Monday, 8 February 2016

Arsenal's quality shone through

Some times you have to accept that the better team won. Against Arsenal, AFCB could not impose themselves on the level that they had been able to against other teams in recent games. It was not a case of them being fragile or tiered, but rather Arsenal were quicker to the ball and more precise in their passing and finishing. Arsenal are a team that are playing in the last 16 of the Champions League and for AFCB that is a big step up in quality.

Still I am not displeased with how the Cherries played. I expect Eddie Howe will know that there are things they could have done better, but they had a go in teh second half which is what the fans wanted to see. I felt the singing died back a bit when Arsenal scored their two goals and it took a while to try and lift the team after that. Still the second half was an improvement just like we saw when they went 2-0 down against Southampton. You can say the damage had been done by then and that Arsenal took their foot off the pedal, but Arsene Wenger admitted that even the Gunners were nervous about the 0-2 lead that they had. If AFCB had got a goal back it would have been a much better contest as the Cherries have already shown that when they get a goal they can really put teams under great pressure.
Arsenal players just had that bit more on the day.
Playing Arsenal was not so easy though. They always had an out ball and Koscielny and Gabriel never found that they were put under the kind of pressure that would yield a mistake. Benik Afobe ran his socks off but never really got to take them on or turn them in the first half, and a lot of that was because the Cherries had to be mindful of what Sanchez and Ozil were doing in midfield and the speed at which Arsenal could attack on either wing. Even at the end, when AFCB were getting close to getting a goal, there was Petr Cech who defied belief with his excellent point blank save from Steve Cook.

I liked Eddie Howe's comment before the game when asked how he was going to cope with Arsenal's attacking threat and he just said "It would help to have 13 players on the pitch." Sadly, that is not quite within the rules of the game, but if Arsenal had lost Flamini after his challenge on Gosling on 12 minutes, it would have changed everything. Instead the finishing power of Ozil and Oxlaide-Chamberlain were the difference and all over the pitch it was hard to pinpoint many areas where you could say an AFCB player was clearly playing better than his opposite number.

This was a game to enjoy and learn from but not to get dejected about. Now AFCB have to concentrate on how to ensure they put in a big performance against Stoke City.

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