Take a deep breath, there was a lot to take in and digest.
Bournemouth, for sixty five minutes, were the better side, and will feel hard done by after decimating the Gunners for the majority of the game. Forget the three goals they scored, they should have scored about five.
The decision to bring back Shkodran Mustafi in place of the improved Gabriel did not pay off, as Cherries striker Calum Wilson and Josh King both terrorised the Gunners backline and made them look foolish at times. The usual fare of sensible defending went out of the window as even ushering the ball out of play seemed beyond us at times.
It was flabbergasting, Arsenal were unable to build the basic foundation to attack. Bournemouth got the goal their play deserved, as Charlie Daniels took advantage of a hesitant Bellerin and cut inside the dithering Spaniard before dispatching past Petr Cech.
Five minutes later, Eddie Howe’s side were in dreamland.
Granit Xhaka planted his arm on a Bournemouth player and applied weight. Whatever the standard of foul, it was still an effort made to hinder. It was a penalty. Naive from the Swiss midfielder, but Calum Wilson didn’t mind. He put the spot kick straight down the middle to score his second penalty against Arsenal in two games.
The rest of the first half was a mixture of tepid Gunners possession and Bournemouth looking dangerous.Francis Coquelin went off injured, and was replaced by Oxlade-Chamberlain, and he took the right hand side spot that Ramsey had, as the Welshman reverted back to central midfield.
It was a small mercy when referee Michael Oliver blew for half time.
The second half began with at least a little intent from Arsenal. We probed and passed, with Alexis dropping deeper and deeper as his frustration grew. Then, a hammer blow.
Ryan Fraser was set free to take on Hector Bellerin in a foot race. It was pretty even to e fair to Fraser, but Hector edged it. He then was shoved in the back in similar style to when Xhaka gave the penalty away, but Oliver did not blow his whistle. The game carried on, as did Fraser, who slotted it through a prone Petr Cech to put Bournemouth three goals up.
It was perhaps the most demoralising showing for quite some time. Was it down to Arsenal playing poorly? Partly, but Eddie Howe deserves enormous credit. They did not stop.
Then, a lifeline, which was barely deserved. The Ox put a cross in and Giroud, under intense pressure, managed to flick the ball with the back of his head. The ball fell to Alexis at the back stick who dived in to head into the net.
With twenty minutes to go, Arsenal needed another two to salvage a point. They needed only five to grab another.
Lucas had come on only minutes before for Alex Iwobi, and he took advantage of a smart flick from Giroud to swivel and plant a volley into the far corner. A great goal, and with fifteen minutes to go, the Gunners could see light at the end of the tunnel.
Then, another turning point. Simon Francis was red carded for a foul on Aaron Ramsey, and hope became ever more tangible.
Then, on the ninetieth minute, it was man of the hour Olivier Giroud again. He finally won a header in a congested box, and the ball found the far corner.
His scorpion celebration was as good as his goal.
This is a much summarised version of events, but here are five key points that arose from the match:
Play with intent, win the game
We played on the front foot for the last twenty minutes. We scored our three goals in that time. When we have played in this manner, utilising our speed of thought, we have usually gone home with the points. Why can’t we do this every game? WHY????
Third away game without a win
Our losses to Everton, City and now this lucky draw represent one point from nine in away games. Not good enough. With six teams vying for the top four, and the title disappearing into the distance, this is not up to standard. Must do better.
Ramsey’s first game back, cut him some slack
It was Rambo’s first start since November and he was wide on the right for the first half. At times he was the only one who looked like he was making any effort. He never shied away from possession, and always tried to make things happen. He deserves credit rather than lambasting for the things that didn’t work.
Bellerin had a mare
Only two days ago, I tweeted that I thought Bellerin was the Premiership’s best full-back. Oh how my mouth loves to make me seem a fool. This was his worst game since his debut versus Dortmund where he was given a baptism of fire and some marshmallows after being roasted. He looked switched off, and appeared powerless in the face of shoulder barges and the usual physical fare dished up on a weekly basis. The boy is good, but he can’t rest on his laurels.
The fightback showed great spirit
We played badly. All Gooners will be sadly familiar with this blip. The twenty minutes where we staged our fightback was powerful stuff though. Whilst this ensued, thoughts ranged from “Why couldn’t we have done this earlier?” to “wow, come on you Arsenal!!!” It was inspired, but needless. It should never have got to that stage.
There was much more to write about. Mustafi was pure awful at times and Gabriel deserved to keep his place on form. Bournemouth probably deserved the points as for sixty minutes, their press and their drive were unrivalled.
Olivier Giroud also deserves a special mention. Yet again, he rose to the top like Gallic creme as he set up first Alexis, then Lucas, and then scored the equaliser. Cometh the hour, cometh the fantastically bearded man. When he goes through his next dry spell, hark back to this moment when we can try to remember how useful he really is.
Lastly, Petr cech must step up. He was great against Palace, but it looked like he couldn’t stop anything in this game.
This hasn’t been the most coherent of blogs, but it was written in the style of the game. Frenetic, crazy and rammed full of points.