Sanchez dou­ble keeps Arsenal in ti­tle hunt

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Arsenal closed the gap on Premier League lead­ers Chelsea as Alexis Sanchez bragged a brace in a 3-1 win over Bournemouth yes­ter­day. Arsene Wenger’s side are within three points of top spot af­ter Chile for­ward Sanchez struck in each half at the Emi­rates Sta­dium to take his goal tally for the sea­son to 10. Sanchez gave Arsenal an early lead be­fore Cal­lum Wil­son equalised with a penalty be­fore the in­ter­val.

Theo Walcott headed Arsenal back in front just 24 hours af­ter the birth of his sec­ond child and Sanchez wrapped up the points.

Af­ter draw­ing three of their last four league games to fall six points be­hind Chelsea, this was a timely vic­tory for fourth-placed Arsenal, who are now un­beaten in their last 19 matches in all com­pe­ti­tions and firmly in the ti­tle race.

Even Wenger con­ceded Arsenal had lost their mo­men­tum of late and, in a bid to re­vi­talise his team, the boss made seven changes from the mid­week draw against Paris Saint-Ger­main.

France striker Olivier Giroud dropped to the bench and there was a re­call for right-back Mathieu De­buchy, who last played for Arsenal in Novem­ber 2015. On-loan Arsenal mid­fielder Jack Wil­shere was in­el­i­gi­ble to play for Bournemouth against his par­ent club, but his ab­sence didn’t stop the vis­i­tors stick­ing to man­ager Ed­die Howe’s phi­los­o­phy of play­ing out from the back.

It proved a fa­tal in­dul­gence in the 12th minute. Bournemouth goal­keeper Adam Fed­erici rolled the ball out to Steve Cook on the left and in­stead of knock­ing it long un­der pres­sure, the de­fender tried a back-pass that was in­ter­cepted by Sanchez, who glee­fully slot­ted into the empty net.

Wil­shere, watch­ing from the stands, buried his head in his coat as in­jured Arsenal team­mate Danny Wel­beck turned to in­dulge in some ban­ter with his friend.

DE­BAT­ABLE

Sanchez caused more chaos in the Bournemouth de­fence mo­ments later with a surg­ing run that ended with con­tact from Nathan Ake, but no foul was given by ref­eree Mike Jones as Arsenal ap­pealed for a penalty.

If that was frus­trat­ing for Arsenal, there was worse to come at the hands of Jones in the 23rd minute when he gave Bournemouth a de­bat­able penalty for Na­cho Mon­real’s col­li­sion with Wil­son, who picked him­self up to slot home his club’s first ever goal against the Gun­ners.

Just be­fore Bournemouth’s lev­eller, De­buchy’s re­turn had come to a pre­ma­ture end when he limped off with the lat­est in a long line of in­juries. His de­par­ture seemed to desta­bilise Arsenal’s back four and Bournemouth should have taken ad­van­tage when Ake headed a free­kick to­wards the un­marked Adam Smith, who could only di­rect his header well over.

Arsenal are usu­ally the ones be­witch­ing their op­po­nents with slick pass­ing, but they were get­ting a taste of their own medicine from Bournemouth as an­other flow­ing move gave Brad Smith space for a shot that Petr Cech saved at his near post. Sanchez tried to re­store or­der just be­fore half-time with a thun­der­ous shot that can­noned back off the cross­bar.

That warn­ing shot fore­shad­owed a more dy­namic pe­riod for Arsenal af­ter half-time and they re­gained the lead in the 53rd minute.

Me­sut Ozil’s cross was de­flected on by Ake to Mon­real, who scooped a cross back to­wards Walcott and the Arsenal winger nod­ded home from close-range be­fore mark­ing the birth of son Arlo with a ‘rock the baby’ cel­e­bra­tion.

Hav­ing been em­broiled in penalty con­tro­versy in the first half, Jones made an­other du­bi­ous call when he de­nied Bournemouth a spot-kick af­ter Mon­real blocked Si­mon Fran­cis’s pass with his arm. Bournemouth were fin­ish­ing strongly and it took a fine save from Cech to deny Benik Afobe, but Sanchez eased Arsenal’s nerves in the 90th minute when he tapped in from Giroud’s cross. — AFP

LON­DON: Arsenal’s Ger­man mid­fielder Me­sut Ozil (C) leaps for the ball dur­ing the English Premier League foot­ball match be­tween Arsenal and Bournemouth at the Emi­rates Sta­dium in Lon­don yes­ter­day.—AFP

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