Yesterday I spoke about the importance of not taking Bournemouth too lightly. There had been a few Arsenal fans that I’d seen who had been talking about needing to bring up the goal difference against a team on the beach, but teams like Bournemouth are dangerous because there is no pressure and they can play with freedom, so the name of the game yesterday was about concentration, professionalism and a strength to impose ourselves on our own turf.

And that is exactly what we got from Arsenal.

Honestly, I was so impressed with the way these Arsenal players handled that match yesterday, because especially after the first 15 minutes – when I think we’d racked about about eight chances – there could have been an element of nerves setting in that it might be “one of those days”. I’m in Munich at the moment and so had to watch the game from my phone and even after 30 minutes and no goal scored, that’s what I was saying to The Management in a Bavarian beer garden. I was certainly concerned about the repeat of the Villa game in which we’d done everything but score in that first half and so when Kai Havertz went down and the penalty was given and confirmed by VAR, I certainly felt relief. I have to say though if we’re being fair, it was probably not really enough contact to make Havertz go down. He left his foot there, there was clear contact, but if we’re talking about the lack of contact from Kulusevski last weekend (which wasn’t a penalty in my opinion), we have to say the same about the same level of contact yesterday. It’s one of those weird ones that whatever the on field decision is the VAR won’t overturn it. If the referee says it’s not a penalty then I suspect VAR don’t even properly look at it and we go in to halftime on level terms.

Saka slotted it in and we go in at halftime one up which was a super soft way to be ahead, but as Iraola said afterwards, we were the better team and deserved to be ahead. It just probably wasn’t a penalty and perhaps we got away with one.

But you can also argue that Bournemouth ‘got away with one’ too, because how on earth Ryan Christie stayed on the pitch is baffling to me. His high boot up as high as Saka’s waist midway through the first half looked worse every time you saw it and when you then saw that it drew blood from Saka’s legs, I have no idea why VAR didn’t call the referee to the monitor. If they had have done I’m sure it would have been red and then you’re looking at a game in which we play against 10 men for 78+ minutes. It was at very least a nasty yellow and the fact that he then had hold of Gabriel’s shirt in that first half for a clear yellow again, yet wasn’t punished in the slightest, was baffling. He finally picked up a yellow in the second half and honestly, it felt like a bit of a joke that he remained on the pitch as long as he did.

So perhaps there was a bit of karma in our soft penalty decision, because before that Partey had shot over, Saka hit the side netting, the ‘keeper Travers had made three fine saves from Partey, Havertz and Trossard shots and I think there had been about four or five blocks as well. We were excellent at everything except putting the ball in the net at halftime. We’d had 16 attempts at goal, an xG of 1.97, five shots on target, SEVEN blocked shots and had completely shut out Bournemouth from doing anything offensively.

But this isn’t a poor Bournemouth side and they came out in the second half with a bit more purpose about them. And between the 46th and 70th minute when Trossard got his goal after a superb reverse-flick pass from the man-of-the-match Rice (more on him in a bit), it felt like a game in which any small slip up could be punished. Bournemouth certainly had more about them and in the second half had six attempts and a couple of shots on target. There was also the controversy of the Bournemouth goal they thought they scored. To be fair to the ref I think he blew up as the ball went in, but VAR ratified what was a clear push by Solanke on Raya. If Solanke isn’t looking only at the ‘keeper and pushing him to off balance him, maybe you have a case, but he was never showing any intention to win the ball and so for me it felt a fairly obvious one. Perhaps there is some argument about Saliba fouling a Bournemouth player in the box, but again it felt a bit week to me. If the ref gives the penalty then I don’t think we can complain, but we’ve heard about the higher threshold for VAR intervention and it feels similar to the Havertz penalty in the first half; the VAR will just ratify what the on field decision is.

That would have made for a nervy final 20 minutes plus injury time, but as it was the clean sheet was kept in tact and after that I felt we were in ‘seeing the game out’ mode. It was good actually because it gave a bit of an adrenaline shock back in to the team I felt and we gathered a little more composure to ensure the clean sheet. Which also confirmed David Raya’s golden gloves for this season. It’s an award that I couldn’t really give a monkey’s about but what it does show is how good we’ve been defensively by getting yet another clean sheet, so well done to our back line for once again being strong.

And it was a good job that the magnificent Declan Rice stepped up to add to the goal difference too, because we all knew that Wolves were going to bend over for Man City and gift them more goals and three points as well. Now that IS a team that is on the beach, although they also have a few injuries, but City’s win was as expected as you’re gonna get. But Rice was the deserved man of the match because of his fine assist for Trossard’s, as well as the excellent finish in to injury time to make the scoreline more reflective of the overall dominance we had in that match yesterday.

So it’s another win, it’s another game down, this team can only do what it can to keep up with City and hope for a miracle.

And we start all of this up again next weekend with an incredibly tough one: Manchester United away.

Catch you all tomorrow.