Arsenal stroll into the FA Cup fifth round with a comfortable 2-1 win over Bournemouth
The first half was as dominant a display we have seen from Arsenal in quite some time. Yes, Bournemouth was lacklustre but that had a lot to do with Arsenal making the Cherries look poor.
Arsenal was on the attack from word go and within the first few minutes went one up through a thunderous effort from young Bukayo Saka.
The goal was a combination of three young Gunners. Joe Willock carried the ball to the edge of the area before laying off to Gabriel Martinelli who slipped the ball to Saka who smashed it into the net from a tight angle.
The Gunners continued to dominate and it was always going to be a matter of time before a second goal came. It duly did on the 25th minute from yet another youngster, this time Eddie Nketiah following a pass from Willock.
Nicolas Pepe had a chance a few minutes later but unfortunately hit it wide. Bournemouth was fortunate to be just 2-0 down at this point.
Eddie’s Howe men never really had a look in until the last 5-10 minutes and even then it was all a little half-hearted, much to the annoyance of the home fans.
Bournemouth did come out with more purpose in the second half and a pattern did start to develop with Arsenal sitting back comfortably and breaking at will.
Shkodran Mustafi came off around the 60th minute with an injury and Bournemouth did step up the pressure, as I said a pattern had developed.
Arsenal still looked dangerous on the break and Pepe was a little bit unlucky with a bobbling ball on one such breakaway.
Dani Ceballos replaced Pepe just before the 70th minute which was more about preserving him as opposed to anything to do with his performance.
Bournemouth found a consolation goal in injury time through some sloppy defending from Arsenal. The scoreline was not a fair reflection of the game as a whole and does not really detract from the overall performance.
Truth be told this was a very comfortable win for Arsenal, a thoroughly deserved win and an overall good performance from the team.
The lads pressed high from the kick-off and their transition play was some of the best I have seen from them in a long time.
The crowd was quietened down almost immediately and for large parts of the game, you could have been forgiven for thinking this was a home game for Arsenal.
This Arsenal team is unrecognisable from the team we saw at the back end of the Unai Emery reign. There is an enjoyment to the Arsenal play and confidence levels are a lot higher as a result.
This was not necessarily a performance that one should get carried away with but the progress continues under Arteta, it was a very professional display, especially from the youngsters.
It does appear the dark days are behind us and while there is still a long way to go, it is a pleasure these days to watch the lads in action and that feeling of impending doom that was once there is starting to recede and fast.
An away game awaits at Portsmouth in the next round.