Arsenal beat Cherries to go top

December 28, 2015, 8:05pm

By Mark Mitchener, BBC Sport
Photo: Getty Images

Mesut Ozil inspired Arsenal to reclaim top spot in the Premier League, at least for 24 hours, as they won their first league meeting with Bournemouth.

After a tense opening, Ozil's corner was met with a firm header by defender Gabriel for his first goal in English football.

Ozil made it 2-0 after the break from a slick one-two with Olivier Giroud.

Bournemouth showed plenty of spirit, but could not find their way through as Arsenal closed out the victory.

With Leicester not playing until Tuesday, Arsenal leapfrog them into top spot by one point. Bournemouth, meanwhile, slip to 16th and remain only three points from danger as their six-match unbeaten run came to an end.

If Arsene Wenger wanted a reaction from his squad, having rung the changes following Boxing Day's 4-0 mauling at Southampton, it took a while in coming.

But all it needed was the first goal just before the half-hour to kick the hosts, and their familiar fluent passing game, into gear.

All four of those Arsenal newcomers played their part as Gabriel opened his goalscoring account.

Kieran Gibbs had his hands full with the dangerous Matt Ritchie, Calum Chambers brushed off rumours of a January loan return to Southampton with an assured midfield display, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain threatened with his pace when Arsenal broke, going close to adding a third goal late on.

Although Bournemouth had overcome a 2-0 deficit to draw 3-3 with Everton in an enthralling game last month, such a comeback never looked on the cards here once Ozil had unlocked them.

Cech the record books

Gunners keeper Petr Cech was tested more than his opposite number Artur Boruc early on, as Bournemouth's Harry Arter opened up the defence with some through balls to lone striker Joshua King, who was twice denied by Cech to keep the game goalless.

But as the game went on, even when the Cherries found some space in the final third, there was no way past the Czech goalkeeper, who kept out Matt Ritchie's 30-yard drive and celebrated his 170th top-flight clean sheet to set a new Premier League record.

Meanwhile, Boruc earned his spurs at the other end with some important blocks to ensure the Cherries were not swept away.

Arsenal's title-winning sides of the past were built on solid goalkeeping, from Bob Wilson and John Lukic to David Seaman and Jens Lehmann. The purchase of Cech from Chelsea in the summer could turn out to be the key to a first title for 12 years.

Man of the match

Mesut Ozil was at the heart of everything Arsenal did well, not just setting up the first goal and scoring the second but also tackling back to rescue right-back Hector Bellerin at one stage.

What the managers said

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: "There was a little hesitancy at the start after our bad result on Saturday but slowly we got into the game and after that we created chances.

"After a disappointing result, not dropping points once again was most important for us."

On Ozil's performance: "I said many times that he has added something to his game - a desire to be efficient and desire to score goals. He has become a complete sensational football player.

"I am very, very happy with his performances. He is one of the best in Europe certainly. In his position, he is sensational."

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe: "We were well in the game. We started brightly but once we conceded we wobbled. At 1-0 there was always a chance we could get into the game but the second goal was of huge quality and ended it.

"We are developing all the time as a side. We still have some way to go but if we make the same improvement again we will be a good side.

"We took the game to Arsenal in the first half but unfortunately the quality of their players told in the end."