Lagos, Jan. 14, 2018 (TNE) Arsenal’s miserable recent run continued as goals from Callum Wilson and Jordon Ibe saw Bournemouth come from behind to put a further dent in the Gunners’ pursuit of a top-four place.
Arsene Wenger’s men are now without a win in five games in all competitions, and five points adrift of fourth place in the Premier League, after Bournemouth extended their unbeaten run to four games to move further away from the bottom three.
Defender Hector Bellerin had given the visitors – playing without forward Alexis Sanchez – the lead when he latched on to a defence-splitting Alex Iwobi pass to squeeze the ball past Asmir Begovic.
But Wilson took advantage of Petr Cech’s indecision as he got to Ryan Fraser’s low cross before the Arsenal keeper and poked it past him.
The 25-year-old then turned provider, bringing down Lewis Cook’s cross for Ibe to rifle home.
Eddie Howe’s side savoured a first ever Premier League victory over Arsenal, at the seventh attempt, the victory moving them up to 13th place and four points away from danger.
But for Wenger, who was completing his three-game touchline ban for verbally abusing an official, it was further disappointment as speculation mounts that Sanchez’s departure is imminent.
A strong first-half Gunners performance, in which 20-year-old Ainsley Maitland-Niles rattled the crossbar, was undone in less than five calamitous second-half minutes.
An Alexis Sanchez header triggered Arsenal’s fight back in last season’s 3-3 draw at the Vitality Stadium, but without him this time around, they looked to a 26-year-old ‘veteran’ for inspiration.
Wenger named his youngest starting line-up in the Premier League since November 2012, and asked Jack Wilshere, one of his senior outfield players for the afternoon, to lead the fight at the club where he spent last season on loan.
For 45 minutes it looked like Wilshere would be the difference as he ran the midfield. In total he played more passes (74) and had more touches (98) than any other player on the pitch.
But for all his commanding presence, and the delicate probing of Iwobi on the right of midfield, it was in attack that Arsenal fell down, managing only three shots on target all game.
Alexandre Lacazette led the line, contributing to two good goal scoring opportunities when Maitland-Niles hit the bar and Begovic saved from Danny Welbeck, but the £46.5m striker did not manage a single shot himself.
Welbeck behind him could contribute only the effort that Begovic smothered.
Wenger, who is being linked with Bordeaux’s Brazilian forward Malcom, will know he must replace Sanchez this month once his departure is confirmed.