Cherries outgunned in Arsenal loss
- Craig Pawson
AFC Bournemouth levelled once but couldn't find a second equaliser as they lost 2-1 at home to Arsenal.
The Cherries made a bright start but fell behind after half an hour, Jefferson Lerma diverting a cross in for an own goal. However, the hosts struck back through the returning Joshua King who sent the sides in even with a marvellous bending strike moments before the half-time whistle.
Midway through the second period Arsenal edged in front again, second-half specialist Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stretching to convert from seven yards after a quickly-taken free-kick set Saed Kolasinac free in a dangerous position down the left.
Lerma almost made amends as he hit the upright with a fine long-range drive, but the second comeback wasn't to be as the Cherries, who competed well throughout, fell to a third-straight defeat.
Following a blank weekend for the international break, Eddie Howe made two changes to his staring line-up as the Cherries looked to put two straight defeats behind them, Dan Gosling and fit-again King replacing Lewis Cook and Jordon Ibe.
The sun out as the team's got under way, early suggestions were of an open match at Vitality, Bournemouth balls down the sides targeting Wilson's pace against the Arsenal back three.
Eight minutes in and the Cherries thought they had an opener. David Brooks fed a low entry into Joshua King, the ball soon back with the Wales international who poked home under the 'keeper, turning to see the offside flag raised for the tightest of correct decisions.
From one end to the other, moments later Lucas Torreira had Cherries hearts in mouths as he struck in from 23 yards, the ball bouncing back off the face of the post and hurriedly cleared.
Some fine wing work from Brooks and Charlie Daniels prompted a dangerous low cross scrambled clear, but as the delivery came back in Wilson rose and headed goalwards, but his effort lacked the power to trouble Bernd Leno.
The hosts had largely controlled the opening 20 minutes, but the Gunners had their first spell of pressure soon after and Aubameyang should have done better when free at the back post but volleyed over the bar.
Calamity struck on 30 minutes as the Cherries played a huge part in Arsenal's opener.
Kolasinac delivered a pacey low cross into the area only for Lerma's slide, 16 yards from goal with the Colombian looking to intercept, inadvertently arrowing the ball into his own net past Asmir Begovic.
Fortunate or not, the Gunners were pushing for a second in the following ten minutes, Henrikh Mkhitaryan blasting well over as the ball dropped to him on the edge of the area, the Armenian then rolling an under-hit shot through bodies a minute later.
After weathering the storm the Cherries broke with characteristic class and levelled on the stroke of half time.
Arsenal's attack broke down and quick as a flash Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson had combined to put Brooks in a good position 28 yards from goal. Attracting the defender, King was suddenly in room to the Welshman's right and his ball teed up the striker who swirled a sumptuous finish high and beyond Leno.
The second half started in an open fashion similar to the first. The Gunners were perhaps having more territory but the home side conversely were a constant threat when they won back possession and quickly piled men forwards.
Aubameyang had a good opening after Mkhitryan passed forward, but he shot a yard over, while at the other end King battled for the ball and found Brooks, but from an angle Leno got fully behind his low strike.
There was no mistake from Aubameyang soon after as he put Arsenal noses back in front.
The Cherries were slow to react to a free-kick awarded on halfway and after the ball was sent to Kolasinac in space on the left flank the Bosnian squared for the Gabon international to slide and divert the ball just inside the post.
The hosts responding, Fraser's half-volley was well caught but down Leno's throat. Lewis Cook and Junior Stanislas soon came on to try and alter the result's direction.
With 15 minutes left the Gunners remained the main aggressors and the continually surging Kolasinac could have put the game beyond the home side but instead fired into the side netting.
A golden chance nearly dropped the Cherries' way after Daniels had centred but deflecting into Stanislas' path the substitute couldn't get the ball out of his feet sufficiently to get the power to beat Leno diving to his left to save.
The Cherries were upping the ante as they hunted a second and an equaliser was within a lick of paint when Lerma set aim from 30 yards. His strike was well-hit, bounced once but hit the post and rebounded to safety.
Sokratis sliced at a clearance from a Bournemouth corner, Leno sharp to claw it out of the top corner of his goal. Four minutes were the signalled by the fourth official but the additional time was not long enough for the Cherries to draw level again.
Looking to grasp the momentum
Bournemouth made a mesmeric start in the last home game against Manchester United and came out of the traps again rapidly to begin their Gunners clash. Brooks' offside effort would have been just rewards for 20 minutes of excellent play before the visitors began to boss proceedings.
After the match with the Red Devils manager Howe spoke of being able to wrestle back the initiative in-game, and in trademark style his side were able to do just that with a trademark counter to equalise just before the break.
Lerma: Always in the action
After scoring his first goal in England in the Cherries' last outing at Newcastle United, Lerma was in the thick of the action again on Sunday afternoon, a constant of his opening months with the club from a player who never shies away from the occasion.
His energy got him into position to intervene for his luckless own goal, and his late shot was within a whisker of pulling his side back level in the contest. The Colombian also picked up his fifth yellow card of the campaign which will see him miss out at Manchester City next Saturday.