Arsenal progressed to the fifth round of the FA Cup with a win over Bournemouth on Monday night, as their young players stole the show.
Arsenal totally dominated the first half of their fourth-round trip to Bournemouth. Bukayo Saka flashed in an opening goal within five minutes at the end of a 22-pass move, and the hosts could hardly get a touch on the ball.
For once, the team actually doubled their lead once on top. Eddie Nketiah scored on his first start back with the club to finish another fine move.
In the second half, Bournemouth did come back into the game, but didn’t even threaten to score until injury time. They got one back in the 93rd minute after a bit of a defensive mix-up and a bit of fortune, but it was too late.
Rather than goalmouth action, most of the second half involved injuries and physios and growing crowd anger. Arsenal may see the long-term consequences of that with an injury to Shkodran Mustafi. All the same, they got the win they needed.
Let’s have a look at our Arsenal player ratings for the Bournemouth match.
- Emi Martinez 6 – Made one important punch right at the end, and another good save earlier on. On the other hand, he came out for one ball he should’ve left and was lucky to punch the ball onto a Bournemouth head and wide, rather than into his own goal.
- Hector Bellerin 7 – There were more than a few signs of the pre-injury Bellerin in this match. He raced forward on a number of occasions and put in a few good crosses, inspiring chants of his name from the Arsenal fans.
- Shkodran Mustafi 7 – Actually had a really positive game before the injury. He looked solid defensively and played some great forward passes. Ended his day after just an hour with what could be a serious concern.
- Sokratis Papastathopoulos 6 – Dominant in the air, a useful trait when you’re up against a team of players that love to cross it in. Not so adventurous in possession, also maybe a little to blame for Bournemouth’s goal.
- Bukayo Saka 8.5 – Building up an excellent partnership with Gabriel Martinelli. The two combined on the overlap for the first goal, which Saka fired home expertly. Then Martinelli’s run drew the defence away from Saka’s pass to set up Nketiah’s goal. Saka also had no real problems defensively, once again.
- Matteo Guendouzi 8.5 – The Bournemouth crowd were on his back all night, mostly because he was playing so well. He completed all five of his attempted dribbles, won a game-high five tackles, had the second-highest pass accuracy of the starters and riled up every player on the Bournemouth team.
- Granit Xhaka 7.5 – One mistake when he tried to dribble it out from the back and made it a bit too obvious. Other than that, he continues to suit this new role very well. He’s solid defensively and useful on the ball, which is exactly what Arteta needs from him.
- Joe Willock 8 – Involved in both goals positively, turning away from pressure for the first and playing an accurate left-footed long pass for the second. His runs into space behind the Bournemouth midfield were a really useful asset. I’m being critical here, but he still got dispossessed too easily a few times.
- Nicolas Pepe 6 – Involved in the first goal, helping transition from defence to midfield after dropping a bit deeper. Also turned away fantastically from a couple of Bournemouth defenders to get a shot off in the first half. A bit quiet other than that and subbed off early.
- Gabriel Martinelli 7 – Only Guendouzi won more tackles than the tireless Brazilian, but Martinelli also showed his intelligence to lay the ball off for the first goal. As mentioned above, he and Saka are developing a real understanding.
- Eddie Nketiah 8 – Took his goal with ease on his weak foot, racing into the box after playing a part earlier in the move as well. Closed down Bournemouth players regularly, forcing mistakes. Also played a few nice lay-offs to Willock, in particular.
- Rob Holding 6 – Did a good job getting up to speed quickly after Mustafi’s injury.
- Dani Ceballos 7 – Didn’t misplace a pass and created a decent late chance to make it 3-0, which would’ve killed the game. Good to have him for inswinging corners, given Pepe and Özil are left-footers and better on the other side.
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles N/A – Didn’t have touch, coming on in injury time. Interesting to see him come on for a midfielder though.