By Tony Attwood, sitting by the swimming pool in Spain, as the rain patters down
Watching Sky’s overseas service (Bein Sports) with the awful Richard Keys and Andy Grey is a very dispiriting experience. They as their independent commentator in the studio Clive Allen – obviously a very balanced middle of the road man when it comes to commentary on Arsenal.
Arsenal will, it seems, never change ever. That’s really all you need to know.
Debuchy Mustafi Koscielny Monreal
Walcott Ozil The Ox
Gibbs Gabriel Coquelin, Ramsey, Iwobi, Giroud
A lot of TV chat about how wonderful it is to see an English manager in the league – Bein Sports TV channel doing its bit for narrow nationalistic tendencies of some Brits who have chosen to live overseas.
The Telegraph gave Arsenal a 5-0 win before the game. We shall see. Sky saying this is the absolute key game. They have to win this one. Otherwise that’s it.
Arsenal attacking the Clock End and we’re off. Ten seconds in, and Bournemouth commit a nasty foul on the back of Kos. Lovely 1-2 with Debuchy, great move with Ozil nearly scoring in the first minute.
Bournemouth attacking but as soon as Arsenal get the ball there are more fouls, all excused by the Sky commentators including dreadful foul on Alexis. “These Arsenal fans want to be entertained” says some prat.
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Writing this as the match goes on I have never realised what gibberish there is on TV during commentaries. This commentary is Bournemouth all the way.
Yet another and another foul, finally a dreadful crude foul on the Ox as he was cutting in and at last a yellow card. Brilliant tactic of leaving the ball, gets the ball to Elneny but the shot is blocked. And suddenly the TV channel picks up Mad Maria with her one woman chant. I’d forgotten about her.
10 minutes and it is all Arsenal. Bournemouth’s contributions mostly illegal. Walcott through after a 1-2 but the spin of the ball stops him but as the keeper bowls the ball out the defenders gives it back a bit short and Alexis gets it puts it perfectly under the keeper . GOAL.
From the kick off it is all Arsenal still. TV says “nightmare for Eddie Howe” but it is anything but. Alexis brought down in the area and the ref says nothing – in terms of refereeing it is all going Bournemouth’s way. TV replay of Alexis shows two fouls against him at once.
Debuchy down with a hamstring and he goes up after 15 minutes, Gabriel on. And it is raining again and I have to move back under cover for the sake of the computer. Bournemouth now having an attack, the ball goes out for a corner and Sky says it “canons round dangerously” which is wildly misleading gibberish of the first order.
Another superb attack involving Theo (who TV tells me has become a father for the second time), but an offside stops it.
Bournemouth has a corner. Much enthusiasm. Talk of an equaliser but after another foul and another foul a Bournemouth attack gets a penalty. Bournemouth get their first league goal against Arsenal. Sky goes bonkers.
Instantly from kick off Bournemouth get ball and ref gives a free kick to Bournemouth. “The goal has rattled Arsenal”. Alan Smith gets a free header, on TV it looks offside, but it sails harmlessly over the goal.
Ake fouls yet again to give Arsenal a free kick just outside the area but it comes to nothing. Even with the censored sound recording we can hear that the crowd is quite clear that the referee has the most limited grasp on reality when it comes to football. Sky says Bournemouth now has total control of the game. Oh blimey, amazing, Sky has now said that they understand Arsenal’s frustration about the penalty.
Ref gives a lecture to Koscielny, probably saying “look the match is fixed, you know it, I know it, but if you keep on protesting I’ll send all of you us.”
Another Arsenal attack, Xhaka getting involved on the left. From the TV pics it looks as if Ozil needs to find a way into the game – but of course TV often doesn’t give the full picture. But they are now saying Bournemouth should be ahead. They certainly are on dubious decisions.
Another Arsenal attack breaks down for Arsenal but they get the ball back immediately.
35 minutes gone and Arsenal look as if they are trying to find a way to beat the referee and Bournemouth at the same time, and it is tricky. Bournemouth looking very confident, as so they should.
Arsenal breaking and get the ball into the area but Alexis loses the ball, Elneny gets it back but the ball goes over. The Ox on the wing, the ball bounces around Alexis to Ozil who knocks it down and Alexis gets it back and shoots just over.
Arsenal now attacking and attacking, just won’t work. But now as the first half comes to the last five minutes Arsenal have been in the ascendancy. Then amazing moment, ref gives a foul against Bournemouth and the crowd gives a huge cheer, but TV has to ignore it of course.
Yet another Arsenal attack, Gabriel and Walcott and Alexis it goes for a corner. Arsenal all attack. Bounemouth break Arsenal get it back and another foul this from Smith. That must be foul number 8,947 by them this match. Ozil a wonderful disguised pas to Walcott and it goes out off a Bournemouth player and TV denies reality.
Awful awful foul by Bournemouth defender but ref just gives a free kick. If you want to see biased and bent refereeing just watch that moment just before half time.
Alexis across the pitch to Elneny. Another multiple player move ends with a sensational Alexis shot which hits the bar with great force. All Arsenal now but Arsenal really holding back for fear of what the ref might do. Huge levels of booing from crowd as ref goes off for half time.
The co-commentator is Jim Beglin – I wondered who it was. Into the second half now, Arsenal attacking the north bank. Theo immediately fouled, so second half starts as the first. Free kick for Arsenal but Ozil’s kick goes through and out.
Bournemouth get a curious looking corner but Arsenal break away. Now the commentary is all about other matches commentators have seen. All Arsenal for the moment in the early moments of second half. Arsenal have clearly been lectured on the referee by Mr Wenger, not going for tackles. Giroud warming up on 51 minutes.
Bournemouth fighting back now on the break but it is mostly Arsenal, with Ozil getting more of the ball, and eventually it goes to Monreal who passes to Theo who heads it in and dedicates the goal to his new baby. GOAL.
Sky suggesting Arsenal only ahead because Bournemouth have not taken opportunities – presumably those given by the ref.
Wonderful cross by the Ox, but no one there to take the ball. Crowd making more noise. I hope you are using my seat to good effect Walter.
Beautiful pass pass pass pass from Arsenal in their own half allows Arsenal to build another attack. Bournemouth get the ball back but are kept in their own half and they are more and more using the long ball tactic. The Ox looks to be a little tired; Bournemouth get the ball back and get a corner. Arsenal break but the Ox’s centre isn’t good. Mr Wenger looks annoyed.
Xhaka: a perfect pass to Alexis to Ozil, almost a goal. That is what we know Xhaka can do – a great sign for the future. Now Arsenal again, Ox shoots and is blocked but ref helps Bournemouth by giving a free kick. Alexis gets a yellow after a tackle on Arter – that is right for once, and Alexis doesn’t protest. A forward’s tackle.
Just seen a replay of the second goal – Monreal brilliant in his pass for the goal.
Benik Afobe on for Bournemouth. Wonderful from Sky, “a bit of psychology there”. So what bit of life is not psychology? We think, we behave. It is psychology.
Arsenal back in the game, thr0ugh hard work and the awareness that they are playing 12. Bournemouth clearances not getting out of their own half. Arsenal slowing the game down. Mr Wenger has a frown. Bournemouth attacking, but Gabriel brilliant as has Kos been throughout.
Crowd keeping the noise up, Gabriel excellent again. Bournemouth forced back to the keeper from the half way line. Everyone pushing forwards. Monreal playing a superb game but then Xhaka takes a shot and it goes horribly wild. Maybe that will stop people shouting SHOOT every time he gets the ball. Bournemouth player down injured.
Kos yet another fine interception but Bournemouth get a corner. Arsenal clear, Walcott has a chance after a pass from Ozil but it goes astray. Bournemouth claim a handball for a hand in the natural position and ref actually gives Bournemouth a card for dissent. Seems to say “I have given you every chance and you have blown it you can’t have that.”
As suggested the Ox is going off and Giroud and Ramsey are on. Theo off. Can’t see who else went off, sorry. Bournemouth straight on the attack, corner, and Cechj a brilliant save from Afobe.
Arsenal pushing forwards again but Bournemouth keep trying the counter mixed with horrible fouls, but it is Elneny who is punished but defence is strong. And at last a Bournemouth yellow for Brad Smith as Ozil is utterly and totally taken out. Appalling, disgraceful, disgusting. Smith wisely removed by his manager.
Arsenal continuing to attack with under 10 minutes to go. Alexis on the wing now onto Giroud who of course is pulled all over the place and of course nothing is given. Bournemouth have nothing to lose so throw everything through but defence is solid. In Spain it is cold and wet. In London the crowd is making the point about Bournemouth’s approach to this game.
Mustafi brilliant in clearing. Ozil full of life and Alexis and Ozil looking bright. Ball down other end and Alexis turns up tackling to break up attack.
Bournemouth resorting to shirt pulling at every chance. Arsenal playing it cool, taking their time, and Giroud almost gets his statutory goal. Arsenal attack and attack, Ramsey nearly gets there but it goes for a corner. It is all Arsenal and Gosling is yellow carded for another awful awful foul. Five yellows for Bournemouth, should have been far far more.
Ozil free kick, another attack breaks down. Lots of what radio reporters used to call argy bargy.
Bournemouth try to push forwards but again Arsenal intercept and try a quick counter. Bournemouth try one attack, the final header goes about five yards wide. Bournemouth then break again, it is still frantic. Arsenal break on the counter and yes yes yes yes it is all over. The attack starts in the Arsenal half and Giroud provides the last pass for Alexis to get his second. All the disgraceful fouling in the world has not stopped Arsenal. GOAL. 3-1.
Five weeks of stoppage time. Well that is what it should be given the way Bournemouth has played. But it is five minutes.
Gabriel gets a yellow, as is ordained in PGMO rules. Bournemouth trying via a long throw and keeping going but the fouling has declined and with that their major weapon has gone. Ramsey to Alexis back to the centre but it breaks down, and Bournemouth counter. Ref has given up too – a ball over the goal line results in an Arsenal goal kick. Earlier it would have been a corner.
And that’s it. 3-1. That will do.
Now you know what it would be like to sit next to me in the stadium. Now I know how difficult it is to write a report of the match while it is on. Don’t know how you do it Walter. Safe journey back to Antwerp. I’m off for a meal in the hotel, and then another dance.