By Walter Broeckx
Sorry to have been keeping you waiting for this match report. But as you know I have been travelling a bit and so was in the stadium and not in my comfortable seat at home. So no seeing things and typing with looking further at the match. So the events may have happened in some other order as I now am working from what my brain has remembered as being important.
In my match preview I managed to get most names wrong. Only Cech, Mustafi and Kos and Özil were about right I think. Wenger used his squad and started with the following players: Cech, Debuchy ( a real surprise to most of us), Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal (I expected Gibbs more or less) Elneny and Xhaka in midfield and then Özil, Walcott, Alexis and Oxlade-Chamberlain (who was also a surprise inclusion for me).
On the beach: Ospina, Gibbs Gabriel Coquelin, Ramsey, Iwobi, Giroud.
Arsenal started rather bright with a good run from the Ox on the left who was then chopped down in a brutal way. A foul and a yellow card was given. Another foul and another yellow card against Bournemouth followed soon. Arsenal attacking with speed and Debuchy doing a good job both defensive when blocking a possible cross and helping out in the attack. When a Bournemouth defender tried to play the ball to his keeper he underhit it the ball and Alexis was quickly there to take the present and put the ball under the keeper. GOAL!!! 1-0 to the Arsenal.
Then we saw Debuchy sitting on the floor a bit later. He had to come off and Gabriel came on. After some confusion first it was Gabriel who would play at right back. Poor Debuchy. He looked sharp and was having a good first match. I really feel sorry for him. After having been kicked and pushed off the field in his first seasons he now is having some bad luck once again.
It seemed to have an impact on our game as we suddenly were less dominant. Gabriel trying to find his position and trying to find how to play right back. Suddenly Bournemouth who are a decent midtable team smelled blood. And so did the ref who from my seat in the stands started to do some strange things. Alexis being brought down (in or outside the penalty area is unclear for me) but he completely ignored what looked a blatant foul for me. And to make things worse he then complete ignored a Bournemouth player embracing Özil and throwing him on the floor and from the following attack a Bournemouth player threw himself at the floor with what looked like an excellent dive in the Olympics and much to our amazement the ref pointed at the spot. Should we really be amazed at such decisions from the PGMO representant??? Not really for those who have been following Untold and our referee reports.
Bournemouth equalised and Arsenal struggled. Losing a player who was having a good match, then the ref calling all and everything against Arsenal it was a bit too much and you could see how the players were more worried about what next the ref would invent than they were busy playing football. It really is one of those things that can destabilise a team when they feel/think the ref is doing them over. It was visible. Too much arguments towards the ref and not enough focussing on what we can do about it.
Bournemouth with a few half chances but they couldn’t capitalise on our bad patch in the match. And with the end of the first half in sight we started to get better again. A chance for Alexis that he shot just wide, another shot that was going wide and then Alexis had a great shot that cannoned off the crossbar. That deserved a goal.
In the second half we played with more focus. Xhaka dictating play in midfield with his passing, Elneny running and closing down all over the field. Up front we sometimes took the wrong options. A few times a great opening was clear to see from the stands but players picking out the wrong man. A better execution would have seen us clear much earlier.
But finally Özil delivered a cross from the right that ended up at the other side where Monreal brought it back in front of goal. Alexis was just too short but Walcott was the next option and he nicely headed it home. GOAL!!! 2-1 after 54 minutes.
Bournemouth came at Arsenal again trying to find the equaliser. And Arsenal had many chances of making it game over on the break but our final bass simply went missing or was not good enough. The Ox was getting tired and was replaced by Ramsey. Goalscorer Walcott was also taken off and Giroud came on.
Bournemouth got a corner and former Gunner Afobe had a shot from close range but Cech showed he still is one of the best with a reaction save. Ramsey trying to find Giroud but he couldn’t control his volley and the ball went wide. Then a moment when the ball seemed to hit the arm of Monreal at the far end for me but the ref had given enough present to Bournemouth I think and he didn’t give them a second penalty.
The match was completely open now and in the last minute we finally made sure that the 3 points would be ours. Özil on a counter on the right with Giroud in the middle and Alexis at the far post. He picked out the rung of Giroud who had to sprint hard to get to the goal line and keep the ball in play, his low pass was simply pushed over the line by Alexis. GOAL!!! 3-1 after 90 minutes.
Match over and both teams seemingly settling for the final score in the extra time. A late clash of heads between Giroud and a defender right at the final whistle but both players could walk in to the dressing room.
A hard fought win against a Bournemouth team that seemed to get a little bit of help from the referee at first but had to accept defeat. 3 well taken goals from Arsenal against 1 early Christmas present penalty goal for Bournemouth. We hit the cross bar. And some say Arsenal was lucky….. oh well…