Arsenal grind out victory, move up to third
David Luiz scored the only goal as Arsenal edged past Bournemouth at Emirates Stadium to move up to third in the Premier League.
Luiz glanced home Nicolas Pepe’s ninth-minute corner for his first goal since his summer arrival from Chelsea.
Bournemouth improved after the break and went close through Callum Wilson, but they rarely troubled Bernd Leno in the Arsenal goal.
The Gunners move above Leicester, Burnley and Crystal Palace with the win, while Bournemouth stay 10th.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went close in the opening stages and hit the post late on, but those opportunities bookended a game of few chances.
Bournemouth offered little as an attacking threat, but with Arsenal unable to kill the game off they were able to apply some pressure in the closing stages.
Only a last-ditch tackle from Matteo Guendouzi prevented Joshua King from converting a low cross by Callum Wilson, who also fired straight at Leno in stoppage time.
Though they were far from their best, a fourth win of the season means Arsenal go into the international break in the Champions League places having lost just once in eight league games.
But while Unai Emery must be pleased with the way his side battled to the win, he will know there is still room for improvement, with a failure to score a second goal meaning this game was a lot closer than it could have been after their first-half performance.
Emery’s side began brightly and went close inside the opening five minutes when Aubameyang fired just wide from the edge of the penalty area after good work by Dani Ceballos and Bukayo Saka.
They did not have to wait much longer to open the scoring, however, with Pepe’s corner from the right finding Luiz at the near post, and his flicked header went beyond Aaron Ramsdale into the far corner.
Arsenal thought they had decent claims for a penalty when Pepe went down under a challenge by Diego Rico, but Martin Atkinson waved away the appeals, with his decision upheld following a VAR check.
The Gunners then faded badly in the second half, though Emery cannot blame fatigue as his side showed 10 changes from the 4-0 Europa League victory over Standard Liege on Thursday.
Emery responded by bringing on 18-year-old Gabriel Martinelli for Pepe, who has just one goal in 10 appearances since his club record £72m signing move from Lille in the summer.
Martinelli, who scored two goals in Thursday’s win over Standard, showed flashes of quality and fired a curling effort over from just inside the area, but this was an attritional victory rather than one built on attacking flair.
Bournemouth have found little joy in games against Arsenal, taking just four points from eight meetings and losing all of their previous trips to the Emirates with an aggregate score of 13-2.
There were few positive signs for Cherries fans in the opening period here either, as they rarely threatened the Arsenal backline.
Bournemouth’s first opportunity was a Dominic Solanke header from a corner that went well wide, one of just two touches by a Cherries player in the Arsenal penalty area during the first 45 minutes.
To compound matters, Eddie Howe’s side also looked vulnerable from set-pieces, with Luiz easily able to escape his marker for the opening goal.
It means the south-coast club remain without a clean sheet this season and have just one shutout in their last 12 top-flight matches stretching back into the last campaign.
That will be of obvious concern to Howe, but he will at least be pleased with the reaction of his players after the break.
They had a decent opportunity early in the second half when Callum Wilson found himself in on goal, but the England striker was drawn wide after rounding Leno and Calum Chambers was able to clear his low cross at the far post with King lurking.
Leno then had to be alert to tip Jack Stacey’s cross-shot over the bar after a neat pass from Harry Wilson, while Philip Billing curled an effort wide from distance as Arsenal clung on.
That strong finish will be a positive to take away for the visitors, although Howe will wonder why it took his players 45 minutes to jolt into action.
Courtesy- BBC Online