Mikel Arteta managed his first game as Arsenal head coach against Bournemouth on Thursday, overseeing a 1-1 draw away from home.
After a few weeks of Freddie Ljungberg as interim head coach following Unai Emery’s sacking, Mikel Arteta took the job as the new permanent boss at Arsenal. His first game saw the Gunners travel to Bournemouth, in a game where they should really have won all three points.
The away side dominated the first half but were very wasteful in front of goal. Bournemouth took advantage, scoring a rare opportunity to give themselves a 1-0 lead at the break.
Arteta’s Arsenal responded by continuing to build pressure in the second half, eventually leading to a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang equaliser. They had chances to win it, but it ended 1-1.
Let’s have a look at our player ratings for the fixture.
- Bernd Leno 7 – Made a number of key saves and claims, including for a late chance for a Bournemouth winner. Though that save fell to Callum Wilson to score, the striker was offside, and the initial stop was impressive. Hardly to blame for the goal either.
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles 5 – Guilty of getting a little too close to Josh King on a couple of occasions. Clearly used as an inverted full-back by Arteta, coming inside regularly, but despite some good moments, he wasn’t entirely comfortable with the position yet. It’s early days.
- Sokratis Papastathopoulos 5 – Made one good tackle, and played things all too safe in possession as usual. Ended up picking up an injury in the second half.
- David Luiz 6 – Luiz’s forward passes were a bit hit and miss, either conceding possession or getting Arsenal into a really dangerous area. Should have had an assist for Lacazette in the second half. Luiz was good in the air but not quite quick enough to cover for the goal.
- Bukayo Saka 5 – Arteta found an intelligent way to get Saka forward on a regular basis, with Granit Xhaka dropping into his place in possession. Unfortunately, Saka’s final ball wasn’t there on the day, though Aubameyang could have released him more effectively too.
- Granit Xhaka 8 – An excellent midfield performance from the divisive 27-year-old. Xhaka’s pass in the build-up to Arsenal’s goal took half the Bournemouth team out. The midfielder dropped back into the left-back spot in possession and it really helped the team play out from the back. Linked up well with all of those around him.
- Lucas Torreira 7 – Worked well with Xhaka in and out of possession. Helped Arsenal win the ball back quickly and supported the attacks well. It’s clear why Arteta wants to keep the pair in January.
- Mesut Özil 7.5 – Though he did fade before his substitution in the second half, Özil spent a lot of time effectively pulling the strings in the first 65 minutes or so. A positive return after his absence against Everton.
- Reiss Nelson 5 – Needed to make more of his opportunities to get a cross in. Ended up playing the pass leading to Arsenal’s goal, though slightly fortuitously.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 7 – As usual, all of Arsenal’s best chances came from Aubameyang. He curled one just wide as the team searched for an equaliser, then turned the ball home to get his goal in the 63rd minute. One criticism would be the inconsistent way he released Saka on the left. He doesn’t seem to have a natural sense of how and when to play that pass.
- Alexandre Lacazette 4 – Seemed to trip over the ball a few times when trying to dribble, overhit quite a few passes, blasted the ball high and wide of the target in the first half. Could have done better with his second-half chance, though the Bournemouth player made a great challenge, in fairness.
- Joe Willock 5 – Didn’t really affect the game in the final 15 minutes, bar one chance where he should have put more power behind the shot.
- Shkodran Mustafi 6 – Arsenal were the team putting all the pressure on by the time Mustafi came on, so he didn’t have to do much. He won an aerial duel and made a few passes.
- Nicolas Pépé 7 – Had a brief but positive impact, completing more dribbles in 10 minutes (three) than any other Arsenal player in the full 90. Completed all of his passes too, just couldn’t provide the winning goal in those final moments.