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Mikel Arteta's Arsenal reign gets off to underwhelming start

The Gunners were held to a draw away to Bournemouth.

Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after the final whistle.
Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after the final whistle.

MIKEL ARTETA failed to galvanise an instant upturn in Arsenal’s fortunes as the Gunners had to come from behind just to salvage a point in a 1-1 Boxing Day draw at Bournemouth.

After a bright start from the visitors, the ills of Arsenal’s season that have seen Arteta handed his first senior managerial role were obvious when Dan Gosling put Bournemouth in front on the half hour mark.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang once again rode to his side’s rescue to level, but the Gunners could not make the most of their dominance of the ball after the break against a Bournemouth side that had lost six of their last seven games.

A point leaves Arsenal still down in 11th and with one win in their last 14 games in all competitions under three different managers.

Arteta recalled the experienced trio of Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and Sokratis Papastathopoulos from the side that drew 0-0 at Everton with the Spaniard watching on from the stands on Saturday.

 

Ozil has faced a barrage of criticism this season due to his limited impact on the field, whilst Arsenal distanced themselves from his comments support for the Muslim minority Uighurs in Xinjiang amid a backlash from China.

The German looked more like his old self in the opening quarter as the visitors dominated possession with Ozil pulling the strings.

Twice he freed Lacazette inside the area, but the French international striker could not get a clean strike on goal.

Reiss Nelson and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also had efforts blocked, but the Gunners’ defensive problems were soon exposed by Bournemouth.

Arsenal’s clean sheet at Goodison Park at the weekend was their first on the road in the Premier League since the opening day of the season and not for the first time this campaign, they played themselves into trouble as they tried to build from the back.

Gosling robbed the ball midway inside the Arsenal half and continued his run forward into the box to meet Jack Stacey’s low cross.

Bernd Leno then prevented his side falling 2-0 behind before half-time with a smart save at his near post from Josh King.

Arteta made an impact with his half-time team talk as Arsenal dominated in the second half but once again needed Aubameyang to dig them out of the trouble.

The Arsenal captain scored his 14th goal of the season as he swept home a loose ball inside the Bournemouth box.

Lacazette then had a glorious chance to give Arteta the perfect start when he raced clear on goal, but Bournemouth captain Steve Cook recovered just in time with a sliding challenge to divert the striker’s shot behind for a corner.

At the other end, Callum Wilson thought he had given Bournemouth just their second ever victory over Arsenal when he tapped into an unguarded net after Leno parried Harry Wilson’s shot.

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However, the offside flag came to Arsenal’s rescue and a VAR review confirmed the England striker had strayed marginally beyond the last line of defence.

Meanwhile, Carlo Ancelotti had a more positive impact on his Everton bow as Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s brilliant diving header earned a 1-0 win over Burnley.

Sheffield United are behind Tottenham only on goal difference as they missed the chance to close to within a point of Chelsea in a 1-1 draw with bottom-of-the-table Watford.

Gerard Deulofeu gave the Hornets an early lead as they looked to build on a 2-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday.

However, Oliver Norwood’s penalty quickly brought the Blades level and only the brilliance of Ben Foster to deny John Fleck from point-blank range denied Chris Wilder’s men a fourth consecutive win. 

Crystal Palace climbed up to eighth and within six points of the top four themselves as they came from behind to beat West Ham 2-1 and hand manager Roy Hodgson his first ever Premier League win on Boxing Day.

Robert Snodgrass put the Hammers in front early in the second half at Selhurst Park, but Palace roared back as Cheikhou Kouyate smashed home the equaliser against his old club.

Jordan Ayew then produced a sublime individual run and finish in the final minute to snatch victory for the Eagles.

English Premier League results on Thursday:

Aston Villa 1 (Hourihane 64) Norwich 0

Bournemouth 1 (Gosling 35) Arsenal 1 (Aubameyang 63)

Chelsea 0 Southampton 2 (Obafemi 31, Redmond 73)

Crystal Palace 2 (Kouyate 68, Ayew 90) West Ham 1 (Snodgrass 57)

Everton 1 (Calvert-Lewin 80) Burnley 0

Sheffield United 1 (Norwood 36-pen) Watford 1 (Deulofeu 27)

Tottenham 2 (Kane 53, Alli 72) Brighton 1 (Webster 37)

© – AFP, 2019   

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