Dominant Arsenal beat Bournemouth to stay top

Arsenal remained top of the Premier League table thanks to a 3-0 win over Bournemouth at the Emirates Stadium.

Bukayo Saka put the Gunners ahead from the penalty spot in a one-sided first half before Leandro Trossard swept home their second following a spell of Bournemouth pressure after the break.

The visitors had a goal controversially ruled out after that, with VAR upholding referee David Coote’s decision to penalise Dominic Solanke for a foul on David Raya, before Declan Rice added a stoppage-time third to put the result beyond doubt.

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Sky Sports’ Michael Bridges and Nick Wright react to Arsenal’s 3-0 win over AFC Bournemouth, which put the Gunners four points clear at the top of the Premier League.

The victory, Arsenal’s fourth in a row, kept the Gunners just a point ahead of Manchester City, albeit having played a game more than the champions.

Player ratings

Arsenal: Raya (7), White (7), Saliba (8), Gabriel (7), Tomiyasu (7), Partey (7), Odegaard (8), Rice (9), Saka (8), Trossard (7), Havertz (8).

Subs: Martinelli (7), Jesus (7).

Bournemouth: Travers (7), Smith (6), Senesi (6), Zabarnyi (6), Ouattara (6), Cook (6), Christie (6), Kluivert (7), Scott (6), Semenyo (6), Solanke (6).

Subs: Billing (6), Unal (6), Faivre (6), Billing (6).

Player of the Match: Declan Rice

How Arsenal notched up another win

Arsenal fell behind after only nine seconds when Bournemouth visited the Emirates Stadium last season but they looked comfortable from the start this time around, creating a succession of early chances which required last-ditch blocks from the visitors.

Team news

  • Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta named an unchanged team from the north London derby, with Kai Havertz again leading the line.
  • Bournemouth welcomed back Illia Zabarnyi in defence, with Ryan Christie also returning to their starting line-up.

Kai Havertz, William Saliba and Saka had all gone close before Takehiro Tomiyasu had his header cleared off the line and there was an even better chance for Rice, who fired a low shot wastefully past the post from Havertz’s knockdown at the far post.

Bournemouth’s resistance was finally broken when the excellent Martin Odegaard played in Havertz, who drew contact from goalkeeper Mark Travers before going to ground, the penalty call surviving a lengthy VAR check before Saka stepped up to convert.

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Paul Merson felt Bournemouth were unlucky for Arsenal’s penalty

The goal ensures Saka is the first Arsenal player since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to reach 20 goals in all competitions for the club in a single season and Trossard is not far behind him on 16 thanks to his clinical first-time finish, from Rice’s clever pass, in the 70th minute.

Arsenal had been forced onto the back foot before that and they survived a scare immediately afterwards, when Antoine Semenyo’s goal, after Ryan Christie’s effort had come back off the bar, was ruled out following another long VAR check.

Arsenal's Bukayo Saka celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal
Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka celebrates after scoring his side’s opening goal

The referee’s decision to penalise Solanke for a foul on Raya was upheld despite the contact being slight, with Bournemouth’s appeals for a penalty for a Gabriel Magalhaes pull on substitute Philip Billing in the same passage of play turned away.

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The Soccer Saturday team talk through the decision not to award Bournemouth a penalty or goal against Arsenal

Arsenal had more chances to extend their lead, with Odegaard firing into the side-netting and Havertz clipping the bar, but Rice eventually got the third, finishing well from an angle from Gabriel Jesus’s pass to add a goal to his earlier assist in a player-of-the-match display which delighted the home fans.

Analysis: Rice has blossomed as an attacker

Declan Rice is best known for his defensive qualities but the 25-year-old’s performances this season might require a reassessment. He has become a lethal attacker under Mikel Arteta.

He provided the assist for Leandro Trossard’s crucial second goal, flicking the ball to him instinctively with the outside of his boot, then added the third himself with a cool finish on the angle.

Arsenal's Declan Rice celebrates after scoring his side's third goal
Arsenal’s Declan Rice celebrates after scoring his side’s third goal

Rice now has seven goals and eight assists in the Premier League this season, the fourth-highest combined total of any Arsenal player and more than twice as many as he has ever previously managed.

Thomas Partey’s introduction at the base of midfield has helped, giving him freedom to bomb forward from the No 8 position, but Rice’s increased attacking threat has been apparent all season.

This was just another example.

Arteta: Our best first half all season

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta in his press conference:

“I thought it was probably the best first half we have played all season. We were unbelievable, everything flowing, super composed on the ball, really aggressive without the ball.

“We generated so many chances, we could have gone three, four, five [up] easily and we didn’t. We scored one.

“Credit to Bournemouth, they changed a few things and created some issues. The game became a little bit more open, something we wanted to avoid.

“Within that game, we resolved certain situations in the right way and we were very efficient in front of goal to score the goals and maintain another clean sheet.”

Leandro Trossard celebrates after doubling Arsenal's lead
Leandro Trossard celebrates after doubling Arsenal’s lead

On Bournemouth’s disallowed goal and the late Ryan Christie tackle on Bukayo Saka in the first half which went unpunished: “The honest answer is I haven’t seen any of the incidents because I knew you were going to ask me.

“I did it on purpose. The analysts said do you want to watch it and I said no because then I can tell the truth!

“I haven’t seen them so I cannot comment or have an impression. The one on David [Raya], the foul [for the disallowed goal], I cannot see because it’s too far. The one on Bukayo, is it on purpose or not? I don’t know so difficult for me to judge.”

On whether he will watch Man City’s game against Wolves: “Yeah I will be there sitting with my kids and my family.

On whether he will be wearing a Wolves shirt: “No, pyjamas. Comfy pyjamas.”

Raya clinches Golden Glove – Opta stats

  • David Raya has officially won the Premier League’s Golden Glove, keeping 15 clean sheets in the Premier League this season, with only Petr Cech (16 in 2015/16) keeping more shutouts in his debut Premier League campaign for the Gunners.
  • Arsenal have won 14 of their 16 Premier League games in 2024 (D1 L1), scoring 51 goals and conceding just eight in reply. Indeed, the Gunners have won the most points in the competition since the turn of the year (43).
  • All 10 of Arsenal’s outfield starters attempted at least one shot in this game, the first time this has happened in a Premier League game for the Gunners since January 2022 against Burnley.
  • With two games to spare, Arsenal have equalled their Premier League win tally from last season (26). Indeed, only in 1930/31 (28) and 1970/71 (29) have the Gunners won more games in a single top-flight campaign.

Iraola: ‘I don’t agree with decisions’

Bournemouth boss Andoni Iraola in his press conference:

“First of all, I think I would like to say that I think Arsenal deserved to win today.

“I think they were better than us, especially first half. I think they pushed us a lot, but I don’t think the game should have gone the way it has gone because the referee decisions, I don’t agree with the decisions.

“I don’t agree with the penalty one, but especially with the disallowed goal.

“But I want to repeat – I think they were better than us and I think they should have won the game.”

On VAR, he added: “I think we have to rethink it a little bit, if we lose five or six minutes checking every angle.

“Probably the thing is you cannot give a foul or it’s a very clear penalty (on Philip Billing).

“If you give this foul, it’s a much clearer penalty one metre in front of him. But probably, it’s not clear and obvious because there is contact.

“(Either) we give power to the VAR or we don’t lose the five, six minutes to check everything. I think we have to go one way or the other.”

What’s next?

Arsenal continue their title bid at Manchester United on Sunday May 12, live on Sky Sports. Kick-off 4.30pm. They end the season at home to Everton on Sunday May 19, kick-off 4pm.

Bournemouth host Brentford in their last home game of the season on Saturday May 11, kick-off 3pm. The Cherries finish the season at Chelsea on May 19, kick-off 4pm.

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