By Jonathan Nagioff (@jonathannagioff)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the winner as Bournemouth’s winless run continued after a pulsating 2-1 defeat against Arsenal on Sunday.
Bournemouth might feel hard done by however, after David Brooks had the ball in the net early on only to be disallowed for offside, with replays showing the Welshman was in fact onside.
Jefferson Lerma’s strange own goal had given the visitors the lead on the half hour mark, but the Cherries rallied to level on the stroke of half time, courtesy of a wonder strike from Josh King.
However, Aubameyang was on hand to tap home Sead Kolasinac’s cross with just over 20 minutes to go to secure the Gunners a pivotal win and extend their unbeaten run to 17 in all competitions.
Bournemouth remain winless in three matches, following defeats against Manchester United and Newcastle.
Boss Eddie Howe made three changes to the side which lost away to Newcastle prior to the international break, with Dan Gosling, Charlie Daniels and Josh King replacing Jordon Ibe, the injured Adam Smith and Lewis Cook, who dropped down to the bench.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery made two changes from the team that faced Wolves two weeks ago.
Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette were replaced by Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, with the latter returning following an ankle problem.
The home side dominated the early stages and any post-international break fatigue was not evident.
On the very first minute, Callum Wilson charged in behind the Arsenal defence however Sokratis was primed to clear the danger.
The Cherries continued to work the ball in behind the Arsenal back line, which was set up as a five-man defence with Gosling finding Josh King, but the forward’s shot was blazed wide.
Bournemouth thought they had their opener on eight minutes, as Brooks latched onto a through ball and finished coolly past Leno, however the linesman cut the celebrations short flagging for offside.
Replays however showed that Shkodran Mustafi had played the youngster onside and the goal should have stood.
The Gunners, who came into the match without a win in three following three draws hit back and almost opened the scoring themselves.
Lucas Torreira’s thunderous strike smashed the post and trickled out to Alex Iwobi, but the winger fired his effort over Asmir Begovic’s crossbar.
Emery’s side appeared the more threatening as the first period wore on but were limited to half chances.
Kolasinac darted into the box and found Iwobi but the Nigerian’s tame effort went straight into the hands of Begovic.
There was another moment of controversy as the home side pressed forward. Brooks laid a free kick off to Fraser which only found Aubameyang, but as the Gunners launched a counter attack, referee Craig Pawson called for the set-piece to be retaken, much to the dismay of the travelling contingent.
The away side had looked the more likely and were rewarded with the opening goal on the half hour mark courtesy of a bizarre own goal from Cherries midfielder Jefferson Lerma.
The Colombian raced back to halt a rapid Gunners counter attack but as Kolasinac whipped in a cross from the left-hand side, Lerma clattered the ball past Begovic on the volley.
Arsenal now with their tails up searched for a second. Alex Iwobi came closest with a curling effort which was expertly tipped away by Begovic.
Hector Bellerin and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were causing problems for the Cherries defence down the right-hand side.
The Spaniard just about found Aubameyang in the area, but despite his cross being cleared by Francis, the ball fell to Mkhitaryan who fired over.
The Gunners looked to be heading to the break in front for the first time this season, but their guard was broken again on the stroke of half time- the third time this term.
Bournemouth launched a quick counter attack, with Callum Wilson finding Brooks on the edge of the area.
The Welshman could have gone for goal himself but unselfishly fed in King, with the forward powerfully striking into the top corner on his left foot.
King, starting his first game in a month after returning from an ankle injury picked up on international duty, took his tally up to five for the season and scored for the first time since a brace against Watford in a 4-0 thrashing in October.
The Cherries appeared buoyant after the break and almost had a second. Fraser burst down the right hand side and drilled a low cross into the box, but Daniels was unable to sort his feet out in time as the ball went behind for a goal kick.
Arsenal did regain the lead in the 65th minute after Iwobi and Kolasinac combined to set up Aubameyang, who easily tapped in from close range.
The Gabon international fired in his 8th Premier League goal of the season to draw level with Sergio Aguero as the league’s top goalscorer.
And the Gunners almost extended their lead minutes later after Aubameyang broke through on his own and found Mkhitaryan, but the Armenian dragged his effort wide.
Eddie Howe threw on Lewis Cook and Junior Stanislas for Gosling and Brooks respectively, as the home side searched for that elusive equaliser.
But Arsenal were still threatening to kill the game off. A lovely dinked ball over the top of the Bournemouth defence found Kolasinac, but the Bosnian international could only find the side netting after a driving run.
The Cherries piled on the pressure in the final ten minutes and had numerous chances to level proceedings.
Stanislas fired a tame effort straight into the hands of Leno following Daniels’ low cross and Lerma had the chance to make up for his own goal but his effort from 25 yards smashed against the post.
Into four minutes of stoppage time, Nathan Ake had the opportunity to add to his solitary goal this season but his header from a corner was palmed away at full stretch by Leno.
The Gunners looked to have secured the win but there was one, last piece of drama to follow.
Substitute Matteo Guendouzi gave away a foul just outside the box, but King’s free kick sailed over the bar, as Arsenal hung on for a vital three points.
The victory means fifth placed Arsenal go within a point of fourth placed Chelsea and three behind Tottenham, ahead of next week’s North London derby.
Bournemouth remain in eighth place, still only a point behind Manchester United in seventh.
Next up for AFC Bournemouth is a trip to league leaders Manchester City next Saturday, kick off at 3pm.
AFC Bournemouth: Begovic (GK), Francis (C), S.Cook, Ake, Daniels, Brooks (Stanislas), Gosling (L.Cook), Lerma, Fraser, King (Mousset), Wilson
Unused Subs: Boruc (GK), Mings, Surman, Defoe
Arsenal: Leno (GK), Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac, Torreira (Guendouzi), Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi (Ramsey), Aubameyang (Nketiah)
Unused Subs: Cech (GK), Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Ozil