlier in the game but it obviously wasn’t given.
Lucas Perez was then introduced to save the day.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 3, 2017
We did manage to get a goal back through Alexis Sanchez (who else?) but it looked like it wasn’t enough. From then on, it was the Alexis show, with the Chilean looking like the only player who wanted to be there.
That was until Lucas Perez managed to bring the score to 3-2 with an absolute stunner of a goal within five minutes of Alexis’.
Arsenal continued to mount attack after attack, while Bournemouth’s Simon Francis went in for a horrific tackle on Ramsey. He spent about 10 minutes leaving the pitch.
Then, within the dying minutes, Olivier Giroud equalised, salvaging a point and saving our blushes. Papering over the cracks, again.
An overwhelmingly familiar display, reaction and result. A lacklustre performances followed by a mad scrabble to score.
It’s not good enough.