Arsenal beat Bournemouth to keep pressure on Man City in Premier League title race

Gunners win 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium thanks to goals from Bukayo Saka, Leandro Trossard and Declan Rice

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Arsenal kept up the pressure on Manchester City in the Premier League title race after powering past Bournemouth 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

In an impressive performance from Mikel Arteta's table-toppers, Arsenal came out on top thanks to goals from Bukayo Saka, Leandro Trossard and Declan Rice that temporarily extended their lead at the top of the table to four points.

But second-placed City, who have a game in hand, reduced the deficit to a single point as they beat Wolves 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium later in the day.

A thoroughly deserved three points for the Gunners means double-hunting City, although still in the box seat, must continue to play catch-up at the top as Arsenal's goal difference is better than theirs by six.

“I think this year I can sense we’re embracing it,” said England midfielder Rice of the title pressure. “Man City are a machine, we can only focus on us. We’ve had an unbelievable 2024, the record is out of this world. Anything can happen in football.”

The only concern for Arsenal at the break against Bournemouth was that they might be made to pay for finding the back of the net only once as their opponents struggled to get out of their own half.

Cherries goalkeeper Mark Travers was kept busy saving efforts from the likes of Saka, Thomas Partey, William Saliba and Kai Havertz but after 15 attempts on goal, the score remained goalless.

But just before the half-time whistle, there was relief for the North London side when Havertz surged into the Bournemouth box past the despairing challenge by Travers and the German made sure his back leg touched the keeper before going down.

A VAR review confirmed the penalty, despite Bournemouth protests that Havertz has instigated the contact, and Saka confidently dispatched his 20th goal of the season across all competitions.

“I haven't seen the replay but I think he touches me,” insisted Havertz after the match. "I felt the contact and went down. For me it's a penalty. I said to the goalkeeper 'you touched me'.”

It looked like more of the same after the break with chances going begging for the home side. Saka should have made it two but his weak effort was easily saved and Havertz saw his strike well blocked by Travers.

And Arsenal were given a warning when 20-goal Cherries striker Dominic Solanke saw his shot from a narrow angle saved well by David Raya, while Justin Kluivert fired a cleanly hit strike wide of the target.

But the crucial second arrived 20 minutes from time when Trossard was able to slot home after excellent work from midfielder Declan Rice.

Bournemouth had the ball in the back of net four minutes later when Solanke was adjudged to have fouled David Raya in the build-up, before Ryan Christie hit the bar and the ball was turned in by Antoine Semenyo. There had been a slight nudge by Solanke on the Spanish keeper but contact was minimal.

Three minutes from time, defender Gabriel blasted home what would have been a stunning third only for Havertz to be caught offside in the build-up – much to the despair of Arsenal's Brazilian defender, who will never produce a sweeter finish.

The third did arrive deep into injury-time when Rice, slipped in by substitute Gabriel Jesus, fired home from a tight angle to secure the goal his magnificent performance deserved.

“I think you see it in the first half, it was domination,” said Rice. “We could have been up four or five. I knew there was an opportunity for me to score, assist and even for my goal there I sensed it. Goal, assist and three points, just what we needed.

“I do like assisting. It just feels great. It was a big result. They have been some form and are a top team and we knew today it was business and we had to handle it.

“You looked back at the Villa game the other week when we had a few in the first half. We could have done with the second half being less like a basketball match. It now leads into the game next week and we are ready for it.”

Arsenal's final matches see them take on Manchester United at Old Trafford and then Everton at home on the final day of the season. “We have two more games to play and we are going to give everything,” added Havertz. “We'll enjoy those games and see how it goes.”

Updated: May 04, 2024, 6:33 PM