Honours even in Boxing Day thriller
- Stuart Attwell
AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal battled out an entertaining 1-1 draw at Vitality Stadium today with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s second-half equaliser denying the hosts all three points.
Dan Gosling fired the Cherries in front after 35 minutes, the midfielder sweeping home Jack Stacey’s cross at the near post.
But Aubameyang’s finely-taken effort in the 63rd minute, his 14th goal of the season, drew the Gunners level in Mikel Arteta’s first game in charge.
Steve Cook made a welcome return to the Cherries starting line-up having missed the past four games after fracturing his wrist at Tottenham last month.
Callum Wilson, an interval substitute against Burnley on Saturday, also started having sat out the win at Chelsea due to a hamstring problem.
Jack Simpson made his first Premier League start since the final day of last season, the 23-year-old coming in for Diego Rico who was suspended.
Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil and Sokratis were restored to the Gunners starting line-up.
Ryan Fraser fashioned the first shooting chance after five minutes having been teed up by a neat exchange of passes between Lewis Cook and Wilson.
But after pulling the trigger from around 12 yards, the Scotsman was thwarted when Sokratis blocked his effort.
Jack Stacey did well to stand his ground and then clear the danger after Lacazette had threatened to test Cherries goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
Lacazette lifted his shot high over the crossbar after being picked out by Ozil’s pass before Callum Wilson went close to opening the scoring in the 12th minute.
But having met Fraser’s cross with a thunderous volley from just inside the box, the striker could only watch as the ball just cleared the crossbar.
Ramsdale saved bravely at the feet of Lacazette after he had seized on Simpson’s stray pass before Steve Cook superbly blocked Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s shot.
Lacazette’s effort from a Reiss Nelson cut-back was charged down by Jefferson Lerma before Aubameyang skied the ball over the top from the edge of the box.
Sokratis slid in to tackle Callum Wilson after he had looked to fasten on to Lewis Cook’s through ball, while Nelson sliced his shot off target from Granit Xhaka’s cross.
Gosling started and finished the move which saw the hosts take the lead in the 35th minute.
The midfielder’s interception led to the ball falling at the feet of Callum Wilson who delayed until Stacey had overlapped.
And after the defender had crossed from the byline, his low, driven centre was swept home at the near post by Gosling who had burst into the six-yard box.
Chris Mepham threw himself in front of Lacazette’s piledriver before a lung-busting run down the left wing by Joshua King almost yielded a second goal.
But after the Norway international had charged into the danger zone, he saw his shot from a very tight angle parried by Bernd Leno before the Arsenal goalkeeper pushed the ball out for a corner.
Aubameyang curled a right-foot shot narrowly over the crossbar at the start of the second half before the Gunners striker was held back by Lerma who was booked for the foul.
Lucas Torreira quickly followed Lerma into referee Stuart Attwell’s notebook for a late challenge on Lewis Cook, as did Ainsley Maitland-Niles for hauling down King.
Stacey was in the right place to put off Aubameyang after he had looked to pounce on Ozil’s pass before the Gunners drew level through the Gabon international in the 63rd minute.
There was an element of good fortune in the build up after Nelson’s shot had deflected into the path of Aubameyang but there was nothing lucky about the finish which was emphatic at the far post.
Mepham’s crucial last-ditch challenge prevented Lacazette from latching on to David Luiz’s defence-splitting pass before Stacey went close at the other end, firing past the post after substitute Harry Wilson had nodded Lewis Cook’s cross into his path.
Callum Wilson had an effort ruled out for offside after Leno had parried Harry Wilson’s shot straight to him, with VAR confirming the decision was correct.