Bournemouth 1-2 Arsenal: Three big talking points at the Vitality Stadium
Although it might not have been as convincing as Unai Emery had wished for, Arsenal’s 2-1 win on the South Coast means they now march on to 17 games unbeaten and also move within a single point of the top four.
While Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth side put in yet another spirited display and will be disappointed not to have left with something, it was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who once again had the final say.
Although Jefferson Lerma’s astonishing own goal was canceled out by Josh King’s strike in first-half additional time, the Gabon international secured all three points for Arsenal just after the hour mark.
Now scoring 18 goals in his last 26 Premier League appearances, the Gunners are yet to taste defeat in the top-flight since the 18th of August.
Two sides who will have their sights set on securing some form of European football this season, what were the three key talking points after Arsenal’s win at the Vitality:
Arsenal’s three at the back
Arguably the biggest talking point prior to kick off was Emery’s decision to alter his formation to a 3-4-3.
While the Spaniard’s decision was seen to be as a way to try to avoid being overrun in midfield, the Gunners struggled to settle in the early stages and constantly left pockets of space.
Instead of nullifying the service into King and Wilson, Bournemouth’s ever willing runners were able to exploit the space behind Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis.
A formation that Arsene Wenger experimented with in the final days of his reign, it was very much the same problems they had when using three at the back last season.
In this 3-4-3 formation for Arsenal, their center backs are being exposed so easily and dragged out wide. Would be shocked if Unai Emery doesn’t change this up very soon.
— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW_NBCSports) November 25, 2018
Given Bournemouth’s high press starting from the front, Leno was often forced to clear his lines and the central midfield partnership of Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira were spectators for the most part.
With both Hector Bellerin Sead Kolašinac often caught in the opposition half, the Gunners defensive trio could never get settled and their new look formation played a huge part in allowing Bournemouth to break on the counter-attack.
Although fans in North London were calling for a change in formation to end a run of three consecutive Premier League draws, the 3-4-3 might not have been Emery’s best decision.
David Brooks shines once again
In the early stages, one man who capitalized on Arsenal’s early adjustment to the 3-4-3 was summer arrival, David Brooks.
Only seeing his stock rise following his £11.5million move from Sheffield United, the 21-year-old proved to be a constant nuisance on the right-hand side of Bournemouth’s midfield.
Along with Ryan Fraser on the left flank, the Wales international was given a license to join the attack and provide service to the Cherries’ attacking duo.
David Brooks' first half vs. Arsenal by numbers:
100% tackles won
most dribbles (3)
most chances created (2)
Another gem unearthed by Howe. ??? pic.twitter.com/vLUF7kJPZ3
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) November 25, 2018
Often finding himself coming central and playing between the lines, Brooks almost epitomizes the quick counter-attacking style of play Eddie Howe is looking to implement on the South Coast.
Having his strike after just seven minutes controversially ruled out for offside, Brooks’ clever reverse ball to Josh King seconds before half-time saw him pick up his second assist for the season and top off yet another bright performance.
One man who paid the price for Emery’s decision to start with a 3-4-3 was the resurgent Mesut Ozil who could only settle for a spot among Arsenal’s substitutes.
Replaced after 75 minutes in their 1-1 draw with Wolves a fortnight ago and also being handed a full recovery due to announcing his retirement from international football, Ozil’s omission certainly raised plenty of eyebrows.
Undoubtedly enjoying his brightest spell under the former PSG boss, the 30-year-old had started all four of the Gunners’ previous Premier League matches and was seen to have been a key part of their unbeaten run.
Instead, with no need for a number 10 in their new look formation, the 47-year-old elected to hand Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan starts in Arsenal’s attacking trio.
In the same week that Emery called for more consistency from his midfield talisman, Ozil remained an unused substitute at the Vitality Stadium and former Arsenal striker Alan Smith has insisted that it is hard to find a place for him.
“In this formation it’s harder to find a place for Ozil”
“This is effectively a 3-4-3 and if he was to play he’d be on one of the flanks. It’s the new regime with a manager who thinks differently to his predecessor.”
Although the Arsenal camp will stick with his absence solely being down to tactical reasons, there is no doubt that rumors will begin circling.
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