Arsenal ended a run of three successive draws as Alexis Sanchez scored twice and Theo Walcott once to secure victory over Bournemouth.
The pressure was on the Gunners after rivals Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City won on Saturday, and they were gifted the lead when Steve Cook’s poor backpass allowed Sanchez to calmly side-foot past Adam Federici.
But Callum Wilson equalised with a penalty after referee Mike Jones judged the striker was fouled by Nacho Monreal and, against a rattled home side, Bournemouth missed two good chances when an unmarked Adam Smith headed over before Brad Smith had an angled shot saved.
Arsenal almost restored their lead when a Sanchez strike came off the crossbar but Walcott did score when he headed in a Monreal cross.
Monreal escaped conceding another penalty when a Simon Francis pass struck him on the arm in the area before keeper Petr Cech made a crucial save from Benik Afobe.
Sanchez made sure of the win when he slotted in an Olivier Giroud cross, moving the Gunners three points behind top-flight leaders Chelsea and two shy of Liverpool and City.
Relive Arsenal v Bournemouth
Sanchez and Walcott give Arsenal edge
Walcott’s second child was born on Friday, and he marked the occasion with his sixth league goal of the campaign, already one more than he managed in the whole of last season.
The winger’s tally is his best in the top flight since 2012-13, when he scored 14, and he helped provide a much-needed win for Arsene Wenger’s side as they extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 19 games.
Arsenal had struggled to produce their best and most fluent football in some recent high-profile games, having drawn with Tottenham, Manchester United and Paris St-Germain in their past three outings, and, at times, looked less than secure against the Cherries.
However, even though the Gunners – with 51.8% of the ball – did not dominate possession as much as they are used to, they did show signs of a return to form, especially in the second half.
Sanchez’s work-rate and threat in front of goal are key to their prospects. He ended a run of four Arsenal games without a goal as he took his league tally to eight for the season.
“We started to click again, even though it was in patches,” said Walcott.
Bournemouth give Arsenal scare
The scoreline did not reflect Bournemouth’s efforts and, not only will they be left to rue referee Jones’ decision not to give a penalty for Monreal’s handball, they will also regret some of their missed chances.
They took the game to the Gunners and the result might have been different had Smith done better than heading high from 10 yards after Nathan Ake nodded a free-kick back across goal.
Smith also appeared to make the wrong decision when he chose to have an angled shot, which was saved by Cech, rather than square the ball for Wilson.
Cech also denied Afobe late on as the visitors matched the Gunners in terms of shots on target, with both registering three apiece.
“We are disappointed,” said Cherries boss Eddie Howe, who was without on-loan Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, as he was ineligible to play against his parent club. “We came here to win and leave with our heads held high.”
Man of the match – Alexis Sanchez
What they said:
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “We got better during the game but Bournemouth played well. They started with a high intensity. We had to improve our level in the second half and we did.
“Our players questioned themselves a little bit after a few draws but we have responded.”
On Mathieu Debuchy, the right-back who went off injured after making his first start for the club since November 2015: “It was the backheel that killed him. We are devastated for him.”
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe: “I thought we were good and it was a really tight game. With minutes to go, we’re thinking we can get a deserved equaliser.
“To come here and create the number of chances we did is a really positive thing.
“We are a football team and high-pressing team. We tried to show that while trying to get a result. I thought the players did it superbly at times.
“We should have had two penalties added to the mix and it could have been very different.”
Key stats – Bournemouth end their Arsenal drought
- Callum Wilson’s goal was Bournemouth’s first against Arsenal in any competition.
- The Gunners have conceded a penalty in consecutive home games for the first time in the Premier League.
- Arsenal have had seven shots on target in their past four games in all competitions, and have scored seven goals.
- Only Crystal Palace (eight) have scored more headed goals than Arsenal (six) in the Premier League this season.
- Olivier Giroud has been involved in more goals from the bench than any other Premier League player this season (three goals, one assist).
- Wilson’s goal was his ninth in the Premier League – more than any other Bournemouth player.
Arsenal are in action on Wednesday when they host Southampton in an EFL Cup quarter-final at 19:45 GMT, while Bournemouth’s next game takes them to Liverpool for a 13:30 GMT kick-off on Sunday, 4 December.
Match ends, Arsenal 3, Bournemouth 1.
Second Half ends, Arsenal 3, Bournemouth 1.
Attempt missed. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez.
Gabriel (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Gabriel (Arsenal).
Adam Smith (Bournemouth) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Offside, Bournemouth. Nathan Aké tries a through ball, but Benik Afobe is caught offside.
Goal! Arsenal 3, Bournemouth 1. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Olivier Giroud.
Attempt missed. Lys Mousset (Bournemouth) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Adam Smith with a cross.
Dan Gosling (Bournemouth) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Dan Gosling (Bournemouth).
Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Steve Cook.
Attempt blocked. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Olivier Giroud.
Attempt missed. Mesut Özil (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Aaron Ramsey.
Attempt missed. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Aaron Ramsey.
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Jordon Ibe (Bournemouth).
Offside, Bournemouth. Jordon Ibe tries a through ball, but Benik Afobe is caught offside.
Gabriel (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Lys Mousset (Bournemouth).
Attempt missed. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) header from the left side of the six yard box misses to the left. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez with a cross.
Substitution, Bournemouth. Lys Mousset replaces Brad Smith.
Brad Smith (Bournemouth) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Mesut Özil (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Brad Smith (Bournemouth).
Foul by Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal).
Dan Gosling (Bournemouth) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt saved. Benik Afobe (Bournemouth) right footed shot from very close range is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Simon Francis.
Corner, Bournemouth. Conceded by Laurent Koscielny.
Substitution, Arsenal. Olivier Giroud replaces Theo Walcott.
Substitution, Arsenal. Aaron Ramsey replaces Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Harry Arter (Bournemouth) is shown the yellow card.
Corner, Bournemouth. Conceded by Laurent Koscielny.
Corner, Bournemouth. Conceded by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Substitution, Bournemouth. Jordon Ibe replaces Junior Stanislas because of an injury.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Junior Stanislas (Bournemouth) because of an injury.
Attempt missed. Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez.
Substitution, Bournemouth. Benik Afobe replaces Callum Wilson.
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/38041874