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Welbeck Shines as Gunners Return to Winning Ways

Arsenal 3-0 Bournemouth

Match ReportMatch HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

The two week break after the international window was very long and we couldn’t wait for the game to right all the wrongs of the last two defeats. The performances against Stoke and Liverpool were shameful to say the least and with the transfer window closed, it was time to focus on the football.

The biggest decision from a selection perspective was the manager’s decision to select Danny Welbeck ahead of Alexis Sanchez, with Alexandre Lacazette, but it was refreshing seeing Sead Kolasinac and Hector Bellerin playing in their preferred positions. In the wake of all that had happened in recent weeks, an early goal was required to settle the nerves and Arsenal got it when Kolasinac connected well with Aaron Ramsey on the left flank before lofting a cross that was guided into the net by Welbeck. I’d say ‘guided’ because Welbeck attempted to use his head but the ball somehow found its way to his shoulders before creeping into the net.

Even though the match opener was somewhat messy, the second goal of the game was a brilliant show of technique as Arsenal’s record signing, Lacazette, latched onto Welbeck’s pass before curling the ball past Asmir Begovic. The Gunners put the game beyond doubt early in the second half when Lacazette won the ball further up the pitch and Ramsey bore down on goal before teeing up Welbeck. As always, the Englishman couldn’t keep his feet on the ground but his finish was emphatic to say the least.

Bournemouth didn’t offer any real threat bar the Jermaine Defoe header that clipped the post with his follow through going wide. There was also a looped header that was tipped over the bar by Petr Cech.

Getting back to winning ways was a huge positive ahead of the next league clash against Chelsea which will be a test of these guys character. The only dark cloud was the hamstring injury suffered by Francis Coquelin, that was certainly one of the players that would have played against FC Cologne on Thursday.

The good times are back and only positive results on the pitch will go a long way to appease the fans.

Sayonara.

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Gunners Return to Winning Ways as Title Race Twists Another Twist

Ozil Bournemouth

Bournemouth 0-2 Arsenal (Ozil 23′, Oxlade-Chamberlain 24′)

Match ReportMatch HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

To be honest, I didn’t see Leicester City walking away from the Etihad Stadium with all three points. That sent shock waves in the Premier League world, and for Arsenal fan, it made the game against Bournemouth an all-important fixtures. Before kickoff, Arsene Wenger’s men were eight points behind the league leaders so anything less than three points at the Vitality Stadium would have doused the title challenging flames.

As for the starting lineup, the boss retained Gabriel Paulista in center half ahead of Per Mertesacker but the Ox was favored ahead of Joel Campbell, as Theo Walcott continued from the dugout. The biggest surprise was seeing Mathieu Flamini retain his place ahead of Francis Coquelin and according to the manager, the elder Frenchman was in better form.

With minutes barely gone, Flamini was lucky to remain on the pitch when he execute a very rash challenge but the referee was in lenient mode, brandishing the yellow card for his troubles. It was end to end stuff as the Cherries tried a couple of half chances but Arsenal broke their goalscoring duck when Mesut Ozil responded quickly to blast in a loose ball with his right lace-less boots. Within seconds of the restart, Arsenal launched a swift counter attack with Aaron Ramsey providing the final ball to the Ox and he fired the ball towards the upright and it deflected in. For those that didn’t know, that was his first Premier League away goal in Arsenal colors.

After the two-goal salvo, the game more or less evened up with the Gunners taking their foot off the pedal. Bournemouth had some hunger in them but Arsenal had Petr Cech to thank for a flurry of saves to keep the clean sheet intact. With Tottenham managing to get a win over Watford, next weekend will be pivotal in the destination of the Premier League title, with Arsenal hosting Leicester and Manchester City welcoming Spurs to the Etihad.

Till then, it’s good to return back to winning ways after such a poor run of form.

Sayonara

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Benik Afobe: Would He Have Been a Hit at Arsenal?

 

This weekend Arsenal would visit the Vitality Stadium to take on Bournemouth in their bid to resurrect their fading title challenge. With three points from a possible 12, Arsene Wenger’s side has been in terrible form and it’s even more scary bearing in mind that their fellow title rivals, Leicester, Man City and Tottenham are picking points.

The game would be a rather interesting one for new Bournemouth signing, Benik Afobe, that has settled into life at the big time with three strikes in three games. Speaking in a recent interview, Afobe has shown some sort of ‘regret’ in his time at Arsenal,

“Would I have scored goals for Arsenal given the chance? I believe I would have. But I don’t hold any grudges. I’m in the Premier League now and scoring — I’m happy.

“It would be nice to make it four out of four against Arsenal. I’ve got a lot to thank them for but there will be no friends on Sunday.”

Afobe joined the Gunners when he was six and proved his goalscoring process at youth level for the Gunners. Afobe was just 14 when he scored a whopping 40 goals for the Arsenal Under-16s in the 2007/08 season. When he moved up to the Under-18 squad, he continued his goalscoring exploits at that level, scoring 11 goals in 13 games in the 2008/09 season and 21 goals in 24 games in the 2009/10 season.

His progress was monitoring by Arsene Wenger and he made his first appearance for the Gunners, aged 18,  in the 2011 Emirates Cup. It was a bitter sweet moment for the lad as he came on for Jack Wilshere early in the first half, only to suffer a groin injury in the second half of the same game. That turned out to be a serious injury for the lad as he missed up to six months. With Robin van Persie leaving the club in the 2012/13 season, Wenger fielded Afobe in a couple of preseason fixtures but he suffered a cruciate ligament injury that more or less called time on his Arsenal career.

After he made his recovery, the Gunners sent him out on loan to Milton Keynes Dons (the sixth club he was loaned to) and that’s when Afobe had a new lease of life. The forward scored 19 goals in 30 games for the Dons, including a brace against Manchester United when they ran out as shock 4-0 winners. While at MK Dons, Wolverhampton Wanderers offered the Gunners £2 million for his services and Arsenal cashed in on the lad. He continued his good form for Wolves, scoring 13 goals and with his 31 strikes that season, he was the highest goalscorer in England, beating the likes of Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane.

This season Afobe continued his good form with Wolves, scoring 10 goals for the Championship outfit but Bournemouth swooped for the lad with a club record, £10 million fee, and he has proved to be worth the outlay.

Would Afobe had been a hit if he was still at Arsenal? I believe so. He is pacey, powerful and had a good finishing ability. With the creativity at Arsenal’s disposal, having an agile forward like Afobe would have been a major plus because we could have played to his strengths. In Walcott, Arsenal has their own speed merchant in attack but the Englishman continues to divide opinion and he doesn’t really have that power to match his pace. Walcott remains the best finisher at the club (despite his poor run of form) but he’s one player you would hope to be in a one-on-one situation.

Afobe may have regrets about his time with the Gunners but that’s the harsh reality of the beautiful game. It’s going to be interesting to see if he would celebrate against the Gunners if he scores but I’m here hoping he doesn’t.

Sayonara.

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