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EPL 2016-17: Bournemouth 3-3 Arsenal - 5 talking points

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 03: Olivier Giroud of Arsenal attempts a bicycle kick during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal at Vitality Stadium on January 3, 2017 in Bournemouth, England.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Olivier Giroud makes a valiant attempt at a bicycle kick during Arsenal’s game against Bournemouth
Tina Kaviraj

AFC Bournemouth was seemingly fortunate to host Arsenal at the Vitality Stadium 48 hours after their previous league game. It was also just about the time when the Gunners usually lose the plot and begin to unravel in their title chase. However, what transpired was slightly removed from the usual narrative that Premier League fans are used to. Eddie Howe’s men started off as the better side as they looked energetic and hungry in comparison to a lethargic Arsenal.

Bournemouth’s eagerness paid off as Charlie Daniels scored a beautiful first goal for his side. The Cherries doubled their lead in the next five minutes after Granit Xhaka’s foul on Ryan Fraser led to a spot-kick for the home side. Despite Wilson’s mediocre attempt, Petr Cech went to his left as the forward’s attempt went straight in for a goal.

Arsene Wenger’s side came back looking more resolute in the second half but it was Bournemouth who scored yet again after Ryan Fraser beat Cech at his near post as his shot went through the keeper’s legs. With more than half an hour to go, Arsenal finally scored through an Alexis Sanchez attempt. His strike seemed to re-energise the north London side as they pressed for more.

Their second goal came through substitute Lucas Perez and it became the mother of all comebacks when Olivier Giroud’s header drew his team level with their opponents. While Bournemouth’s capitulation may be chalked down to Simon Francis’s dismissal, there’s more to it than meet’s the eye.

For a better understanding of the game, here are the five major talking points:

#1 Bellerin’s nightmare

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 03: Charlie Daniels of AFC Bournemouth and Hector Bellerin of Arsenal compete for the ball during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal at Vitality Stadium on January 3, 2017 in Bournemouth, England.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Hector Bellerin (left) competes for the ball with Charlie Daniels

Hector Bellerin has arguably been one of Arsenal’s best defenders for the past couple of seasons but you wouldn’t say that after watching his display against Bournemouth. The Spanish right-back had a night to forget as two of the goals Arsenal conceded can be traced back to his mistakes. In fact, the 21-year-old might suffer from recurring nightmares after being shown up by Cherries left-back Charlie Daniels.

Bellerin was so innocuous against Daniels that he failed to mark the defender as he surged forward which was exactly what happened leading up to Bournemouth’s first goal. Junior Stanislas picked out Daniels with a wonderful ball who found himself in acres of space as Bellerin was nowhere to be found. By the time the Spaniard woke up to the threat, Daniels had already cut past him to score with a powerful strike.

Bournemouth’s third goal can also be effectively connected with Bellerin failing to do his job. He just allowed Ryan Fraser to shrug him off as he put up no resistance as a consequence of which the Englishman was through on goal.

#2 Bournemouth’s positive play

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 03: Ryan Fraser of AFC Bournemouth celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal at Vitality Stadium on January 3, 2017 in Bournemouth, England.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Ryan Fraser celebrates his goal against Arsenal

AFC Bournemouth was this close to taking the wind out of Arsenal’s sail after their three-goal lead, not that their single point from the game did them many favours but it did help them save face. While they drew level, plenty of questions will be asked about why Bournemouth was able to all but route them. As the match kicked off, the home side looked determined and proved it with their every move.

The Cherries refused to allow the Gunners time on the ball, dispossessing them quickly and trying to catch them on the counter. Their overall passing was far superior to Arsenal’s in the first half as they had no trouble getting past a slow Arsenal. Wenger will tell you the team was tired after their game barely 48 hours ago, but that’s never an excuse at the highest level of professional football.

Stanislas, Josh King and Ryan Fraser were running circles around the opposition’s defence while Cherries defender Nathan Ake kept a close tab on the Gunners’ frontman, Olivier Giroud.

#3 The strange case of Olivier Giroud

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 03: Referee Michael Oliver talks to Olivier Giroud of Arsenal during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal at Vitality Stadium on January 3, 2017 in Bournemouth, England.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Olivier Giroud made two assists and scored his side’s third goal against Bournemouth

Olivier Giroud’s form and performance are quite enigmatic at times. After the French forward came on off the bench to score crucial goals for his side, Wenger finally decided to give him a shot in the starting line-up this past Sunday. Re-introducing the striker to the side and pushing Alexis Sanchez back into the left wing worked out pretty well as they won their game against Crystal Palace. So, it was no wonder he started tonight’s game as well.

However, the results of his inclusion weren’t as satisfactory in the first half. The striker was isolated for most of the half under the watchful eyes of defenders Ake and Steve Cook. Even when his teammates did manage to work the ball towards him, he was nowhere in the vicinity.

All this changed in the second half as the Frenchman seemed to display a greater determination. He quickly ingratiated himself in the game to help build up two of his side’s goal and finally score the equaliser. Whatever Wenger said to Giroud during half time worked wonders as he started imposing himself and causing problems for the defence.

#4 Two key turning points

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 03:  Simon Francis (4th R) of AFC Bournemouth reacts after receiving a red card by referee Michael Oliver (2nd L) after tackling on Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal at Vitality Stadium on January 3, 2017 in Bournemouth, England.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Simon Francis sees red after his lunging challenge on Aaron Ramsey

After establishing a three-goal lead within an hour of kick-off, it was Bournemouth’ s game to lose or draw as the case turned out to be. Howe’ s men had a comfortable lead which they had to sit back and defend. They were doing a pretty good job of it too as they sat back and absorbed Arsenal’s attempts but two key moments in the match changed the outcome completely.

After Arsenal had closed in with two goals, Dan Gosling was presented with an amazing opportunity to extend their lead. After a spot of combination play on the right, Gosling found himself facing the goal with the ball at his feet with no one but Cech in his way. He even executed such a beautiful turn! But the goal wasn’t meant to be as his shot curled over the crossbar.

As if Gosling’s missed attempt wasn’t bad enough, it was followed by a rash challenge on Aaron Ramsey by Bournemouth captain Simon Francis. He lunged wildly at the Welsh midfielder forcing Michael Oliver to send him off immediately. Thereafter, Arsenal made the most of their one-man advantage to equalise through a Giroud header.

#5 Wenger’s substitutions

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 03:  Lucas Perez (R) of Arsenal scores his side's second goal  during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal at Vitality Stadium on January 3, 2017 in Bournemouth, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Lucas Perez (left) scores Arsenal’s second goal against Bournemouth

With Aaron Ramsey replacing the ill Mesut Ozil in the number 10 position, Arsenal didn’t seem to be having much luck. Neither was there much chemistry between Alex Iwobi, Sanchez and Giroud as the Gunners’ play was falling flat on its face repeatedly. However, what began turning the tide in their favour was the early substitution of Francis Coquelin. The French midfielder was forced to go off after an injury in the 28th minute to be replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

While the Englishman’s involvement didn’t yield any immediate results, the change in formation made Arsenal’s attack look a little more potent once Ramsey started sitting deeper.

Wenger’s decision to bring on Lucas Perez in place of Iwobi in the 63rd minute proved to be the actual moment of inspiration as the Spaniard made a positive impact almost immediately. The Frenchman’s decision paid off when Perez scored Arsenal’s second goal, giving them the hope of a comeback and a precious point from the embarrassing encounter.

Edited by Staff Editor

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