Bournemouth 0 Arsenal 4: Gunners run riot on south coast to close gap on Man City to ONE POINT.. and even Havertz scored
THEY say that charity begins at home but for Kai Havertz it most definitely starts in Bournemouth.
The German international has cut a pretty forlorn figure since his £65million summer signing and was already in danger of being written off as an expensive failure by some Arsenal fans.
A series of underwhelming performances on the left of Mikel Arteta’s midfield had not exactly helped his confidence.
So when Arsenal were awarded a 53rd minute penalty to put this south coast stroll to bed, his new team-mates had no hesitation in presenting him with a gilt-edged opportunity to lift his spirits.
Martin Odegaard had already scored from the spot and Bukayo Saka had netted a couple more earlier in the season.
Arteta has always said he is happy for his players to sort these decisions out among themselves, but even he did not look too convinced when Saka handed the ball to Havertz.
But he need not have worried as the former Chelsea man stepped forward to coolly roll his shot beyond Bournemouth keeper Neto before being buried under a pile-on from his delirious team-mates,
And to be honest, it really wouldn’t have mattered if he had missed because this was so straightforward for the visitors that they barely had to get out of third gear to secure the points.
It is now five months since Bournemouth last won a League game and if Andoni Iraloa had been hoping for any favours from his Basque buddy Arteta he was to be sorely disappointed.
And the ease with which his team were brushed aside does not bode well for his long-term prospects.
No team won more Premier League points away from home than Arsenal last season and this win means they have taken maximum points from their three games on the road so far this time.
They are now unbeaten in 11 games in all competitions and have and have moved to within a point of Manchester City following the Champions’ shock defeat at Wolves.
Yet Arteta had spent the build-up to this game moaning about all the injuries his team had suffered and how eight of them had been unable to train.
But surprise, surprise, when his team sheet dropped it turned out that Saka, Declan Rice and William Saliba were all in the starting line-up while Leandro Trossard and Fabio Vieira were both OK to sit on the bench,
And any lingering doubts about Saliba were well and truly dispelled when he pulled off a magnificent sliding tackle to halt Dominic Solanke in his tracks.
It was during last season’s 3-0 win at the Vitality that the young French defender first showed us what he was all about with a five-star performance.
And it was also the first time we heard the ‘Tequila’ song from the Arsenal fans who haven’t stopped chanting his name ever since.
But even Saliba is no match for Saka when it comes to popularity with the supporters who worship the ground he walks on.
And the England superstar added a few thousand to more to his fan club when he headed his side into a 17th minute lead.
Odegaard’s deep cross was headed against the back post from the tightest of angles by Gabriel Jesus and when the ball rebounded across the face of goal, Saka could hardly miss from a yard out.
It was a real hammer blow for a Bournemouth side who were fortunate not to fall further behind when Oleksandr Zinchenko’s 25th minute thunderbolt was struck so powerfully that it knocked Neto off his feet.
But it was only a matter of time before Arsenal extended their lead and they effectively killed the game in the 44th minute with Odegaard’s penalty.
Zinchenko’s pass played Eddie Nketiah in behind Max Aarons and though the full-back argued that he had taken the ball with his thunderous challenge, he had also taken out the man when he lunged in.
Odegaard and Saka appear to have been swapping spot-kick duties this season and this time it was Arsenal’s Norwegian skipper who stepped up to send Neto the wrong way.
Yet while Aarons’ challenge might have seemed reckless given the circumstances, it didn’t even begin to compare with Ryan Christie’s moment of madness when he ploughed straight through Odegaard to present Arsenal with another penalty.
Saka and Odegaard discussed whose turn it was but then decided it was the perfect time to give a helping hand to Havertz.
But Arsenal were not finished yet and three minutes into stoppage time Ben White rose high to head home from Odegaard’s free-kick.
Yep, it really was that easy.
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