It’s difficult to say why Arsenal’s first half performances have been so sluggish this season.
Their second half efforts have been in complete contrast, full of energy and endeavour, if you discount the disappointing Palace encounter and the smash and grab point at Wolves.
These International breaks hardly help matters by breaking up any possible momentum. Frankly, I’d rather watch Arsenal seven days a week than a dozen England games but I might be in a minority there.
Bournemouth started this game in 6th place in the premier league, with Arsenal one place above in 5th and the difference was just five points.
Both sides had everything to play for but it was Bournemouth who took control early on.
If proof were needed of additional investment at the beginning of 2019, there was plenty to suggest that a central defender is a minimum requirement.
Arsenal looked nervy and uncomfortable at the back at the risk of being repetitive.
It took 20 minutes for the gunners to get going and push Bournemouth back with Brooks and Daniels looking the pick of the Cherries.
Brooks had the ball nestling in the back of the net after only 9 minutes but the eagle eyed linesman justifiably ruled his effort offside.
It was enough of a shock to make Arsenal rock back on their heels and look in distress. Aubameyang and Kolasinac both went close as Arsenal woke from their Sunday slumber to press and apply tangible pressure.
Up until that point it’s fair to say that the visitors were pretty much held hostage in their own half, resigned to watching the neat and decisive interplay from their hosts.
As a direct result of Arsenal’s new found ambition and appetite, Lemar put the ball in his own net in the most cringeworthy fashion.
Kolasinac thundered down the left and cut the ball back for the outstretched foot of the Columbian to power it past his own keeper.
This is the type of luck Bournemouth are getting at the moment. They had the lions share of possession and looked to be in control but gave away a clumsy and unnecessary goal.
The Cherries dusted themselves down and Aké was thwarted by the alert Bernd Leno.
This was quickly followed by an long range shot from Iwobi and a loss of control by Mkhitaryan in a crucial area.
The Armenian seemed to have his boots on the wrong feet and moments later he put one into orbit on the edge of the hosts area.
With half time approaching and despite a rocky start, Arsenal had found a way to snuff out Bournemouth, who couldn’t fashion a goal worthy chance and the gunners looked strangely comfortable for the slender lead.
Aké was bundled over in the Arsenal penalty area by Kolasinac, who lived up to his name of the tank but nothing was given because there was nothing to give.
Bournemouth surged forward again and Brooks was ruled offside again, I doubt he was but Leno swallowed up the threat like an industrial vacuum cleaner.
Bournemouth sensed a goal and an exchange between Wilson and Brooks presented King with an opportunity that he clattered in and it was all square with sense of deja vu of another draw or worse.
The second half was a generally sloppy affair with neither looking to have the upper hand.
A series of half chances and nearly moments that amounted to nothing much.
The match was there to be taken and the side that started to assert themselves would surely get a vital 3 points. However, Arsenal had slipped into a rhythm which seemed in need of a clever substitution and one pondered if Ramsey would appear to put the squeeze on.
For Aubameyang, it looked like one of those days where the script portrayed him as a the striker who could find the space but not the target.
That all changed when Kolasinac cleverly found the Gabonese hot shot who rarely misses these type of ‘on a plate’ opportunities.
Mkhitaryan could have got a third around the 70 minute mark drawing a decent save from Begovic, if that had gone in the corks would have been popping in North London.
Yet Arsenal had to maintain their shape and focus because Bournemouth knew that December was a month where the wheels could come off the wagon with a fixture list that read like a dozen cup finals.
Stanislas looked extremely dangerous and in the 80th minute, it should have been 2-2 but he seemed to have his laces tied together and his brain went wandering. The slightest touch would have seen the net bulge and that was the moment that you felt the Cherries had blown it.
Yet, back they came with renewed spirit and the villian of Bournemouth’s own goal, Lerma, clattered Leno’s right post.
It was far from over, Stanislas was making a good case for a full 90 minutes instead of a cameo role by running Arsenal ragged and Eddie Howe, under the circumstances, must have regretted that particular faux par.
With time running out Kolasinac forced Leno to tip over the bar from a back heel of all things, leaving the Arsenal fans craving a stiff drink.
The mint green men of Arsenal looked delighted and slightly relieved as the whistle went after 5 minutes over the 90 and with no bothersome Internationals to navigate, Unai Emery could concentrate on oiling a spluttering Arsenal engine with two massively important games ahead.