Arsenal 1-0 Bournemouth
- Goal: David Luiz (£5.8m)
- Assist: Nicolas Pepe (£9.3m)
- Bonus: Luiz x3, Calum Chambers (£4.4m), Sead Kolasinac (£5.4m)
A meeting between two of the more suspect defences in the Premier League failed to result in the goal-fest that many Fantasy managers were hoping for.
Arsenal and Bournemouth are both in the bottom four for attempts on goal conceded this season and had only one clean sheet between them going into Sunday’s match.
This corresponding fixture ended 5-1 in 2018/19 but despite the attack-first mindset of both head coaches, clear-cut chances were fairly thin on the ground and a David Luiz (£5.8m) header was all that separated the two clubs at the full-time whistle.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0m) and Callum Wilson (£7.9m) hadn’t blanked at all in 2019/20 coming into this encounter but their purple patches would have to come to an end eventually, not least because they have been defying the numbers all season.
Overlooking Bournemouth’s Gameweek 7 meeting with West Ham (a game in which he had half a dozen goal attempts), Wilson has only had eight shots in seven starts this campaign.
Aubameyang, meanwhile, had scored with exactly a third of his efforts ahead of Sunday’s clash with the Cherries, a goal conversion rate (33.3%) that is seldom maintained over the course of an entire season – although he has been one of the best-performing strikers for that statistic since his move to north London.
Blanks duly arrived at the Emirates on Sunday but both players had clear sights of goal – although Aubameyang’s stoppage-time shot that hit the post would have been subsequently ruled out by VAR if it had found the back of the net.
Wilson’s only recorded goal attempt of the match also came seconds before the full-time whistle but he had a better chance to score earlier in the second half, dancing through the Arsenal backline and rounding Bernd Leno (£5.0m), only to fail to find Joshua King (£6.3m) with a pass when an empty goal beckoned (admittedly from a tight angle).
Eddie Howe said of that chance:
My natural instinct when he went round the goalkeeper was that he was going to try and go for goal but I don’t know the angle that he was left with. He’s made the decision to try and pass it. He’s got to make the decision in a split-second.
A glance at the Season Ticker should fill owners of Wilson and Aubameyang with optimism.
Bournemouth next face the two worst sides in the division for goals conceded (Norwich and Watford, who have shipped 41 goals between them), while Arsenal don’t face another big six club until mid-December.
The supporting cast of attacking assets didn’t have much to crow about either, with Nicolas Pepe (£9.4m) collecting an assist for Luiz’s goal but otherwise failing to show enough to warrant his inflated price tag.
Bukayo Saka (£4.5m) worked hard on the opposite flank without really threatening an attacking return and Alexandre Lacazette‘s (£9.3m) ever-nearing comeback will likely affect the teenage winger’s minutes in the near future, with Aubameyang potentially being moved back out to the left.
There was another blank for Dani Ceballos (£5.5m), while Harry Wilson (£6.1m) was fairly anonymous and Ryan Fraser (£7.1m), returning from illness, failed to make the starting XI for the fourth game in a row.
King was again deployed down the left flank of a 4-4-2 and, to the detriment of his owners, most of his good work was done out wide – although he was only a Calum Chambers (£4.4m) boot away from turning in Callum Wilson’s cut-back from point-blank range.
Chambers and the two defences indeed deserve some credit for the lack of gilt-edged chances, with Arsenal showing slow signs of improvement at the back over the last two Gameweeks and allowing the fewest number of shots in the box in that period.
Praising his defence, Unai Emery said:
We want to play with style, creating chances, being competitive and being consistent in the 90 minutes. We want to use that way. Our objective was first to win, and after to take that way.
In the first half, we did that. In the second half, they were pushing in some moments with their game plan and we struggled. We were defensively solid and strong. In the first half, it was a good example of the way [we want to play].
Asked about when the likes of Hector Bellerin (£5.4m), Kieran Tierney (£5.4m) and Rob Holding (£4.5m) could challenge for a league start, Emery replied:
Kieran and Rob are closer to playing. I think Rob Holding can play 90 minutes with a good performance. Now we are also working with David Luiz and Sokratis, but really, I am very happy. He is going to have a chance to play a lot of matches.
Kieran Tierney is closer to us, he played on Thursday and today he was on the bench if we needed him. Hector Bellerin needs a little more time, more matches and more training. This international break is going to be important for him. I think he will be closer to starting for us in the next matches in the Premier League.
A Bournemouth strength and an Arsenal weakness were again in evidence, though: the Cherries have recorded the most attempts from set plays in the Premier League this season, while the Gunners have allowed the second-highest number of chances from dead-ball situations.
It was perhaps no surprise, then, that two of Bournemouth’s best chances came from corners or free-kicks: Dominic Solanke (£5.4m) nodding wide with the goal gaping and Steve Cook (£5.0m) heading over late on.
Diego Rico (£4.1m) might not be clocking up too many clean sheets in the Bournemouth defence but so long as he is keeping Lloyd Kelly (£4.4m) out of the side then the Cherries’ reliance on set-piece deliveries works in his favour: the budget FPL asset is ranked second for successful corners since his return to the side in Gameweek 5.
Howe said of Kelly, who was among the substitutes, after full-time:
Great for him to be involved.
We rate him really highly and think he can play the dual role, the centre-half and the full-back role, which is a great thing to have in our armoury. A natural left-footer.
We like him a lot but this is really useful time for him to learn and develop himself while he’s not in the starting XI, so he becomes the complete player.
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Chambers, Luiz, Sokratis, Kolasinac; Xhaka, Guendouzi; Pepe (Martinelli 63′), Ceballos (Willock 75′), Saka (Torreira 83′); Aubameyang.
Bournemouth XI (4-4-2): Ramsdale; Stacey (Francis 80′), Steve Cook, Ake, Rico; Harry Wilson (Danjuma 80′), Lerma, Billing, King; Callum Wilson, Solanke (Fraser 63′).
Lessons learned from Gameweek 8
- Brighton 3-0 Tottenham Hotspur
- Burnley 1-0 Everton
- Liverpool 2-1 Leicester City
- Norwich City 1-5 Aston Villa
- Watford 0-0 Sheffield United
- West Ham United 1-2 Crystal Palace
- Arsenal 1-0 Bournemouth
- Manchester City 0-2 Wolves
- Southampton 1-4 Chelsea
- Newcastle United 1-0 Manchester United
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