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

From all of Arsenal’s 1-0 victories – and there’s been a few – this was by no means the most assured.

By the time Martin Atkinson had blown for full-time, you’d half forgotten the Gunners had beaten Bournemouth.

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

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

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

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

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

Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka (middle) jumps for joy into goalscorer David Luiz in early first-half celebrations at the Emirates

Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka (middle) jumps for joy into goalscorer David Luiz in early first-half celebrations at the Emirates

The whole Arsenal team pile on David Luiz after he scored his first goal for the North London club

The whole Arsenal team pile on David Luiz after he scored his first goal for the North London club

Not that Unai Emery was too that bothered on Sunday night. Third in the table going into the international break – not bad for a club that were in the midst of a ‘crisis’ after conceding a 2-0 goal lead to draw at Watford last month.

In fact, Arsenal have lost just once all season – a 3-1 loss at title favourites Liverpool.

We’ve been here before, of course. Last season’s 22-match unbeaten run had everyone asking Arsene who?

Come May, another season of Europa League football was on the horizon.

With that in mind, you’d forgive supporters for reserving judgement this time around. But after their first home Premier League clean sheet of the season there are reasons for optimism. 

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 Bournemouth side struggled to get into the game in the first half, with Arsenal throwing men forward

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

MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS

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 not used: Tierney, Maitland Niles, Holding, Martinez. 

Goals: Luiz (9) 

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 not used: Boruc, Surman Lewis Cook, Kelly. 

Booked: Billing, Stacey  

They started like a house on fire, David Luiz scoring his first goal for the club to raise hope of a leisurely Sunday stroll.

But this was anything but – the only moment anyone with Arsenal tendencies would have enjoyed about the 80 minutes after Luiz’s goal was the final whistle.

Such pessimism is warranted, unfortunately. Arsenal’s soft centre has been exposed time, after time, after time.

On this occasion, though, their much-maligned defence stood firm against a Bournemouth team who felt they were worth at least a point.

This isn’t an Arsenal back-four that can be compared to the legendary defences that have graced the red half of north London.

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

‘Going third in the table was our objective today – and for our confidence,’ said Emery.

‘It’s important for the team. We didn’t want to feel the pressure of (going third) and maybe in second half we felt that pressure.

‘But we can remember today and improve with that spirit we showed.’ 

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

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

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

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

The Gunners begun at a rapid pace, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired narrowly wide in the sixth minute before Luiz’s red letter moment arrived.

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

That should have been the signal for Arsenal to saunter home.

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

But every so often their defensive shortcomings are horribly 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 in the 18th minute, Dominic Solanke heading Diego Rico’s free kick narrowly wide.

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

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 (left) had another skillful performance on the left-wing before being substituted in the 83rd minute by Emery

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

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

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

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

They may be the answer, of course. For now, though, Arsenal are negotiating matches with the fear that disaster may be just 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.

Instead, some fans had to watch the second half through the gaps in their hands. So much for a stress-free Sunday.

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

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. 

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 

An Arsenal fan, dressed in full kit, pitch invades in the middle of the second half before taking his top off and belly flopping

An Arsenal fan, dressed in full kit, pitch invades in the middle of the second half before taking his top off and belly flopping

Given how the Gunners have defended at various junctures this season, you sensed it was a matter of when 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 – we’ve not heard that much recently.

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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