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Arsenal 1-0 Bournemouth: David Luiz’ first club goal enough to sour Cherries visit to Emirates

By the time Martin Atkinson had blown for full-time, you’d half forgotten Arsenal had won the game.

That’s how it is at the Emirates Stadium right now; awesome in attack but rather less so in defence.

They started like a house on fire, David Luiz scoring his first goal for the club to raise hope of a leisure Sunday afternoon stroll for Unai Emery’s men.

David Luiz heads home in the ninth minute with his first goal for the Gunners after early pressure from the hosts

David Luiz heads home in the ninth minute with his first goal for the Gunners after early pressure from the hosts

The Brazilian centre-back celebrates his header at the Emirates Stadium in front of the Arsenal fans

The Brazilian centre-back celebrates his header at the Emirates Stadium in front of the Arsenal fans

But this was anything but. Instead anyone with Arsenal tenancies were endured a wholly uncomfortable 80 or so minutes.

Such pessimism is warranted, of course. This Arsenal team’s soft centre has been exposed time, after time, after time.

Yet on this occasion their much-maligned defence stood firm against a Bournemouth team who will feel they were worth at least a point to secure victory and only their second Premier League clean sheet of the season.

This isn’t an Arsenal back-four that will be as finely remembered as others in the club’s history.

But on this occasion they deserve credit – because God knows they’ve had their fair share of criticism.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired narrowly wide with a curling effort that had Aaron Ramsdale praying for the best before Luiz’s red letter moment arrived.

Pepe had another frustrating afternoon in front of goal as he continues to search for his first strike from open play

Pepe had another frustrating afternoon in front of goal as he continues to search for his first strike from open play

Eddie Howe's side struggled to get into the game in the first half, with Arsenal throwing men forward

Eddie Howe’s side struggled to get into the game in the first half, with Arsenal throwing men forward

It was ever-so simple, Luiz easily rising above Callum Wilson, whose lapse in concentration, allowed the Brazilian to glance an inch-perfect header past the despairing Ramsdale.

That should have been the signal for a leisurely Arsenal saunter to three points.

Life isn’t so simple at for Emery at the moment, though. It wasn’t that Arsenal were made to sweat, because for the majority of the opening period they weren’t.

MATCH FACTS

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Leno 7; Chambers 7, Luiz 7.5, Sokratis 7, Kolasinac 7; Xhaka 6.5, Guendouzi 7; Pepe 6 (Martinelli 63, 6), Ceballos 5.5 (Willock 75), Saka 6.5 (Torreira 83); Aubameyang 6. 

Subs: Tierney, Maitland Niles, Holding, Martinez. Booked: Martinelli 

Bournemouth (4-4-2): Ramsdale 6; Stacey 6.5 (Francis 80), Steve Cook 6.5, Ake 6.5, Rico 6.5; Harry Wilson 6.5 (Danjuma 80), Lerma 6, Billing 6, King 6; Callum Wilson 6.5, Solanke 6 (Fraser 63, 6). 

Subs: Boruc, Surman Lewis Cook, Kelly. Booked: Billing, Stacey 

But every so often the shortcomings of this current Arsenal’s defence are exposed, as if to serve notice to Emery – and Arsenal supporters – that they are in for an uncomfortable ride.

The first moment to that affect arrived as early as the 18th minute, Dominic Solanke heading Diego Rico’s free kick wide.

The former Liverpool striker should have scored. Free header, deep inside Arsenal’s box – the sort of chance a Premier League striker should really gobble up.

How and why Solanke was allowed to manoeuvre himself into that position merely accentuates where Arsenal’s attempts to break into the top four this season are likely hinge.

Emery may look to the imminent Premier League returns of full backs Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney – who was named on the bench – from injury as reason to be optimistic for his shaky defence.

Pepe's penalty appeal after coming together with Diego Rico was waved away after VAR check in the first half

Pepe’s penalty appeal after coming together with Diego Rico was waved away after VAR check in the first half

Callum Wilson was a threat in the second half for the visitors but couldn't quite find the back of the net

Callum Wilson was a threat in the second half for the visitors but couldn’t quite find the back of the net

That may be the answer, of course. For now, though, Arsenal are negotiating games disaster may just be round the corner.

Had Nicolas Pepe’s attractive curling effort from the edge of the box found the top left corner then, perhaps, the second half wouldn’t have been as edgy as it was.

You’d have forgiven some fans for watching parts of the second half peering through the gaps in their hands.

An afternoon that promised to be enjoyable following Luiz’s early strike, simply wasn’t.

Callum Wilson ripped through the heart of Arsenal’s defence in the 51st minute before appearing to put Bouremouth’s equaliser on a plate for Josh King, only for Calum Chambers to muster a goal saving block.

Gabriel Martinelli was subbed on in the second half for his second Premier League appearance after impressing in midweek

Gabriel Martinelli was subbed on in the second half for his second Premier League appearance after impressing in midweek 

Bukayo Saka had another skillful performance on the left-wing before being substituted in the 83rd minute

Bukayo Saka had another skillful performance on the left-wing before being substituted in the 83rd minute 

It was a frustrating afternoon for the Cherries, who couldn't find a way through Arsenal's defence in the second half

It was a frustrating afternoon for the Cherries, who couldn’t find a way through Arsenal’s defence in the second half

Ryan Fraser (left) failed to make an impact when coming on as a substitute for the visitors in the second half

Ryan Fraser (left) failed to make an impact when coming on as a substitute for the visitors in the second half

Calum Chambers is quickly cementing his place as a potential starter for Arsenal with another good performance

Calum Chambers is quickly cementing his place as a potential starter for Arsenal with another good performance 

Five minutes later Jack Stacey’s effort from Harry Wilson’s cross was tipped over the bar from Bernd Leno as Bournemouth sensed an equaliser.

Given how the Gunners have defended at various junctures this season, you sensed it was a matter of when rather than if the Cherries would score.

But credit to Arsenal’s defence, they displayed a cohesion and tenacity that will have Emery hoping for better days at the back.

Yet, they were still indebted to Matteo Guendouzi’s heroic last ditch challenge in the 89th minute to prevent King from scoring a late leveller following good work Arnaut Danjuma.

So, 1-0 to the Arsenal – where have we heard that before?

 

Original article: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-7543233/Arsenal-1-0-Bournemouth-David-Luiz-club-goal-sour-Cherries-visit-Emirates.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490

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