Arsenal made it three wins from three matches with a dominating performance on the south coast, comfortably dispatching Bournemouth 3-0. Martin Ødegaard scored in the 5th minute (and again in the 11th) and the Gunners never looked back. Other than a slight dip to start the second half (quickly corrected by William Saliba’s 54th minute marker), Mikel Arteta’s men were in total control of the match. A complete, 90 minute performance.
It’s what you expect against newly-promoted Bournemouth, or at least hope to get, but still you’ve got to play the game. If Arsenal want to finish in the top four and perhaps push higher, this is what they’ve got to do. You need as close to full points from the bottom teams as you can get. And preferably you manage it like Arsenal did today, in comfortable fashion without having to expend too much energy. It didn’t matter today because the Gunners have a full week off until the next match, but when the fixtures start coming thick and fast, being able to rotate players so they don’t play the entire match will pay dividends.
Martin Ødegaard heard your talk about his “slow start” to the season, and to paraphrase Michael Jordan, he took that personally. Bukayo Saka was much more involved, too, and the Arsenal attack wasn’t as nearly as left-side biased as it was in the opening two matches. As I tweeted midweek about the right-side pairing, calma.
Gabriel Jesus was magnificent, again. He created the first goal with a move that echoed what he did last week when he spun Jonny Evans. That is, he initiated contact with the defender to put him off balance and create space to spin around him. A few winding dribbles later, Jesus found Martinelli streaking in on the left. His shot was blocked, but the rebound came to Ødegaard who deposited it into the empty net.
Good things happen around Gabriel Jesus. Good things happen when you run off the ball and shoot. And good things happen when midfielders crash the net.
Jesus was involved in the Arsenal second goal, too. The move started with Ben White surging forward on the ball from defense and overlapping Bukayo Saka. White put the ball into the box and Jesus took a somewhat heavy touch (but was there in the middle of things). Ødegaard ran through, picked it up, and got his brace with a tidy finish to the bottom corner.
Gabriel Jesus had one of his own in the back of the net, but it was called back for offside. It was inconsequential to the outcome of the match, but from what was shown on TV, how could the VAR have possibly made a determination of where the players were? The zoomed in picture was so blurry as to be indecipherable. If that level of quality is what we’re using, even in a minority of instances, we have a real problem with VAR. What if that had come in a close match? With how tight the race for the Top 4 and the Title are, can you imagine if a decision like that made the difference? It would be bedlam.
Two-nil up at halftime is nice. Arsenal controlling a match is great. But the highlight of the day was the third goal. To everyone’s surprise, especially Oleksander Zinchenko, who crumpled to the ground holding his head in shock upon seeing it, William Saliba delicately finessed a first-touch, curling shot into the top corner from just inside the 18. Centerbacks aren’t supposed to do that!
Doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo doo DOO! SALIBA!
Impressive performance from the traveling support, singing “Saliba” to the tune of “Tequila” by The Champs for at least fifteen minutes. According to Mikel Arteta, the players were all doing the same in the locker room after the game.
This team is so much fun. 9 points from 3 matches with 9 scored and 2 against sure as heck beats 0 points from 3, 0 scored, 9 against, doesn’t it?
Arsenal need to keep stacking up the wins. There are some potentially tricky fixtures up ahead, but you’d expect the Gunners to be favored in every match in September. It gets tough in October, however. Banking as many points as possible before Spurs, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Chelsea in four of seven matches is important.