It was pretty comfortable for the Arsenal in the end. Arsene Wenger’s embattled troops invited strugglers, Bournemouth, to their corner of North London—after an international break spent licking wounds and pointing fingers—surely the ideal fixture to get back on track. Especially following the absolute mauling dealt them by Liverpool right before the adjournment.
Well, it should have been, but there are no ‘ideal’ fixtures for Arsenal at the moment. With three games of the season gone (up until this weekend’s fixtures), the pressure was already on and it was nobody’s fault but Arsenal’s.
Then, when Welbeck converted a difficult header to put Arsenal ahead after six minutes, the sense of relief was palpable. A bustling run from Kolašinac and a fine ball in…Welbeck wasn’t going to let a chance like that go begging.
Was this it, then? The clichéd awakening of a wounded giant? Not particularly, although they managed another before half time when Lacazette—obviously aggrieved after being dropped to the bench for that ill-fated trip to Merseyside—finished tidily from the edge of the Bournemouth box. His smart, smart link-up play with Welbeck in the build-up will have pleased Wenger, and his nifty footwork eased the pressure even further.
The visitors were not quite finished. Their most prolific striker, Jermain Defoe, hit the post, but such attacking efforts were short-lived. Welbeck, now enjoying himself immensely, found the net again early in the second half—securing his first ever brace for the Gunners and a desperately needed three points.
Arsenal finished the game with ten men after Francis Coquelin limped from the field with a tweaked hamstring. Eddy Howe’s men, however, never looked likely to capitalize on the advantage. The final result: 3-0 and a deserved scoreline.
So, a month down the line, Arsenal have finally managed the routine win they must have thought they were rolling towards when Lacazette opened the scoring against Leicester in the first minute of the season. That, of course, was followed by a swift jab (in the form of a 1-0 reverse at Stoke), and an absolute haymaker from Liverpool, which left the North London club flat-out on the canvas.
After regrouping over the break, though, Arsenal are back on their feet—albeit standing on shaky legs and looking nervously ahead to Sunday’s trip to Stamford Bridge. After a turbulent few weeks, this latest result will, undoubtedly, be a boon for Arsene Wenger; but they will need several more of these against stronger opposition (with respect to Bournemouth) before they can be classed as anything approaching a confident team.
Wenger must also be thinking about what other horrors await him and his players this season. As the clock ticked down towards showtime at The Emirates, an ebullient Manchester City were demolishing a shell-shocked Liverpool with a goal from Agüero and two each for Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus.
Liverpool may have spent the majority of the match without Sadio Mané, who saw red after a sickening clash with City keeper Ederson, but the message Manchester City sent out was a clear one: there are big guns in this league and it will take an exemplary defense to silence them.
There are many words which have been used to describe Arsenal’s defense this season—and exemplary is not one of them. Swept aside against Liverpool, and barely tested by the Cherries, this is a back line which will need to steel itself if it is to provide the sturdy foundation Arsenal’s forwards so dearly need.
For the moment, though, three points, three goals, and a clean sheet will do very nicely, indeed.