We continued our unbeaten start to the season with an impressive and convincing 4-0 win against AFC Bournemouth at Vitality Stadium on Saturday.
To find out more about exactly how we had so much control, Adrian Clarke has looked back at proceedings and delved into the stats to discover how we beat the press, and highlight some things Mikel Arteta would have been impressed by:
Beating Bournemouth’s press
Andoni Iraola’s tactical approach is built around a high press, but our smart movement and composure in possession helped us successfully bypass Bournemouth’s attempts to steal the ball in advanced areas.
We embraced the challenge well. Confident enough to deliberately draw the Cherries onto us, the players backed themselves to navigate 6v5 or 7v5 situations and move the ball through the thirds.
This example below, from the sixth minute, shows Bournemouth sending five players forward, and initially they box us into a corner with a 4v4.
From here, David Raya held onto the ball for a prolonged period, feigning a pass to William Saliba (out of shot) to the right. This spread out the home side’s five-man press to such a degree that Raya was then able to slip a pass into space for Oleksandr Zinchenko to spring a counter that ended up inside the Bournemouth six-yard box.
As a team we were measured in our distribution throughout, despite the pressure we were put under by Iraola’s men.
Declan Rice, possibly in a bid to lure an extra marker towards him, regularly received the ball in deep areas between William Saliba and Gabriel.
As shown on his pass map, our summer signing was not flustered at all by accepting possession this deep. He did not make single stray pass inside our own half.
Crossing: Less was more
For the first time under Mikel Arteta the Gunners only delivered one cross in open play during the entire 102 minutes played at the Vitality Stadium – and they scored from it!
Martin Odegaard’s gorgeous far post centre for Gabriel Jesus was precise in its execution, and from the Brazilian’s header onto the woodwork, Bukayo Saka nodded home from close range.
Up until this fixture we had averaged 13.16 open play crosses per game, so this was a dramatic shift in style.
The use of Gabriel Jesus on the left perhaps had an impact, but there is also a suspicion we did not want to play to the strengths of Bournemouth’s tall central defenders; opting to pass through them on the ground instead.
|Arsenal - last 7 games||Open play crosses|
|AFC Bournemouth (A)||1|
|Tottenham Hotspur (H)||8|
|Manchester United (H)||17|
|Crystal Palace (A)||12|
|Nottingham Forest (H)||6|
Immaculate from Eddie
Eddie Nketiah’s link-up play has developed greatly across the last two seasons, and in this contest he excelled in that department.
Not too many Premier League starters – and certainly not centre forwards – end a match leaving the field with a 100% pass accuracy, but that is what our 24-year-old front man achieved on the south coast. In his 69 minutes on the pitch, Nketiah did not make one unsuccessful pass.
I liked the way he dropped into midfield to show for the ball, often with a central defender following him tightly. This created space for others to run in beyond him.
As you can see on the chalkboard (above) he did a terrific job of dragging his markers around the pitch, regularly spinning away from them too, with and without the ball.
Full of confidence, Nketiah made four successful dribbles, won all three of his aerial duels, and of course he earned our first half penalty with a tremendous run down the left, followed up by a sharp 1-2 with Zinchenko.
This was a top-class display from the Londoner.
Resilience at the back
In a 4-0 victory it is easy to praise the attackers, but Arsenal’s defenders also deserve praise for their concentration and determination at the Vitality Stadium.
Iraola’s strugglers made more passes than we did inside the final third (145) and attempted 15 crosses in total, but our back four handled any pressure that was exerted on them with ease.
The team won 56.3% of their duels, made 28 tackles (Bournemouth, 16) and cleared danger on 14 occasions.
William Saliba and Gabriel also made a pair of timely sliding blocks to deny in-form striker Dominic Solanke.
Their desire to make up ground against the speedy front man and succeed with those magnificent challenges typified our clean sheet mentality.
That’s now 13 clean sheet wins on the road since the start of last season.
The captain was purring
After a relatively quiet north London derby, skipper Martin Odegaard was back to his best against Bournemouth.
Off the ball he could often be seen defending inside his own half, but in that right of centre channel further forward our number eight was razor sharp in those pockets between the lines.
In the game’s decisive moments he certainly stepped up for the team, claiming an involvement in all four goals.
During the first half it was Odegaard’s pinpoint left foot cross that sparked the opening goal, and he was calmness personified from the penalty spot to score our second.
Six minutes after half-time the Norwegian’s intelligent footwork inside the penalty box drew a foul from Ryan Christie, that allowed Kai Havertz to score from the spot. And he put the gloss on a five-star showing with a quality left-footed inswinging free kick that was headed home by Ben White.
Just like most of his teammates on the day, Odegaard made things look easy.
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