Arsenal were made to work hard for all three points against high-flying Bournemouth. With a tricky looking fixture list, three points were vital in the Gunners' quest for the top four.
Unai Emery set his side up in a 3-4-3 shape for the visit to the south coast, and there were a few notable absences in the Gunners’ starting XI.
Mesut Ozil was named on the bench, whilst forward Alexandre Lacazette was ruled out with a groin injury. Nacho Monreal also missed out after failing to recover from a hamstring injury, which possibly influenced Arsenal’s change in formation.
Monreal’s deputy, Saed Kolasinac, is regarded as more of a wing-back than a full back, and his qualities going forward were on display against the Cherries, playing a part in both of Arsenal’s goals.
From the first whistle is was apparent that Arsenal would have to battle. Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth have had a fantastic start to the season, finding themselves in seventh place at the time of kick off. The hosts started brightly, and would’ve taken the lead through David Brooks, but his effort was deemed offside by the linesman.
Moments later Joshua King was sent through one on one, but once again the linesman's flag would deny Bournemouth an opportunity to open the scoring.
Slow starts have been a feature of Arsenal’s campaign thus far, scoring the majority of their goals in the second halves of games. However, they steadily grew into the first half and inside the half hour mark broke the deadlock.
After receiving the ball from Lucas Torreira, who had earlier struck the woodwork, Alex Iwobi fed the ball into Kolasinac. The marauding wing back then cut the ball back toward Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but instead, it would be Bournemouth’s Jefferson Lerma to apply the finishing touch. In an attempt to intercept the pass, the Colombian international steered ball beyond a helpless Asmir Begovic, a quite spectacular own goal which put the visitors in front.
It was a deserved goal for Arsenal, albeit somewhat fortuitous, Emery’s men had steadily improved and now had a goal to show for their efforts.
However, it was soon a familiar story for the Gunners as right on the stroke of half-time they were pegged back.
After good work down the left by Callum Wilson, the newly capped Englishman played the ball to Brooks. He then found King in the box and his first time left-footed strike flew into the top corner of Bernd Leno’s goal.
Once again, Arsenal failed to go into the half time break leading a Premier League fixture.
Gunners switch gears
Despite a late sting in the tail in the first half, Arsenal came out full of confidence in the second.
Emery’s men looked particularly dangerous on the counter-attack and could’ve notched a few goals but for Mkhitaryan’s inconsistent touches in the final third. The Armenian turned provider for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang inside the 64th minute, but the 29-year-old’s shot flew harmlessly over the bar.
The Gunners enjoyed the lion share of possession and were carefully crafting chances, and when presented with another opportunity minutes later, Aubameyang did not disappoint. A clever reverse pass from Iwobi picked out Kolasinac in the Bournemouth box, his cut back found Aubameyang who couldn’t miss from point-blank range. The Gabonese international now has eight goals in 13 appearances, level with Sergio Aguero as the top scorer in the league.
Arsenal had regained the lead and threatened to extend it. The heavily involved Kolasinac once again found himself in the box, after receiving a pass from Rob Holding, his deft touch set up a shooting opportunity but he could only find the side netting from a narrow-angle.
It seemed the north Londoners were set to cruise to victory, but Bournemouth had the chance to score a late equaliser from a free kick on the edge of the Arsenal box. With what was quite literally the last kick of the game, Junior Stanislas fired the free kick over the bar, ensuring all three points for Arsenal.
An important victory for the Gunners, whose next two fixtures in the league see them host local rivals Tottenham Hotspur, and head up to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United.