The last time Arsenal were top of the Premier League was in a very different era, after multiple matches – the inevitable collapse after Christmas.
With Mikel Arteta in charge, the fully modified team has a spring under its feet and has been back there for at least a day. It cost them around £350million, various warnings caught by documentary cameras and a few false starts, but they certainly look competitive.
This is Arteta’s Arsenal team — his players and his style — and they have served him in a dominant way. His marquee striker signing Gabriel Jesus looked better than the rest. His new captain Martin Audegaard scored twice in the first 15 minutes. William Saliba, the new jewel of Arsenal’s defence, has scored his third goal, honed during his long apprenticeship as an Arsenal loan player.
A young team with a lot of potential and strength on the bench, including last season’s starters like Emile Smith Lowe, Kieran Tierney and Takehiro Tomiyasu, and currently vying for their place. remained the same for three matches, and at this rate there is no need for Arteta to change. His full-backs Ben White and Oleksandr Zinchenko look strong and his next two games at home, against Fulham and Aston Villa, are a chance for them to build some real momentum.
It was another tough afternoon for Bournemouth. He’s one thing to ship four to mighty Manchester City, but this felt like a surrender from the start. Only a very slight Vahr decision by Paul Tierney in front of the monitors denied Arsenal’s fourth goal of the second half to Yes. Bournemouth rallied in the second half but were low base to come back from there and two early goals for Audegaul meant they would never be there.
It’s going to be a long season for Bournemouth and the decision to sit back and defend at home will be one that absorbs Scott Parker.
By the time his team walks out at halftime with a bit of a shock, Parker has little to rejoice. The minute I saw them soon be late.
The home side, who beat Aston Villa on the opening day of the season, lined up deep and intent on defending numbers but ran into trouble. Five goals in defense and three for him in midfield was still not enough, but Jesus pulled the ball out of the air in his fifth minute and threatened the Bournemouth defense with one move.
At that moment the Brazilian was on a different level than the red and black shirts.He killed a looping ball and entered the home side before they could react. He passed Jefferson Lerma over his shoulder, ignored Adam Smith, and had the presence of mind to channel Gabriel Martinelli. Arsenal, to their credit, poured forward, with Oudegaard scoring the rebound when goalkeeper Mark Travers saved the first shot.
It was such a good goal and a strong run from Yes that Bournemouth looked deeper and deeper in anticipation of it happening again. tried to support him and was forced to do all the attacks himself. Still, there was absolutely no pressure on Arsenal’s passes coming from behind, and Oleksandr Zinchenko felt more pressure than anyone else.
Their second fell to the right when right-back Ben White overlapped past Bukayo Saka and Jesus in the box reached the cross first. He had his back to goal, but Audegaard delivered a superb shot with no pressure. At that point, Bournemouth could have gotten even worse, but they managed to keep them as stable as possible. Not a single attempt at Arsenal’s goal was he — on he target or off — the entire first half, or indeed he won one corner.
The new partnership of Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba was central to the defense, looking confident on the ball and able to play a high line pushing back the Bournemouth midfield. Zinchenko joined midfield in possession and said much about how Arsenal assessed the threat on the left flank.
Saliba’s goal came within ten minutes and was the home side’s final demoralizing blow after Parker’s half-time change. They were once again terrible at defending short free-kicks. Granit Xhaka picked up the ball on the far side and Saliba was the first to shoot with his left foot.
A quality goal from centre-half and for the Arsenal fans who sang his name throughout the first half, it is a testament to the Frenchman’s dedication to finally arriving in the first team after returning to France three times on loan. There should have been a goal in Jesus’ game. He was denied one of his by Var, then had another chance with 20 minutes of play where he was successfully saved by Travers. The consequences had been resolved long before that.