Graham Pearcey

Graham Pearcey

Cherries 0 Arsenal 4

Date: 30 September 2023

The scale of defeat suffered at the Vitality Stadium this afternoon throws a huge doubt on Bournemouth’s survival chances this season.

The team lined up with no surprises, and a large part of the first 45 minutes was played in Arsenal’s half, which seemed encouraging. (I know this because I was, unusually, on a seat close to the East Stand’s corner with the North Stand, and I saw little of the ball in the first half apart from Arsenal’s two goals!)

Playing in Arsenal’s half shouldn’t, though, imply that Bournemouth had a lot of possession – let alone shots at goal. In fact I only recall one, which was Christie on the stroke of half time.

But by this time Arsenal were already 2-0 up. First a shot from Jesus hit the post but Saka was on hand to tap in from the rebound. The only good thing about that was that I have Saka in my fantasy football team! Then Aarons brought down an Arsenal player and a penalty was awarded. I expected more fantasy points as Saka usually takes penalties but, having held the ball for a moment, he handed it to another player. Relief on my part when I realised this ‘other player’ was Odegaard, who’s also in my fantasy team! His stuttering run-up confused Neto who couldn’t save it. Half time score: 0-2.

It was Christie’s turn to give away a penalty early in the second period, bringing down Odegaard. And this time a third penalty taker was chosen: Havertz! He too went for a stuttering run-up – and he too scored. 0-3. As the end of the game approached home fans began to leave – and when White scored (from an Odegaard assist) on ninety plus three minutes, many more fans started to walk out. I didn’t hear any boos at the final whistle, but that may be because those who would have booed had already left!

The jury’s still out as to whether Iraola needs more time to settle in, or we’ve been particularly unlucky with our fixture list, or are we genuinely not good enough? The news that Wolves, under Gary O’Neil, had today won 2-1 against Manchester City, leaves us wondering if we should have retained O’Neil for another season; surely we wouldn’t be winless after seven games if we had? To round off a rotten day for me there was no diversion on the M3 tonight – but there was a serious accident, blocking three out of four lanes and resulting in my total drive home exceeding three hours. Supporting AFC Bournemouth; why do I do it?

The team lined up as follows at the start of the game:

Aarons, Zabarnyi, Senesi, Kerkez;
Christie, Cook;
Tavernier, Philip, Kluivert;

By the end the line-up was:

Aarons, Zabarnyi, Senesi, Smith;
Rothwell, Cook;
Ouattara, Semenyo, Sinisterra;

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