Bournemouth 1-2 Arsenal: Youngsters Lead the Way
Final Result: Bournemouth 1-2 Arsenal
Goal Scorers: Bournemouth (Surridge 90+4′), Arsenal (Saka 5′, Nketiah 26′)
Arsenal XI (subs) (4-2-3-1): Martinez; Bellerin (c), Mustafi (Holding 62′), Sokratis, Saka; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Martinelli, Willock (Maitland-Niles 90′), Pepe (Ceballos 69′); Nketiah
Bournemouth hosted Arsenal on a cold Monday night with the lineup I predicted not far off from what Mikel Arteta selected. Eddie Howe’s side is in a poor vein of form going into this game and Bournemouth is currently languishing in 18th, flirting with relegation. Arsenal has problems of their own but when it comes to Cup football, form goes out of the window because it’s the result on the night that matters.
It was good to see the Gunners firing from the kickoff with Bukayo Saka receiving a carefully threaded ball from Gabriel Martinelli and unleashing a surface-to-goal piledriver that smashed the underside of the bar and into the net. That was Saka’s third goal of the season, and to see him score such a brilliant goal while playing as a left back was a pleasurable sight. Arsenal head coach, Mikel Arteta, had some good words about Saka in his post-match press conference.
Arsenal continued to pummel the Bournemouth defense with Hector Bellerin feeding Joe Willock on the edge of the area. The young midfielder used his upper body strength to shove off his marker and managed to release a shot but the angle was too tight, allowing Travers to make a decent save. That didn’t matter to the Gunners as they went two goals up thanks to Eddie Nketiah. After some intricate passing play in midfield, Saka drilled a cross into the heart of the Bournemouth defense and the ball evaded Martinelli, but Nketiah was on hand to side foot the ball home, sending Travers the wrong. It’s moments like this that shows the manager’s vision for his team as he made it clear that Nketiah was not going anywhere else following the torrid spell at Leeds.
Bournemouth was losing quite alright but they were not going to sleep over and play dead, as Liverpool loanee, Harry Wilson, was unmarked at the far post and showed off his good technique in firing the ball at the Arsenal goal first time, but Emi Martinez reacted well to make a good save. Martinez wasn’t too impressive for one of the corners as he found himself in No Man’s Land but the Bournemouth’s defenders header went wide off the mark.
Dan Gosling tried an attempt from quite some distance with the ball deflecting off Holding and over the bar. Speaking of Holding, I had expected him to start the game but Arteta opted for Skhodran Mustafi instead. Sadly, Mustafi got injured and had to be stretched out of the field, which was not a good sight. This injury adds more pressure on the club to sign a defender as the ones we have are just dropping like flies. But with reports of the Pablo Mari deal is on the brink of collapsing, it makes you wonder.
Bournemouth finally got what their efforts deserved when Simon Francis’ cross into the Arsenal box reached Sam Surridge’s feet and the young forward passed the ball into the net with Martinez flat footed. However, it was too little, too late for Bournemouth.
Arsenal’s reward for the victory against Bournemouth is a trip to Fratton Park to play League One outfit, Portsmouth in the Round of 16.
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