BOURNEMOUTH 0-3 ARSENAL : Mikel Arteta’s Gunners will spend Saturday night out on their own on top of the Premier League table after a comprehensive win on the south coast
Arsenal continued their perfect start to the season with victory at Bournemouth, moving top of the table in the process.
After opening the campaign with victories against Crystal Palace and Leicester City, a trip to a Bournemouth side who won their first home game of the season could have been a tricky test. Instead, though, two Martin Odegaard goals inside the opening 15 minutes calmed nerves and set the Gunners on their way.
William Saliba made it three in the second half, beating Mark Travers with a classy finish to open his account for the London side and make the points absolutely safe, while a fourth from Gabriel Jesus was chalked off following a VAR check. Three more points for Mikel Arteta’s side lifted them back above their rivals Tottenham, who beat Wolverhampton Wanderers in the day’s early kick-off, and puts the pressure back on Manchester City ahead of the Champions’ meeting with Newcastle United
Jesus too hot to handle
Martin Odegaard might have finished off the move for Arsenal’s opener, but it was all about Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilian danced through the Bournemouth defence before feeding Gabriel Martinelli, and the youngster’s shot was palmed into the path of the captain to make it 1-0.
When Arsenal signed the £45m man from Manchester City, there was an expectation that he could deliver in and around the box in a way which Alexandre Lacazette failed to do last term. However, if he’s able to link up play from deep so effortlessly as well, it will come as a bonus.
Eddie Nketiah might be frustrated by his lack of minutes after signing a bumper new contract over the summer. It’s hard to justify leaving out the former City striker, though, so the academy product may need to be patient.
Odegaard finds his shooting boots
In more than 50 Premier League games before today, Martin Odegaard had never scored twice in the same game. Indeed, you have to go all the way back to 2014, when a teenage Odegaard was still playing in Norway, for the last instance of him scoring a league brace.
You wouldn’t have known it from the way he took his goals on the south coast, though. Both were pure instinct, with the Norwegian turning in a rebound for his first and then instantly flash a shot which gave Mark Travers no chance in the Bournemouth goal.
Last season, Arsenal suffered from not having as many goals in the side as some of their rivals. If this becomes the new normal from the captain then it can’t hurt.
Defence is the new attack
William Saliba hasn’t done things by halves, following the high of his Arsenal debut with the frustration of his calamity own goal against Leicester. We should have known his first Gunners goal wouldn’t be a normal one, though, and so it proved with a lofted left-footed finish which the more recognised goalscorers in the team would have been proud of.
Saliba’s return – and his fine form – have provided a dilemma for Arsenal at the back. They have decided the solution is using Ben White at right-back in Takehiro Tomiyasu’s absence (though the Japan international returned from the bench) and there were questions of White’s ability to contribute in an attacking sense.
That didn’t seem to be an issue in the opening 15 minutes, though, with the former Brighton man making a perfectly-timed overlapping run. Not only that, but he had the presence of mind to look up and feed Jesus, whose touch was gobbled up by Odegaard for Arsenal’s second goal of the afternoon.
With Arsenal’s left-back options generally more attacking than those on the right, there might have been some concern about opponents taking advantage of the lopsided set-up. Moments like White’s in the first half will certainly help counter that, while they might not even need regular contributions from the full-backs if those in the centre of defence contribute like Saliba did from the edge of the Bournemouth box.
Bournemouth desperate for Solanke return
Dominic Solanke scored 29 of Bournemouth’s 74 league goals last season as the Cherries won promotion, with the next-closest player down on 10. That showed on Saturday, with Scott Parker’s side looking blunt in the England international’s absence.
Kieffer Moore, like his colleague, has scored goals in the second tier. However, as Arsenal raced into a comfortable lead, there was little sign of the Welsh international sparking any meaningful response save for a late header which Aaron Ramsdale didn’t have to work to hard to save.
Parker revealed before the game that he would be making a late call on Solanke’s fitness for the Gunners’ visit. That suggests he’s close to full fitness and, on the strength of this, his return can’t come soon enough.
Pepe away with a whimper
After two games as an unused substitute, Nicolas Pepe didn’t even manage that at the Vitality Stadium. Vieira’s inclusion in the matchday squad came at the Ivorian’s expense, and that might be all she wrote for Arsenal’s record signing.
Pepe has been tipped to move to Nice on a season-long loan. As we’ve seen with the likes of Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi, though, players sent out by Arteta on a temporary basis don’t always return to the fold.
The former Lille man showed promise in his first season, but he has failed to keep pace as the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe have stepped up from the academy to the first team. He won’t be desperately missed by too many fans, and that tells its own story.