Bournemouth v Arsenal: a visit to the smallest ground in the league

By Sir Hardly Anyone

On 9 February this year Bournemouth played a home FA Cup match against Boreham Wood and lost 0-1.   It was on TV and I think a lot of supporters of the Women’s team watched on TV (as indeed I did) supporting The Wood as of course that is where the team play a lot of their home games.

I’m not too sure Bournemouth minded however.  Across the remaining 18 Championship games they had to play they won 10 and drew six.   It was enough to give them automatic promotion six points clear of third-placed Huddersfield.

Against all the odds Bournemouth had survived five seasons in the top league before going back down, and it has taken them only two years to climb back up.  A remarkable achievement in a ground that holds only 11,364, and a club that has been looking to move for a number of years.  The ground is in fact the same ground that housed the club from its earliest days including from 1924 to 1969 when it had a continuous run in the Third Division (South) and the Third Division.  In its previous five years in the Premier League before relegation the club came 9th, 12th, 14th, 16th and then 18th in 2019-20 when it was relegated.

The population of the conurbation the club draws its prime support from is just over half a million, which is a far bigger area than the conurbation surrounding, for example, Burnley FC, but it is not an area with a long history of supporting the local football club.

Bournemouth finished last season with four wins and four draws scoring 12 goals in those eight games ending up as the second highest scorers in the league…

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Fulham 46 27 9 10 106 43 63 90
2 AFC Bournemouth 46 25 13 8 74 39 35 88
3 Huddersfield Town 46 23 13 10 64 47 17 82
4 Nottingham Forest 46 23 11 12 73 40 33 80


And this summer their dipping into the transfer market has been modest including Senesi for £12.6 from Feyenoord, Tavernier, for £210m from Middlesbrough, and the appropriately named Neto, the keeper from Barcelona on a free, along with a couple of other free transfers.

Thus they appear to be following the Norwich City path of going up, taking the money, but not spending it on an attempt to stay up.   Then if they go down, keeping much the same team and having another exciting year getting promotion.

This is the opposite sort of approach from, for example, Nottingham Forest who having finally come up, aim to stay there, seeing themselves perhaps like Aston Villa as a team destined for Premier League status.  (Forest have spent over £100m this summer).

Bournemouth’s home form last season was impressive, gaining an equal number of points as Fulham.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Fulham 23 14 4 5 56 20 36 46
2 AFC Bournemouth 23 13 7 3 41 21 20 46
3 Millwall 23 13 6 4 32 16 16 45
4 Huddersfield Town 23 13 6 4 35 23 12 45


Arsenal in contrast were sixth if just away games are measured, ending up with a negative goal difference away from home.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 19 14 4 1 41 11 30 46
2 Liverpool 19 13 4 2 45 17 28 43
3 Chelsea 19 12 4 3 39 11 28 40
4 Tottenham Hotspur 19 9 4 6 31 21 10 31
5 Brighton and Hove Albion 19 7 8 4 23 21 2 29
6 Arsenal 19 9 1 9 26 31 -5 28


I would imagine Bournemouth are rather content with their start to the season with a 2-0 home win over Aston Villa and then a 4-0 away defeat to Manchester City.   Of course 4-0 always hurts, but having got that first victory under their belts at home they must fancy their chance of nicking something against Arsenal.   My feeling is if we can get an early goal, that will of course force them out a little and leave exactly the spaces  that we revelled in against Leicester.

And we can perhaps take some extra comfort – if any is needed – from the history of the games between the clubs….

Date Match Res Score Competition
27 Oct 1987 Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth W 3-0 League Cup
28 Dec 2015 Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth W 2-0 Premier League
07 Feb 2016 AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal W 0-2 Premier League
27 Nov 2016 Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth W 3-1 Premier League
03 Jan 2017 AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal D 3-3 Premier League
09 Sep 2017 Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth W 3-0 Premier League
14 Jan 2018 AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal L 2-1 Premier League
25 Nov 2018 AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal W 1-2 Premier League
27 Feb 2019 Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth W 5-1 Premier League
06 Oct 2019 Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth W 1-0 Premier League
26 Dec 2019 AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
27 Jan 2020 AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal W 1-2 FA Cup


They have beaten Arsenal just once in January 2018 – a result which was certainly a surprise since at the time Arsenal were sixth in the league and Bournemouth 17th.   It was part of a Bournemouth revival which saw them end the season in 12th – their second best finish ever – although much was also due to the collapse of the other teams at the foot of  the table. 

Bournemouth missed the drop by 11 points as Swansea, Stoke City and West Bromwich went down.

More anon.

One Reply to “Bournemouth v Arsenal: a visit to the smallest ground in the league”

  1. Sky pre-match programme shows the goals from a previous game between the two teams. Obviously not randomly selected. They showed the goals from the only previous game won by Bournemouth.

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