We extended our unbeaten streak to 17 fixtures on Sunday with a hard-fought 2-1 win over AFC Bournemouth - but what did we learn from our Premier League outing?
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was our matchwinner and now has 10 goals this season. Those are the headlines. But it was Auba’s all-round contribution that caught the eye, and Unai Emery praised his willingness to work for the team. Bournemouth left space in behind and Auba looked to exploit that, making run after run off the shoulder of his markers. For a while it was fruitless - either the ball didn’t come or, on one bizarre occasion, he took off on a sprint without realising the ball was behind him. Auba persisted though, and although he spurned one good chance from Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s pass, another run into the box was rewarded with a perfect cross from Sead Kolasinac - and a much-needed winner.
TANK ON A ROLL
Sead Kolasinac didn’t enjoy our last game so much. He was often isolated at left-back as Wolves looked to exploit us down that flank in that 1-1 draw at the Emirates. But this was a far more satisfying experience for Sead. Unai Emery’s decision to field an extra centre back gave him more protection when Bournemouth were in charge early in the game. And, once we’d weathered that storm, Sead stormed forward on the left to leave an indelible mark. It was his cross that was spectacularly converted by Jefferson Lerma. And Sead’s attacking mindset was critical to our winner - his surging run was spotted by Alex Iwobi and his low cross was heavy enough to evade Asmir Begovic but light enough to give Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a tap-in. This was the Bosnian at his buccaneering best.
THREE AT THE BACK
Unai sprang something of a surprise by choosing to play three centre backs for the first time since our Europa League game at Qarabag. As the head coach pointed out afterwards, he used a 3-4-3 formation in pre-season too, and it made sense here. Bournemouth have some lively attacking players who combine well between the lines, and a third centre back closed off some of that space while offering protection to Sead Kolasinac, who was isolated on the left against Wolves. It also enabled Sead and Hector Bellerin to push forward with confidence, knowing we had an extra defender covering behind. Overall, the ploy worked, but will we see it against Spurs?
IWOBI v OZIL
Alex Iwobi and Mesut Ozil are competing for similar roles in the team at the moment, and they might have a private battle for pass of the season too. Mesut’s exquisitely-weighted ball for Hector Bellerin in the build-up to our first goal against Leicester had everyone gushing, and rightly so. Against Bournemouth, Alex did likewise - a perfectly-paced pass inside the full-back for Sead Kolasinac to charge onto and deliver a cross that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converted. Two sublime passes, but whose was best?
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