Final Whistle: Arsenal FC 3 – 1 AFC Bournemouth
*Arsenal FC Goal – 11′ Alexis Sánchez /
AFC Bournemouth defender Steve Cook made a silly back-pass mistake giving away an easy goal to Alexis Sánchez.
*AFC Bournemouth Goal – 22′ Callum Wilson, (p) /
Nacho Monreal and Callum Wilson went for the ball together in a seemingly fair shoulder-to-shoulder competition, but the referee Mike Jones awarded a penalty to Bournemouth: a truly stupid decision.
In the second half, things started to click.
*Arsenal FC Goal – 53′ Theo Walcott /
Theo Walcott scored a header by receiving a clinical cross from Nacho Monreal.
*Arsenal FC Goal – 90′ Alexis Sánchez /
Late in the game, Alexis scored another goal from a brilliant combination play with Olivier Giroud and Mesut Özil.
Overall: A better display of football in the second half and a satisfying win for the fans.
4-2-3-1 line-up: Striker:
Alexis once again came on as a striker. His form at the top has been great recently.
Walcott was selected on the right wing and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Ox) came on as the left winger replacing Alex Iwobi.
Mesut, as always, came out on the attacking midfield position.
Central (Defensive) Midfielders:
Two central (defensive) midfielders were Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny.
Two central defenders and the left full-back stayed the same as usual: Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal. But on the right full-back position, Mathieu Debuchy finally got his opportunity to start a game this season.
Unlike many other weaker sides, Bournemouth enjoys playing a high-pressure game against stronger teams. It could be very risky but it’s their own way of dealing with the opponents’ high possession.
[Arsenal’s Defense against Bournemouth Pressure]
Due to a high-line pressure from Bournemouth players, Arsenal lowered their line and stood in a 4-4-2 formation at defense.Alexis and Mesut stayed up front while Walcott and Ox came down to midfield in order to support the full-backs on each side.
*The 4-4-2 defense transformation was used constantly throughout this season. Because Alexis is a fast and strong striker who can self-create a goal, this new defensive tactic became very effective in counter-attack. Even with both wingers helping the defense down at midfield, Alexis alone can lead the ball into a quick transition up front.
From the midfield, Elneny alone went up for high-line pressure only when necessary.
[Arsenal’s Attack against Bournemouth Pressure]
When Arsenal gained the ball at defense, two central midfielders came down near the defense line to receive the ball. While both full-backs run forward, Xhaka and Elneny helped out Koscielny and Mustafi distribute the ball.
Due to Bournemouth’s style of play, Xhaka and Elneny could both attempt long-range passes more often into the vacant space behind their high-line defense. Xhaka and Elneny’s long passes were delivered onto the path of Arsenal’s speedy wingers plus the full-backs.With Xhaka and Elneny helping out the central defenders, Arsenal could utilize both full-backs at attack increasing the number of attackers to “six” instantly. Arsène Wenger‘s first plan in this game was to utilize the flank, leaving the Bournemouth defenders on their back foot.
Xhaka and Elneny took turns to bring the ball forward. When these two central duo were responsible for unfolding the attack, Mesut ran in deeper to stand next to Alexis.Mesut was always behind the ball to help out when other teammates were about to open up an attack.
Attackers with the ball, if they did not have a space to dribble inside, gave the ball to Mesut and ran into the box to receive the ball from him.
Then on the 14th minute, change to the original plan became inevitable. Debuchy was injured and had to get off the ground. There was no right full-back substitute on the sideline to replace Debuchy. Central defender Gabriel Paulista had to settle on the right.
Wenger’s plan of fully utilizing the full-backs on each side to maximize the efficiency of team’s counter-attack could not work anymore. Gabriel was not eligible for a forward-run tactic and he mostly stayed at defense rather than participating in the attacking procedure.
Arsenal, not being able to pull out a successive attack anymore, finished the half with the score at 1 – 1.
Enduring Bournemouth’s pressure well in the first half paid off in the second half. Bournemouth players were out of pace and could not press aggressively anymore like they did in the first half.
Wenger aimed into this directly. Arsenal stepped up to heighten the line and Mustafi received the “ball distribution” role at the back.
The two central midfielders now could run up right behind the attacking line to support the attack more actively.When Mesut was in possession of the ball, Elneny stood next to him in order to provide more attacking options.
Mustafi’s role in the second half became more essential than ever. He often started the attack and sometimes even ran up to the flank instead of Gabriel.
Gabriel surely lacked a lot in making an offensive run.That vacant space behind Özil should have been occupied by the right-full back, just like how Monreal is standing on the other side.
Wenger passed this role onto Mustafi instead.Mustafi, when he had the chance, ran all the way up to receive the ball on the side.When Mustafi left his position, Gabriel shifted to the center to cover for Mustafi.
Factors that brought the win:
- Bournemouth breaking down by themselves after falling out from their own pace (they committed too much in the first half)
- Arsenal effectively utilizing both flanks with a shift into six-men attack
These factors clicked well together to bring the game flow into Arsenal’s hand. As a result, Arsenal could secure three points at home.