Bournemouth 3 Arsenal 3
Bournemouth are 9th and over-achieving.
Arsenal are 4th and under-achieving.
Early on, when Arsenal were passing slowly sideways, I was starting to lapse into a coma by the time a thumping shot by Junior Stanislas hit Petr Cech in the stomach.
I often find Arsenal’s style painful to watch because they are so totally progammed, so predictable, so robotic.They don’t know how to mix it up.
After 10 minutes I said, “This is so boring it’s making my eyes bleed.”
After 16, Bournemouth did what Arsenal should have done.
THEY MIXED IT UP.
Junior Stanislas hit a raking pass out to left back Charlie Daniels in 40 yards of space.
Bellerin was all at sea as the left back stepped inside him and blasted his shot past Cech.
Bournemouth 1 Arsenal 0
Four minutes later, Arsenal’s defending got even worse.
Xhaka, the rashest player in football (apart from Fernandinho), shoved down Ryan Fraser in the box. He didn’t need to push him.
About 400,000 gooners, watching wordwide, shouted “What an idiot!.”
Callum Wilson sent Cech the wrong way and it was 2-0 in 20 minutes.
Bournemouth were brisk and tidy, mixing short passes with longer ones.
The game looked over because Arsenal were so abysmal.
From the other sofa, Mrs Palmer said, “They’re overwhelmed. It’s like a tidal wave, a tsunami.”
I’ve felt for a long time that Koscielny and Sanchez are wasting the best years of their careers, that they should join a top team, play for a younger manager who can do tactics, who can teach defence, who can galvanise a dressing room.
HT score : 2-0
The first goal should feature on a coaching DVD: How Not To Defend.
The second should be on another coaching DVD: Things That Midfielders Should Never Do. Never push a player in the box as you would when he’s on the halfway line or 35 yards from your goal.
Why were Arsenal so bad? Because they can’t adapt to playing again two days later? If they could mix it up by playing some longer passes, they could save their legs.
Not a game of two halves, more like a game of three thirds.
And Howe’s boys won the first two thirds
Bournemouth went 3-0 up in 58, after Ryan Fraser pushed Bellerin over and scored from a narrow angle with a shot that went between Cech’s legs.
Oxlade, on for Iwobi, made a fine tackle on Fraser to prevent 4-0.
When Koscielny had to go off with cramp, it looked all over.
Then Alexis Sanchez got a goal back with a diving header in 70.
Oxlade crossed, the crafty Giroud let the ball bounce off his back and fly towards Sanchez, who threw himself forward and headed in for 3-1.
In 75, Giroud flicked on a ball to Lucas Perez hit a fantastic left-foot volley that made it 3-2.
Then big skipper Simon Francis made an agricultural challenge on Ramsey and ref Michael Oliver sent him off and after 90 minutes it was still 3-2.
Then Xhaka crossed in 91 and Giroud got up for a glancing header that made it 3-3.
So Giroud, the hero once again, celebrated with a couple of mock scorpion kicks.
And why not? The bearded giant had provided a goal and two assists.
Eddie Howe said,”We wanted to make the game as quick as we could.We wanted to stop and disrupt their rhythm. I thought our players executed that perfectly.”
VERDICT : Good comeback. Arsenal scored three goals but dropped two points