We delivered a five-star performance over Bournemouth on Wednesday night with five individual goalscorers - but what did we learn from our Premier League outing?
OZIL’S SIGNATURE STIKE
When Mesut Ozil opened the scoring in the fourth minute, there were some people questioning whether the World Cup winner had mishit his shot such was the impudent nature of it as he struck the ball into the turf and up and over Artur Boruc. There may well have been merit to the argument if we had not seen it before, twice in fact, last season against Liverpool and Huddersfield Town at the Emirates. It is fast becoming his signature strike and it makes it near impossible for a goalkeeper to read the pace and trajectory. It is a high-class finish for a high-class player.
The standing ovation Henrikh Mkhitaryan received when he was substituted midway through the second half said it all about his dynamic display. The Armenian has had fine games at this stadium before of course, but this display combined both the silk and the steel. Mkhitaryan fought for every ball, dropped into dangerous spaces that Bournemouth just couldn’t handle and, when he did gain possession, drove forward with real purpose. His assist for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the perfect example of this, as the Armenian won the ball, burst forward, held off two defenders and threaded an inch-perfect ball for his team-mate. It was his second assist of the night, and his record over the past four days of two goals and three assists shows a man hitting form at just the right time when there’s a north London derby around the corner.
THE JENKO RENAISSANCE
It had been 830 days since Carl Jenkinson’s last start for us in the Premier League, while you’d have to go all the way back to December 2013 for his last league start at Emirates Stadium. But you wouldn’t have known it from this display. The 27-year-old was rock solid here, and his trademark industry and energy was so important to our attacking impetus down the right flank. Many Arsenal fans will always hold a special place in their hearts for ‘one of our own’ and Jenkinson’s tackle to win a 50-50 near the touchline just before the interval brought the home support to their feet in appreciation. But this was not support borne out of sentimentality, it was simply down to appreciating a fine performance. The Jenko renaissance continues apace.
When Matteo Guendouzi was robbed of possession on the edge of his area, leading to Bournemouth’s goal, it would have been easy for his head to drop. But the Frenchman – still a teenager lest we forget – does not appear to have that in his DNA. Guendouzi’s second-half display was superb, as he constantly demanded the ball and kept bursting forward as he knitted our attacking play together. The midfielder had 108 touches, more than any other player on the pitch, and completed 87.5 per cent of his passes, while having three shots on goal. He did not forget his defensive responsibilities either, making three clearances – bettered by only two players on the pitch - and one block. This was another brave display from the 19-year-old, who has already established himself as a key member of our side in his first season in English football. What a talent he is.
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