Cherries outgun Arsenal to win in comeback
- Kevin Friend
AFC Bournemouth turned things round as they beat Arsenal 2-1 to claim three vital Premier League points at Vitality.
Callum Wilson and Jordon Ibe were the Cherries heroes as they struck within four minutes of each other to turn a deficit into a glorious match-winning lead.
Goalless at the break despite chances coming at both ends, Hector Bellerin gave the visitors a rapid start to the second half as he slid home a shot.
However, Callum Wilson drew the Cherries level with a true striker's goal, beating Petr Cech to a wonderful Ryan Fraser centre.
Jordon Ibe dramatically then gave Bournemouth the lead as he smashed home Wilson's layoff and suddenly the euphoric Cherries led, a margin they would hold until the end amongst a rapturous atmosphere.
The Cherries switched to three at the back for the match, with three changes to the line-up from the last Premier League match.
The headline news from the away dressing room saw star Gunners pair Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil both miss out on the playing squad.
Adam Smith, starting at right wingback, drilled low within four minutes, his shot passing just past Cech's post.
In an energetic opening eight minutes, Arsenal full-back Ainsley Maitland-Niles twisted and turned in the box, got a strike away and saw it bounce back off the top of the crossbar.
The visitors' goal threat apparent, Alex Iwobi tested Asmir Begovic at his near post, the Bosnian pushing behind for a corner.
Maitland-Niles gave the ball away needlessly in the middle of the park, Ibe surging forwards but his ball into space for Fraser was cut out.
The intensity was there for the home side, looking to pressure their rivals at every opportunity, while former Cherries loanee Jack Wilshere was the focal point for much of his side's best attacking points.
Arsenal had a good spell past the midway point of the half, Danny Welbeck in on goal but unable to beat the leg of Begovic, before Shkodran Mustafi headed Granit Xhaka's corner over the bar.
Following a foul on Smith a set piece - which appeared to hit teh arm of Iwobi in the box - was cleared as far as the Cherries right back who drove into the box but his shot was weak and saved by Cech.
Some fine Ibe wingplay resulted in a low ball finding its way to Fraser at the back post, the Scot's shot from eight yards was true but blocked by a defender, the winger soon going close again with a rising half volley.
Dan Gosling fired a bouncing ball from a corner high and handsome, though the Gunners were soon ahead.
Iwobi's fine ball intersected the Cherries backline and Bellerin, through on goal, managed to squeeze his shot through Begovic and over the line.
Lys Mousset entered the action as the Cherries switched to a back four in the pursuit of an equaliser, Fraser trying his luck from 25 yards for the hosts though Cech was always behind the ball.
Ibe switched back on Rob Holding and left-footed took the chance on from a tight angle, Cech saving again, but the goal the home fans craved soon came for Bournemouth.
Fraser's quick thinking and stunning ball in allowed Wilson to display his striker's instinct, nipping in ahead of his defender and then the 'keeper to stab a finish home.
Four minutes later and the Cherries had turned things around, Ibe striking his side into the lead with his first ever Bournemouth goal.
Lewis Cook's ball in towards Wilson was precise, the striker's control falling invitingly for Ibe who arrowed home a low finish that Cech couldn't stop.
The Arsenal attacks were mounting but Ibe soon threatened again with a low effort from range, before leaving the field to a hero's reception with five minutes to go, Marc Pugh coming on.
Into four minutes of added on time and home nerves were on edge, especially with last season's Arsenal home match in mind, but the Cherries held on and claimed three massive Premier League points, maintaining their unbeaten run since Christmas.