Mikel Arteta breezed into the Emirates in almost Nanny McPhee style, looking to encourage unruly, misguided, slovenly and mischievous players to reconnect with their potential and talent. Although time has been in short supply, it would appear that he has managed to accelerate that process to some degree in his first game in charge against Bournemouth.
All the usual suspects were on view, you know the ones, those that had been massively misfiring under Unai Emery such as Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil.
Against Bournemouth, there was intensity and desire. There was commitment and energy, which was typified by the efforts of Mesut Ozil, who looked for the ball when out of possession and showed signs of wanting to make things happen.
Gloves around the ground, we’re entitled to be nervous as the German trudged up and down the pitch looking for a pass and but for all the chopping and changing in his own personal circumstances, he presented signs of what he has left in his locker.
Granit Xhaka, my usual whipping boy, actually had an impressive game for the Gunners for a change. Everything seemed to go through him as Arsenal advanced and he seemed comfortable and productive in his new role.
In general, there can’t have been many that failed to notice the difference in Arsenal against Bournemouth. There was a fresher feel to this side which looked a little more peachy but still fell short of a fully functional, free flowing, artistic Arsenal.
However, good performances from those I’ve already named will make even the most pessimistic fans happy and with a few additions in January, Arsenal should finally get their season underway.
Those priorities remain in the defence which is almost non existent due to injuries, suspension and a lack of quality. Arteta still hasn’t got Bellerin, Tierney and Holding and Chambers omission due to suspension must have been the final kick in the groin.
Last week’s Man of the Match would have been preferred to any of the makeshift defence in this game against Bournemouth and Saka and Maitland Niles struggled without being embarrassed but against better opposition, they may be found wanting.
8 yellow cards, 4 each, will tell you that the sides were up for the rigours of this routine fixture, which was played out in torrential rain.
Once again playing out from the back put Arsenal behind and Leno may have to accept some responsibility for a poor choice of pass to David Luiz on the left hand side, which saw Arsenal dispossessed and had Gosling stretching the net from close range (35).
Arsenal had ‘the talk’ at half time and whatever Arteta said found its way into the legs of the Arsenal players who tried manfully to get back on level terms. Aubameyang, who looked like someone had reminded him that he was a top striker, buried his chance in the 63rd minute and looked lively throughout.
It wasn’t as bad a game as the Everton clash but Arsenal’s upcoming tussle against Chelsea will add some much needed perspective. Bournemouth were average, only offering occasional threats and both sides would have benefited from an injection of genuine quality, but Arteta will go to bed this evening thinking that there is still a lot to do.
Worse still, is that he hasn’t got his best players available or simply hasn’t signed them yet, but let’s be grateful that the signs look good and that Arteta looks like he could eventually rescue Arsenal.