Bournemouth 1-2 Arsenal: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Young Guns Fire Visitors Into 5th Round

​Arsenal’s youngsters led the side to an impressive 2-1 victory over Bournemouth in the fourth round of the FA Cup, setting up a tie with Portsmouth on the week commencing 2 March.

18-year-old Bukayo Saka lashed the Gunners into an early lead as he found space on the left-hand side of the box, before sending a thunderous strike through the fingertips of Mark Travers and into the roof of the Cherries net.


A quick turn of pace saw Joe Willock go through one-on-one with the ​Bournemouth shot-stopper, but the angle proved too tight for the youngster, who poked his effort into Travers’ midriff. The home side’s reprieve didn’t last long, however. 

Willock’s measured ball picked out the onrushing Saka, giving the left-back the perfect platform to pick out a teammate. He duly obliged, sliding in a low cross to Eddie Nketiah, leaving the unmarked striker with the simplest of tasks as he swept home to put ​Arsenal two ahead.

Bournemouth gained a foothold after the break, with Eddie Howe’s men showing more composure and showing greater care in possession. 

Joe Willock,Ryan Fraser

Their best opportunity came when Emiliano Martinez charged into no man’s land in a vein attempt to clear a loose ball, the Argentine and Shkodran Mustafi combing to cause havoc in the Arsenal defence. 

Fortunately for the pair, Bournemouth couldn’t capitalise on the chaos, Ryan Fraser misdirecting a header at the back post, with that the Cherries last chance of note until the 94th minute, Sam Surridge ghosting into the box and sliding past Martinez as the hosts grabbed a consolation.


Bournemouth

Key Talking Points

There are two ways of looking at this for Howe. 

On the one hand, Bournemouth’s performance was disappointing, to say the least. Their first-half display was unacceptable, with the south coast outfit struggling to keep pace with Arsenal’s intelligent off-the-ball movement.

Howe’s worries were compounded by the strength of the lineup he fielded. This was an experienced group of players, yet they looked like rabbits in headlights against Mikel Arteta’s youthful Gunners team. There’s clearly some cause for concern. 

Eddie Howe

Nevertheless, this was an FA Cup fixture, and it’s plainly obvious which competition Bournemouth are prioritising. 

Several stars will be restored to the side once ​Premier League action resumes. That’ll give Howe a better chance to assess where his team are at mentally. 

Can their 3-0 victory over ​Brighton be a catalyst for change, or was it simply a false dawn for the Cherries?


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Travers (5); Smith (4), Cook (5), Ake (7), Simpson (7*); Surman (6), Cook (5), Gosling (5); H. Wilson (5), Fraser (6), Solanke (5).

Substitutes: C. Wilson (6), Francis (5), Surridge (6).


STAR MAN – Jack Simpson

Bournemouth are not in a winning mindset right now, and it showed.

The Cherries backed off of Arsenal’s attackers far too often, looked timid in possession, and generally lacked energy and purpose around the park. In other words, the comeback was never really on.

Jack Simpson

Aside from a few glimpses of goal midway through the second period, Bournemouth didn’t offer much of a threat to the visitors. It’s therefore only natural that a defender should be their man of the match.

Jack Simpson ensured the left side of Howe’s backline stayed resolute, whereas right-back Adam Smith was frequently exposed by the superb Saka.

If it weren’t for the efforts of Simpson and Nathan Ake, the Cherries would have been totally overrun.


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Arsenal

Key Talking Point

Arteta will have taken plenty of positives from Monday’s win at Bournemouth, having seen a number of his up-and-coming players dazzle in the opening half.

Willock hasn’t set the world alight in 2019/20, but he was Arsenal’s orchestrator tonight, distributing well and incessantly driving at Cherries defenders.

Mikel Arteta

Nketiah likewise looked sharp, as did Gabriel Martinelli and Matteo Guendouzi. In fact, there wasn’t a single young gun who failed to deliver for Arteta, with Saka undoubtedly the side’s instrumental player.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Martinez (6); Bellerin (7), Mustafi (7), Sokratis (7), Saka (8*); Guendouzi (7), Xhaka (8); Pepe (6), Willock (8), Martinelli (8); Nketiah (7).

Substitutes: Holding (6), Ceballos (7), Maitland-Niles (6).


STAR MAN – Bukayo Saka

Saka had a fine evening at the Vitality Stadium, the teenager hitting his third goal of the campaign after walloping a shot beyond Travers.

With displays like this, he’ll soon have the left-back position on lockdown. The academy graduate has proved to Arteta he’s got the attributes for the role, and there’s every chance his coach will keep faith.

Bukayo Saka,Ryan Fraser

​​The form of Saka could also hand Granit Xhaka a lifeline at the Emirates Stadium. The flexibility of Arteta’s system sees the latter cover when his teammate bombs forward, giving the teenager freedom to join attacks and utilise his offensive skill-set.

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Looking Ahead

Bournemouth return to ​Premier League action as they entertain ​Aston Villa at the Vitality on Saturday, before making the journey to Yorkshire for a clash with ​Sheffield United.

Arsenal face a trip to Turf Moor on Sunday, with hosts ​Burnley in good shape, having won three of their last four top-flight fixtures. The Gunners follow that up with a home match versus ​Newcastle United, who haven’t tasted defeat since new year’s day.


For more from Ed Alexander, follow him on Twitter

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