Saturday, November 18, 2017

Arsenal 3 Bournemouth 0: Sanchez given frosty Emirates return after Welbeck inspires victory

SoccerNews in English Premier League 9 Sep 2017

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Alexis Sanchez returned to a mixed reception as Arsenal eased a tense Emirates Stadium with two first-half goals in a 3-0 Premier League win over Bournemouth.

Sanchez was back on club duty, having seen his push for a move to Manchester City fall flat before the transfer deadline amid a miserable international break with Chile, and made way for Alexandre Lacazette in the starting XI, before emerging to a mixture of cheers and jeers in the second period.

A 4-0 thrashing at Liverpool a fortnight previously and uncertainty over Sanchez’s situation had seen Arsene Wenger come under pressure just months into a new two-year contract, but his players rediscovered their groove to comfortably dispatch Eddie Howe’s strugglers.

Danny Welbeck nodded in with Arsenal’s first attack and laid on a second for Lacazette, before finishing again himself after the break.

Wenger had talked up his side as title contenders before kick-off and the reaction on the pitch was promising – even if it would be unfair to evaluate the accuracy of the manager’s claim against a Bournemouth outfit that scarcely looked like landing a blow.

Howe’s men remain in the bottom three after four defeats this season, while Arsenal move onto six points ahead of a tough week which sees Cologne visit London in the Europa League before Wenger takes his side to champions Chelsea.

Arsenal’s nerves were settled by a goal within six minutes, the recalled Sead Kolasinac making the difference with an incisive run and cross on the left to tee up Welbeck for a close-range header.

Asmir Begovic parried Granit Xhaka’s low strike clear as Kolasinac made progress again, before the goalkeeper saved brilliantly from a Mesut Ozil free-kick.

Xhaka then failed to keep his 20-yard effort down after Lacazette’s fine hold-up play as Arsenal continued to pile the pressure on the floundering visitors.

And Lacazette deservedly doubled the hosts’ lead shortly before the half-hour mark with a cool finish high past Begovic from Welbeck’s pass.

Lacazette could have scored again 10 minutes later when Begovic hurriedly hacked a clearance against Welbeck, but the former Chelsea man smothered the subsequent shot before accosting Tyrone Mings for a shoddy back pass.

While Bournemouth were slightly fortunate to escape a penalty award as Adam Smith handled Ozil’s volley, the visitors regrouped at the break and initially threatened as Jermain Defoe crashed a header against the post.

But Welbeck’s 50th-minute goal – fired hard and low across Begovic from the left-hand side of the area – ensured Arsenal would cruise through the remainder of the second-half.

Ozil thrashed wide and Welbeck lifted a delicate right-footed just beyond the left-hand upright, with Wenger then introducing Sanchez from the bench 15 minutes from time.

The Chilean could not get on the scoresheet despite one stoppage-time effort – well saved by Begovic –  but sections of the home fans chanted his name throughout the closing stages.

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