Arsenal smashed Bournemouth 5-1 on Wednesday night, taking full advantage of the opportunity to add to their points tally and goal difference ahead of matches against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.
Just as against Southampton at the weekend, the team made a fast early start, with Mesut Özil scoring within four minutes. Henrikh Mkhitaryan then capitalised on a Bournemouth mistake to make it 2-0, before Arsenal made a mistake of their own to let the away side back into the match at 2-1.
That’s how it remained until half-time, but the Gunners came back out in the second half with a renewed energy, scoring twice in 15 minutes after the break. Laurent Koscielny and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got the goals, assisted by Mkhitaryan in both cases.
That killed the game as a contest, but Alexandre Lacazette still had time to come off the bench and add a fifth from a set piece.
Let’s have a look at our individual player ratings for the clash.
Bernd Leno 7.5
Leno made a great save early on to deny Ryan Fraser one on one, and the German goalkeeper had to make a few more to keep Bournemouth to just one goal in the 90 minutes.
It was a shame he couldn’t keep a clean sheet, but he had no chance with the finish for the goal. On the other hand, it was perhaps a bit too risky to give the ball to Matteo Guendouzi when the Frenchman was under so much pressure. Still, all in all, Leno played well.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos 7
Sokratis had a pretty quiet game. He won a couple of aerial duels, made a couple of clearances and committed a couple of fouls, but didn’t make a single tackle or interception. His passing was solid as usual.
Laurent Koscielny 8.5
Koscielny was excellent and certainly Arsenal’s best defender on the day. He made a crucial block from a Bournemouth shot early on, and made more tackles and interceptions than the rest of the defence combined, even including the wing-backs.
The centre-back’s passing was also more accurate than any other defender’s, and he topped it all off with a goal at the other end.
Late in the game, Koscielny picked up an injury and ended up hobbling around for the final few minutes. Unai Emery insists the knock was nothing serious though, and he hopes Koscielny will be okay for Saturday’s game.
Nacho Monreal 7
Monreal’s performance was more similar to Sokratis’ than Koscielny’s. He did make a couple of interceptions and blocked one shot, but other than that he didn’t really do too much at either end. His job was simply to find Kolasinac and Guendouzi and let them take on all the work in possession.
Carl Jenkinson 7
It was great to see Jenkinson back in the team after such a long absence. There was no doubting his commitment, and he won a couple of great physical duels and tackles. However, on the ball, he looked a little shakier, and couldn’t always make the best of his positioning in the final third.
The nerves were understandable, considering this was the right-back’s first Premier League start at the Emirates Stadium since December 2013. Over five years ago!
Lucas Torreira 7
Torreira had a particularly physical game, even for his standards. He won five free kicks, two more than the other 13 Arsenal players combined, including winning the set piece that Lacazette converted to make it 5-1. The Uruguayan also won seven duels, committed three fouls and picked up a yellow card.
It’s definitely good to have someone in the midfield comfortable with that side of the game, but it would be good if he could turn one or two more of those fouls into fair tackles against Tottenham. Arsenal’s North London rivals are certain to take advantage of any sloppily conceded set-pieces.
Matteo Guendouzi 6
Guendouzi was very clearly targeted by Bournemouth players throughout the entire game, as they swarmed him constantly. As a result, we shouldn’t be too harsh on him for the mistake leading to the goal, even though it was definitely an error on his part. Aside from that one poor moment, the 19-year-old dealt with the pressure very well.
Sead Kolasinac 7.5
Kolasinac had another good game, even if he wasn’t quite on the same level as against Southampton. He provided the assist for Özil’s opening goal and created a couple more opportunities, including with a nice flick to Mkhitaryan whose low cross could easily have been turned in by someone running across the near post.
The Bosnian really made the most of his strength on the ball, muscling Bournemouth players off without any problems. Unfortunately, he then had to come off after 57 minutes as an injury precaution.
Mesut Özil 9
Özil was fantastic throughout the match. In the opening minutes, he pulled out his trademark finish, dubbed ‘The Özil’, chipping the ball over Bournemouth keeper Artur Boruc by trapping it into the floor. Within the opening half an hour he also had an assist, unselfishly squaring for a Mkhitaryan finish into an open net.
The German also hit the post at the end of a nice move, and he created five chances overall. Despite his advanced position on the pitch, the 30-year-old completed 97% of his passes, the most of any Arsenal starter.
It was a brilliant showing and one which might push him into contention against Tottenham, even though that probably wasn’t the plan at first.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan 9
Mkhitaryan was also on top form, and this was probably his best ever Arsenal performance. The Armenian scored a fairly simple goal after being set up by Özil, but he followed it up with two impressive assists which involved just as much hard work in the build-up as in the final ball (which was also good in both cases).
The 30-year-old could easily have had a hat-trick of assists, creating four chances on the night. His passing was sharp, his movement was good and he worked hard off the ball. It was no surprise to see him coming off early because he’ll surely be in line to start against Spurs now.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 8
Aubameyang had a few shots throughout the match, but only one real clear-cut chance, which he scored in clinical fashion. The striker had a good game all around, linking up well with his teammates, particularly Mkhitaryan.
Other than the goal, Aubameyang’s biggest contribution was probably that his movement kept the Bournemouth defenders occupied and allowed Özil and Mkhitaryan the space to do what they wanted. He ended up coming off with 20 minutes to go for Denis Suarez.
Substitute 1: Alex Iwobi 7
Iwobi had a solid showing after coming on, with Arsenal switching to a back four so he could play wide on the left. He hit the side netting with one chance at the near post and completed all but one of the passes he attempted, so there wasn’t really anything to complain about.
Substitute 2: Alexandre Lacazette 8
Lacazette came off the bench to add another goal to his growing tally, as he remains Arsenal’s top scorer in 2019. The finish came from a surprising source, a free-kick, something we haven’t seen the striker attempt particularly often since joining. However, it was a very well taken goal, and maybe he should be on set-piece duties more often!
The striker also made a nice run and got a good shot away to force a corner prior to his goal, and he completed all the passes and dribbles he attempted. He even got back to make a couple of clearances.
Substitute 3: Denis Suarez 7
Suarez made one particularly nice driving run forwards, and he was involved in a couple of good moves after coming on. He also made a nice tackle to recover the ball at one point. He’ll want to start getting involved in the goals a bit more, but he’s showing positive signs in his brief substitute appearances so far.