Daily Archives: March 5, 2023
Arsenal 3-2 Bournemouth: Inspired Subs Send Arsenal to Euphoria
Match Report – Match Highlights – Post-Match Press Conference
Final Result: Arsenal 3-2 Bournemouth (Partey 63′, White 70′, Nelson 96′ | Billing 1′, Senesi 57′)
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; Tomiyasu (White 46′), Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Partey, F. Vieira (Xhaka 84′); Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Trossard (Smith-Rowe 22′ – Nelson 69′)
In my match preview of the Bournemouth game, the only change I expected was Thomas Partey coming on for Jorginho, as he was fully fit and the Italian midfielder still recovering from an illness, but the manager shuffled his pack further with Takehiro Tomiyasu coming on for Ben White and Fabio Vieira making a rare start ahead of Granit Xhaka.
However, Arsenal had a nightmare start to the game when Bournemouth got in on the scoring act right from kickoff, as Dominic Solanke worked the ball to Ouattara Dango and swung in a deep cross that was missed by Gabriel, and with William Saliba unaware of Philip Billings presence, the lanky midfielder drifted into the box and smashed it past Aaron Ramsdale. That goal was scored in the frigging 10th second of the game, and has been recorded as the second fastest strike in Premier League history, behind Shane Long’s 7.69 second goal against Watford in Vicarage Road four years ago.
That wasn’t the start anyone at the Emirates expected, but that’s football for you. Arsenal responded swiftly when Martin Odegaard won possession further up the pitch, shimmied past his marker and drilled a low drive that was going to Neto’s far corner, but the experienced Bournemouth keeper dived to make a smart stop. Bukayo Saka was quick to pounce on the rebound but Neto was on hand to make another save.
With Arsenal on the ascendancy, there was always the potential of leaving things open at the back, and this was exploited by a swift Bournemouth counter attack. Billing cushioned a ball at the edge of the area for Solanke and Ouattara, with the latter blasting the shot at goal, but Ramsdale made himself big to execute a huge important save. Arsenal’s misery was compounded when Emile Smith-Rowe came onto the pitch to replace Leandro Trossard that was clearly in some discomfort. One can only hope it’s not a long term injury, with the games coming thick and fast, and Arsenal not really stacked in that position – Gabriel Jesus isn’t close to full fitness and Eddie Nketiah suffered a knock.
Following a poor clearance from Saliba, Billing, who was in the heart of every good from an attacking perspective for Bournemouth, showed quick thinking to tee up Solanke on the break, but the forward’s attempt on goal was poor to say the least. At half time, there was some form of disbelief at the Emirates, as the Gunners were losing to the team in 19th place on the table, and the visitors had the better chances, while Arsenal had all the possession and didn’t do anything meaningful with the ball. There was also the added pressure that Manchester City had won Newcastle at the lunch time kickoff, reducing the gap to two points before the game against Bournemouth started.
At the start of the second half, Arteta summoned Ben White to replace Tomiyasu, to add some impetus to the Arsenal attack. Things got from bad to worse for Arsenal when Marco Senesi evaded Partey to head home Joe Rothwell’s corner to make it 2-0 to Bournemouth. The Emirates crowd did what they could to support the team, while Arteta called for calm. This was not a good situation to be in.
Saka worked well with White on the right flank and drilled a cross towards Martinelli, but Stephens was on hand to send the ball to Row Z. He also had the element of luck with him, because it could easily have been an own goal. Saka swung in the ball from the resulting corner and it was punched by Neto. Smith-Rowe showed good awareness and nodded the ball back to the danger area, and it was attacked by Partey to make it 2-1. The Ghanaian had a tribute on his shirt to his compatriot, Christian Atsu, that sadly lost his life in the Syria – Turkey earthquakes.
At 2-1, a comeback seemed to be on the cards, but Arsenal had their excellent goalie to thank again for keeping the score line intact, as Rothwell found Solanke on the edge of the box and his low drive to the near post was saved by Ramsdale. Arteta noticed that Smith-Rowe was still struggling, and replaced him with Reiss Nelson, which turned out to be a masterclass from the Arsenal gaffer. Within moments of Nelson’s arrival, the winger latched onto the ball on the left hand side and scooped a cross that was smashed in by White but Neto made a save, however, all of the ball had passed the ball, so the goal line technology did its thing and the goal was awarded. In a game were VAR failed to work with Bournemouth getting away with murder in their box with all Arsenal penalty attempts refuted, GLT came through.
The turnaround was almost complete when Saka showed good movement on the byline and blasted a cross that ricocheted off Stephens to the post, and Bournemouth got away with that, much to the despair of the Arsenal crowd. Martinelli was sent clean on goal and used his pace to evade his marker but his shot was launched into orbit. It was looking like that kind of day. 2-2 was a good comeback, but everyone associated with Arsenal knew that it was a deflating result.
Right at the death, Oleksandr Zinchenko blasted a goal-bound shot that was deflected for a corner. Saka swung in Arsenal’s 17th corner on the day and it was cleared away by a Bournemouth defender and fell kindly to Nelson, who didn’t need a second invitation to blast the ball with his left boot. Time stood still as his shot went past Stephens, then past Neto in the Bournemouth goal, to send the entire Emirates Stadium into rapture. The entire substitutes stormed into the pitch to celebrate the massive goal, Mikel Arteta went into bonkers, the collective screams at the Emirates could be heard on the dark side of the Moon. It was truly magical.
To be part of what this season has produced, and write about it regularly has been one of the best things of my life. You can’t imagine the emotions I’m going through, knowing that the potential really exists for my love, Arsenal, to bring back home the Premier League after 19 years. This season, we have seen the goals come in with regularity from the likes of Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli while forwards like Nketiah and Jesus aren’t far behind, but today, Partey scored his first goal since that stunner at the North London Derby, White scored his first ever Arsenal goal since his 50 million quid move from Brighton, and the forgotten Nelson pops up after a long injury layoff to win the game for his club. You can’t make this shit up.
We can bask in the euphoria of this win, then settle and prepare for Europa League business against Sporting Lisbon.
Congratulations to all the Arsenal fans that have been part of this adventure. I must say, it’s been a ride!
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