Solid and encouraging performance in this 1-1 draw at Bournemouth.
Arsenal could have won three precious points if Lacazette had his shooting boots on and Nelson and Saka crosses were reasonable.
The first half hour Arsenal dominated possession with more energy to their play than of late. There was plenty of good approach play – with Ozil finding space in the pockets. And Arsenal won the ball back faster than in the recent past.
The team made the pitch wider with Nelson hugging the right side and at times Aubameyang on the left, with Maitland Niles at time moving inside, as did Saka on the left. Nelson, who had a poor game and didn’t act as a surrogate striker, moving inside when Aubameyang was on the wing. Torriera played well – with important tackles and interceptions.
After some Arsenal probing and a misplaced Saka cross, Wilson found Fraser in the Arenal area forcing Leno to save low down on the left. But Ozil driving forward set up Lacazette who drove into the Bournemouth area but managed to get the ball stuck under his feet. The Frenchman needs a goal to lift his confidence and reaction speed.
Ozil found another pocket of space and sent a ball to Saka who fired another nothing ball in.
Nelson and Ozil then combined with a one two but Lacazette’s shot went over.
Bournemouth replied with the same combination – Fraser lobbed to Wilson, who volleyed over.
But Arsenal kept creating chances – seven in all in the first half – but none were on target.
But they also kept playing out from the back in tight situations with Bournemouth players in close attendance. Longer balls to Aubameyang and Nelson with the Bournemouth back-line playing fairly high could have brought dividends. But ingrained habits die hard, and Saka, who generally did a good job in an unfamiliar position, lost the ball as Stacey dove down the left finding the onrushing Gosling who fired home from close range.
It was a case of that familiar Arsenal away feeling – dominating possession prior to conceding.
Not much changed after half-time. Arsenal came out and slowly probed rather than passing faster with intense running off the ball.
And the same things happened. Nelson and Saka continued to fire in poor crosses. Lacazette and Aubameyang had shots blocked. Xhaka and Nelson lost the ball in quick turnovers – leading to dangerous attacks. And Torriera and Sokratis performed well with blocks and tackles.
Ozil found Aubameyang in space and the Gabonese curled it just over. But when a Nelson pass/shot deflected into his path, he instinctively drove it home.
The momentum was now with the Arsenal. Luiz set Lacazette through one on one, but last- ditch defence saw the ball deflected wide. And then the Frenchman drove dangerously into the Bournemouth area and found Willock who shot tamely into the hands of Ramsdale.
The performance was summed up by the fact that Arsenal had 17 shots but only 2 on target.
Arsenal captain Aubameyang said: “We missed a lot of chances. Should have got the 3 points today. The attitude of boys was great. We have to improve on our chances. We want to continue the same engagement – and try to play and respect our plan.”
Asked whether things had gone to plan, he said: “Yes, we fulfilled Mikel’s aims. Everyone worked hard.”
Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta said: “A lot of things we practiced happened in the game. We had enough chances to put it to bed.
“We have some areas like when to make decisions – when the picture is clear or not. We had attitude, desire, creation and commitment. The Attitude was terrific. We tried to put some things in practice. The majority were good. We have to find solutions to counter-attack and defend better.”
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe said: “The high press is something we always do. They played well – the result could have gone either way. We went too deep in second half and let them closer to our goal.”
Bournemouth: Ramsdale, Stacey, Cook, Mepham (Booked 84), Simpson, Fraser, L Cook Booked at 85),Lerma (Booked 53), Gosling (Substituted for Billing at 70), King (Substituted for H Wilsonat 66)C Wilson (Booked 90)
Arsenal: Leno, Maitland-Niles (Booked 55), Papastathopoulos (Substituted for Mustafi 77),David Luiz, Saka, Torreira Booked 54), Xhaka, Nelson (Substituted for Pépé 82), Özil (Substituted for Willock 75)
Aubameyang (Booked 64), Lacazette (Booked 90)