The Independent London Newspaper
17th December 2018

Sanchez is the star man again as Arsenal beat battling Bournemouth

    Published: 28 November, 2016
    By RICHARD OSLEY at EMIRATES STADIUM

    FA Premier League
    Arsenal 3, AFC Bournemouth 1

    ARSENAL got the job done against Bournemouth here this afternoon (Sunday), without really making an autumn statement about their championship ambitions. They created a wealth of openings and deserved to win, but it would not have been a total surprise if their spirited visitors, full of pace and positivity, had earned a point from what turned out to be a decent contest between two teams loyal to a passing game.

    In the end, the difference between the two sides was the Gunners’ almost exclusive reliance on Alexis Sanchez, who sometimes appeared to be working fifty percent harder than any other player on the pitch. He was central to everything Arsenal did: one moment he was on the halfway line collecting the ball, the next he was twisting and turning on the edge of the box rooting out half-chances. Some of the other players almost looked like spectators by comparison. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott were particularly ineffective for large parts, even though the latter scored an important goal at the start of the second half.

    With contract negotiations ahead for the club’s standout player, Wenger was asked whether Sanchez was “adding a zero” to his future salary with every performance. The manager looked a little sheepish: “We don’t decide that tonight. But you always want us to spend more money, so you should be happy.”

    The Chilean, looking at what could be his final big football payday when he signs his next contract, might be able to name his price after matches like this. It’s not a stretch to imagine that this match would have dwindled into a draw without him.

    He opened the scoring on 12 minutes after spooking Bournemouth defender Steve Cook as the ball was rolled out to him by keeper Adam Federici. Cook tried to return it from where it had come but underhit the back pass and Sanchez pounced to score.

    Bournemouth are full of good ideas, however, and reacted well. Arsenal, who lost Mathieu Debuchy a quarter of an hour into his comeback through injury, were taken on man for man.  Callum Wilson was a constant headache for the rejigged back four. A clumsy challenge on the Cherries striker from Nacho Monreal conceded an equalising penalty, converted by Wilson himself.

    It was a lively second half of the first half, during which both teams might have made of their possession  and Arsenal thought they had merited a penalty of their when Sanchez went down in a squeeze with Nathan Ake, the Chelsea defender loaned to the seasiders. The break was ushered in by Sanchez wobbling the crossbar with a close range shot.

    Walcott popped up with his only real contribution eight minutes into the second hand, scoring with a rare header. A deflected cross had fallen fortuitously to Monreal who lobbed the ball back across goal leaving Federici unable to cover the back post where Walcott was waiting to complete the simplest of tasks. He celebrated with the baby rock dance, toasting the recent arrival of his second son.

    Still Bournemouth did not capitulate, even if they lived dangerously against Arsenal’s pacey counter attacks. Benik Afobe, an Arsenal graduate now playing at No. 9 for Bournemouth, went closest to an equaliser when he stabbed a corner goalwards only to be denied by Petr Cech’s legs. There was a shout for a penalty too when Monreal clearly handled in the area but it was ruled unintentional. In the last ten minutes, the game fizzled out. Bournemouth having fought hard suddenly looked tired and temperamental and nobody was tracking Sanchez when he arrived in the box in the final minute to pass Giroud’s cross into the net for a more flattering scoreline.

    “Sanchez, even when he looks dead, he comes alive,” said Wenger afterwards. “He wins the ball back and does something special. He always goes  up the gears.”

    He added: “Bournemouth was not the team I would have chosen to play after the Champions League match we had in midweek. They are a tricky side who keep the ball. I felt we started well but when they equalised we became nervous. The fact we’ve just had three draws played on their minds.”

    Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe declared the final score as “harsh”, adding: “We didn’t go under after giving them a goal and there was very little between the two teams in the end.“

    ARSENAL: Cech - Debuchy (Gabriel 15), Monreal, Koscielny ©, Mustafi - Elneny, Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Giroud 75), Ozil, Walcott (Ramsey 75) - Sanchez
    SUBS NOT USED: Iwobi, Ospina, Coquelin, Gibbs,

    Atttendence: 59, 978

     

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