Goals from Alexis Sanchez (2) and new Father Theo Walcott secure 3-1 win for Arsenal
Goals from Alexis Sanchez (2) and new Father Theo Walcott secured a 3-1 win for Arsenal over AFC Bournemouth, in their Premier League clash at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon.
The result moves the Gunners to within three points of leaders Chelsea, but they remain in fourth place in the Premier League table two points behind Liverpool and Manchester City.
Arsenal had drawn three of their last four Premier League matches.
And were under pressure today not to drop any further points after wins for the Premier League’s top three yesterday.
Chelsea maintain top spot after their 2-1 win against Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge.
Second placed Liverpool beat Sunderland 2-0 at Anfield.
And third placed Manchester City beat Burnley 2-1 at Turf Moor.
Arsenal took the lead in the 12th when Steve Cook’s woeful attempted back pass was intercepted by Alexis Sanchez, who slotted the ball into the net past Cherries keeper Adam Federici.
The unlucky Mathieu Debuchy was substituted with another injury in the 16th minute. He seems destined never to get the chance to put a run of games together in an Arsenal shirt
In what has been a fiercely contested competition, Mike Jones gave by some distance the worst refereeing performance seen at the Emirates Stadium so far this season.
He booked seven players – five from Bournemouth and two from Arsenal – but never got control of a match littered with bad challenges and even poorer decision-making from him.
Sanchez appealed for a penalty two minutes after opening the scoring after colliding with Nathan Ake. Replays showed it was a fraction outside the penalty box, but that there was contact. Jones waved play on.
Jones then controversially gave the Cherries a penalty when he decided that Callum Wilson had been fouled by Nacho Monreal.
The decision meant that Arsenal had conceded a penalty in consecutive home games for the first time in the Premier League – after the award of one to Tottenham Hotspur in the last home match, which was converted by Harry Kane.
Wilson converted the penalty past Petr Cech to bring the Cherries level in the 23rd minute. It was his fourth Premier League goal of the season.
Bournemouth then missed two excellent chances before half-time to take the lead. An unmarked Adam Smith headed over the crossbar before Brad Smith had a shot saved by Cech.
On the stroke of half-time Sanchez’s shot from a wide-angle struck the crossbar.
Arsenal restored their lead in the 53rd minute, when new Father Theo Walcott headed a Monreal cross in from close range. The goal helped Walcott to celebrate the birth of his second child in style. It was only his second headed goal in the Premier League. The other came against West Ham, on Boxing Day 2013.
Bournemouth then had a second penalty appeal, when a Simon Francis struck the arm of Monreal. This time referee Jones waved away the appeals.
The Gunners were then indebted to Cech for maintaining the lead with a save from substitute Benik Afobe.
Fellow substitute Mousset then sent a header wide of the post as Bournemouth pressed for an equaliser.
Sanchez though wrapped up the three points for Arsenal when scored from close range in the first minute of stoppage time. The chance was set up by substitute Olivier Giroud.
Today’s double takes Sanchez on to eight Premier League goals for the season. He also has three assists.
Giroud has been involved in more goals from the bench than any other Premier League player this season (three goals, one assist).
Arsenal weren’t at their fluent best today and once again looked vulnerable defensively.
The Gunners though are proving to be very efficient in converting shots on target into goals.
Arsenal have had seven shots on target in their last four games in all competitions, and have scored seven goals.
The Gunners take on Southampton in the EFL Cup at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday. The Saints beat Everton 1-0 today at St Mary’s.
And they then visit West Ham United at the London Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday. The Hammers drew 1-1 with Manchester United today at Old Trafford.
Arsenal: Cech 7, Debuchy 4 (Gabriel), Monreal 5, Koscielny 7, Mustafi 6, Xhaka 6, Elneny 7, Ozil 6, Oxlade-Chamberlain 7 (Ramsey), Walcott 6 (Giroud), Sanchez 8