The match between Arsenal and Bournemouth was an entertaining one, with both sides pushing for a positive result. It was the home side that prevailed in the end, with their quality coming through, but nothing should be taken away from the visitors who pushed them all the way. Alexis Sanchez was the match-winner with two goals, but contributions from Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud helped the Gunners secure a crucial victory to keep in touching distance with the leaders. Here are three things that we learnt:
Arsene Wenger is still having difficulty finding his best midfield pairing
He has changed his midfield pairing on a number of occasions in recent weeks as he tries to find the correct one in the absence of Santi Cazorla. In the squad, he has the options of Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin, Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny. He went with the latter two against Bournemouth and although they were okay, there were problems with the transition phase. Arsenal weren’t as free-flowing and creative as they have been in years gone by, which will be a concern for Arsene Wenger. They need to get back to those levels if they are to challenge for the title and the central midfield is key to that.
On Sunday, Arsenal did manage to get three points, but they weren’t the dominant side by any stretch of the imagination and it can be argued that Bournemouth got the better of their midfield, especially in the first half. Elneny is a good player, but he isn’t able to dictate matches and there is a clear talent difference between him and Cazorla. Meanwhile, Xhaka has been restricted by the role he is being asked to play. He is able to dominate matches, but he hasn’t been partnered with the right player and is carrying out tasks that he shouldn’t be. This is an area that needs to be worked on.