Monday, 8 February 2016

Arsenal defeat Cherries 0-2 and are back on title charge

Match Report
7 February 2016
AFCB 0 v 2 Arsenal
Attendance: 11,357

AFCB and Arsenal come out of the tunnel.
While AFCB fans might have been hoping that the Gunners barren spell in front of goal might continue a while longer, two strikes from Ozil and Oxlaide-Chamberlaine just 90 seconds apart in the first half put pay to that. The sunshine did not last long at Dean Court and once the wind picked up in Arsenal's sails they were very adept at keeping the ball and snuffing out what efforts AFCB could manage. Petr Cech was always there when Harry Arter and Adam Smith might have got AFCB on the score board in the first half and even as time ran out and Josh King and Steve Cook looked to get something out of the game the Arsenal back line kept a clean sheet and put themselves firmly back in the title race with their next game against Leicester City.

AFCB players and mascots.
The Arsenal team.
The Cherries line up was kept the same for the starting 11, but Glenn Murray was taken out of the match day squad as Junior Stanislas made his way onto the bench.

Harry gives his Arsenal fan view before the game. 

Match Day Gallery shows more photos.
Captains in the middle.
Arsenal kick off.
The match started with a characteristic question mark against the officials when Adam Smith seemed to have won a corner but only a goal kick was awarded. AFCB were looking for a quick start and Arter almost played Pugh in but Petr Cech was out fast to clear.

This was going to be a tough afternoon for the Cherries though. That was evident when Ozil almost ran straight through the middle only to be stopped by Steve Cook who was at full stretch to get a despairing tackle in.

A poor challenge by Mathieu Flamini on Dan Gosling saw the first yellow card and the Arsenal man might have considered himself lucky not to have dismissed. Arsenal were finding their groove and Aaron Ramsey's simple chip over the top left Alexis Sanchez in the clear on the left side of the box, only his finish landed in row P of the North stand! Ozil then went for a speculative fall under challenge from Adam Smith but referee Keith Friend played on.

In fact the referee was perhaps letting too much go as Arter was also caught and clearly in pain but Arsenal played on for quite some time before finally putting the ball out. Arsenal were quickly back on the attack with Surman having to block a shot from Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain, but AFCB's defence was broken on 24 minutes when Ramsey crossed from the centre-right and Giroud headed down in the box to a waiting Mesut Ozil who volleyed past Francis and Cook into the roof of the net with Boruc eaten by the pace if the shot - 0-1 to the Arsenal!

We'd hardly got over the disappointment when Sanchez' cross from the left passed Francis' outstretched leg and Cook gifted the ball to Ramsey who played the ball wide on the right for Oxlaide-Chamberlain who hit an early shot across Boruc's right hand and in off the foot of the far post. It was 0-2 and Dean Court had been silenced. Precision finishing!

But with only 26 minutes gone there was a long way to go. Arter did his best to get a goal back by making a sharp turn on the left edge of the Arsenal box before getting a rasping shot away that Petr Cech turned over the bar, one handed. Ritchie then ran through the back of Monreal when both were in the box but even though Arsenal's number 18 hit the deck in a heap, Kevin Friend said no penalty.

A few minutes later Ritchie was clumsily challenged by Monreal but no penalty was given. A break by Pugh looked like it would bring an AFCB goal but he was pulled up for a handball.

Arsenal were now in control and Giroud won a corner off of Adam Smith with AFCB's right back looking despondent at not turning the moment into a throw. Daniels was now getting more involved and made a great run up the left and played a pass to Ritchie, but AFCB's number 30 could only shoot over. A final chance of the half fell to Adam Smith. He was played in by a long ball from Andrew Surman and took it down well on his chest only for Petr Chech to smother the effort before Smith could get a clear sight of goal. That was half time 0-2.

It's not quite going to plan.
Gosling and Afobe get ready to start the second half.

Second Half
Benik Afobe was working hard without being able to create much as he always had to beat two or three players just to get a pass away. AFB were going to have a go though and Ritchie was the first to shoot over in the second half.

A lot of AFCB fans jumped up in the 52nd minute when Gosling worked some magic and Adam Smith ran through on the angle, turning Koscielny, only to fire into the side netting. Pugh also got into the box but saw his shot go sideways across the box.

Arsenal were not quiet for long. A corner gave Giroud a good chance to extend the lead but he headed right at Boruc who made the save.

The Cherries kept trying with Oxlaide-Chamberlain blocking a shot from Pugh that went out for a corner. Sanchez was always a threat on the break but Daniels used his cool head to dribble the ball out of the box after Sanchez had fired a low cross in.

A shot from distance from Gosling was another effort that went limply over and Eddie Howe made a double substitution on 66 minutes with Gosling being replaced by King and Stanislas coming on from Ritchie. A minute later, Arsenal responded replacing Oxlaie-Chamberlain for Francis Coquelin. The offside flag kept going up for Arsenal, but they kept coming forward with Ramsey shooting wide.

King and Stanislas were creating some nervousness in the Arsenal box but Petr Cech soon jumped on the loose ball.

Meanwhile, Afobe's race was run and Grabban had the last 13 minutes to make an impact.Kieran Gibbs then replaced Sanchez. Stanislas kept some pressure on Arsenal with a low driven cross that came off Koscielny for a corner. Daniels also won a corner off of Bellerin, but none of the corners seemed to cause any problems. Stanislas was whipping some great crosses in and one just would not come down for King in the box in time and Gabriel managed to clear in time.

More worrying was a sliced swing by Cook that so nearly led to a goal but Boruc made a save.

Smith then put in a good cross for King but Cech made the save high to high left from the header. Home fans really knew that this was a game that they were not going to see an AFCB goal in when Lewis Grabban found Stanislas and his shot was deflected for a corner. 

Smith again provided a deep cross that was headed back on the left by Pugh and Josh King gave a shot pass to Steve Cook on the six yard box. Cook blasted his shot but Cech put out his left foot to save it and then the follow up by Arter was hit low to Cech's left, but he saved that as well. Three minutes of added time did not seem a lot for all the subs but as soon as Giroud had slouched off to allow Theo Wallcot to come on the final whistle went.

Arter centre picture.
The players congratulate each other.

There were two correct score predictions: Jamie Williams 
@afcbjamie and James Rood @james_rood both predicted a 0-2 win to Arsenal and after picking the names from a hat JAMIE WILLIAMS wins the AFCB earphones.
Arsenal were professional. They came for the win and did enough to get it. While AFCB knocked on the door they really had to get a goal early on or at least in the early part of the second half but it just wouldn't come. Benik Afobe did not really get much of a look in and any shots the midfield had were largely blazed over the bar. Arsenal had shown clinical finishing and that together with some carful game management was easily enough for Arsenal to get a comfortable away win.

Boruc, Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels, Surman, Ritchie (Stanislas 66), Gosling (King 66), Arter, Pugh, Afobe (Grabban 77)

Cherries' Subs
Federici, Distin, Grabban, O'Kane, Iturbe, King, Stanislas

AFCB RatingsBoruc 7, Smith 6, Francis 6, Cook 5, Daniels 7, Surman 6, Ritchie 5, Gosling 5,
Arter 7, Pugh 6, Afobe 6

There are more battles to be won.
Eddie will look to find more points this February, but nothing today.

Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Coquelin 67), 
Özil, Sanchez (Gibbs 82), Giroud (Walcott 90+3)

Arsenal Subs
Gibbs, Mertesacker, Ospina, Walcott, Campbell, Coquelin, Iwobi

Ref Watch: Kevin Friend 5/10 just needed to stop play when players were clearly injured and shame he did not see bad early goal kick decision. Possible pen against Ritchie but I don't mind him not giving that.  

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