The most frantic game of the season so far, Arsenal came from behind after conceding a mere nine seconds into the game to maintain the lead at the top of the table to five points. Billing scored the second fastest ever goal in the Premier League, just 9.11 seconds. Arteta’s men had three changes from the Wednesday night win; Tomiyasu for White in defence, Partey for Jorginho and Vieira for Xhaka. Trossard kept his place as Eddie has picked up a minor injury but isn’t expected to be out for too long.
Bournemouth kicked off, putting the ball down the right wing. It was crossed into the box and not a single Arsenal man managed to make any contact for it as it fell for Billing who never had any doubt as he tapped the ball in and sent the stadium into shock. The Premier League leaders were losing to relegation battle Bournemouth. This didn’t seem to deter Arsenal, neither the players nor the fans, as the fans sang so loudly, encouraging the players who maintained a high tempo and consistently put Bournemouth under pressure. Within five minutes Ødegaard and Saka had had three attempts between them. Bournemouth had the next big chance, but Ramsdale put any worries to bed.
At the twenty minute mark, disaster struck for Arsenal, as Trossard went off with muscle strain and Emile Smith Rowe replaced him. It was amazing to see Smith Rowe get some real minutes under his belt but it was also worrying as he has hardly played this season. Then the first of many controversial VAR reviews; a dirty tackle on Tomiyasu in the box, but VAR didn’t seem bothered by it and the boys got back to it.
The second half started with Ben White replacing Tomiyasu, who definitely hadn’t put in his best performance. Bournemouth had a corner early into the second half and Sensei had a clear shot at goal and didn’t disappoint for the visitors. Suddenly a 2 – 0 uphill struggle seemed a lot more daunting.
It didn’t take the Gunners long to respond, as Partey scored his first goal since October. Following a corner, Neto punched the ball away and Smith Rowe provided an assist for Partey to tap in, just managing to escape the defenders. All of a sudden the job seemed doable.
Arsenal then had another penalty shout which wasn’t awarded and Smith Rowe was substituted off for fellow Hale End graduate, Reiss Nelson. Nelson provided the pace down the left hand side, and he managed to beat the defender to set up a cross for Ben White, who had his shot pushed out of the goal but goal line technology deemed it had crossed the line. Ben White’s first goal couldn’t have come at a better time.
Saka and Martinelli continued to have chances saved and Bournemouth were more than happy to waste time and break up the flow of play. This time wasting resulted in six minutes of added time, which ended up being extended due to yet more time wasting from the visitors. In the 97th minute, with the last ball of the game, an Ødegaard cross was cleared to Reiss Nelson on the edge of the box who smashed the ball into the top right hand corner and the Emirates went mad. I’ve never seen anything like it; substitutes and the entire bench found itself on the pitch, Arteta was running down the touchline and all the staff were ecstatic. The players couldn’t believe it, with Ben White winding up Neto, Ødegaard threw himself on the floor and Gabriel collapsed, looking on the verge of tears. This is probably the biggest goal of the Emirates era and I don’t think this one will be forgotten for a very long time.
It’s games like this that remind the team how much the fans back them that could be the difference between first and second place, and has definitely developed the belief that they can be champions for the first time in almost twenty years. Next up is the Europa League, as the team fly out to Portugal to face Sporting, before they’re back to Premier League action on Sunday when we play seventh place Fulham away at Craven Cottage.
Written by: Abby Goodson (@_abbygoodson)