AFC Bournemouth put in a spirited fight against Arsenal on Sunday but ultimately fell short, leaving North London with nothing, but with their heads held high after a 3-1 defeat.
Manager Eddie Howe was without midfield maestro Jack Wilshere for the trip to the Emirates Stadium, with the England international ineligible to play against his parent club. Despite his absence the Cherries exploited the Gunners on several occasions, with the result slightly flattering Arsene Wenger’s men.
Arsenal’s top scorer Alexis Sanchez broke the deadlock in the 12th minute, after Steve Cook’s misplaced back pass gave him a gaping goal to convert easily past deputy goalkeeper Adam Federici.
However, AFC Bournemouth were not prepared to hold back and levelled the scoring just 10 minutes later. Arsenal left back Nacho Monreal was adjudged to have brought down Callum Wilson in the box and he stepped up himself to score and send Petr Cech the wrong way.
And the Cherries, who appeared to be beaming in confidence after a hard fought 1-0 away victory at Stoke City the previous week were causing the home side plenty of problems.
Firstly, Adam Smith failed to hit the target from a free header after Nathan Ake had flicked the ball into his path and then Cech made a smart save to deny Brad Smith at his near post.
The Gunners, who came into the match knowing that only a win would be enough to keep their title aspirations alive, after Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool all won on Saturday, threatened late on in the first half with Sanchez seeing his thunderous effort on the stroke of halftime rattle Federici’s crossbar.
The second period was much the same as the first. Both sides admired for their attacking styles were both looking for the crucial second goal.
Theo Walcott, who has been in sinsilating form this term scored his 9th goal of the season converting a free header from Monreal’s cross past a helpless Federici.
However, the South Coast outfit had not given up their fight and have reason to feel hard done by after Referee Mike Jones waved away a well-reasoned shout for a second penalty.
Arsenal left back Monreal avoided the embarrassment of conceding a double penalty after Simon Francis struck the ball against his arm.
The Cherries continued to threaten and substitute Benik Afobe almost and should have scored against his former club, when his shot from close range was superbly parried away by Cech.
And as Howe’s side pushed for an equaliser, they were caught on a rapid counter attack, led by Sanchez, Ozil and Giroud.
The trio broke from inside their own half and substitute Giroud set up his Chilean team mate to round off the scoring in injury time with a tap in.
Bournemouth Manager Howe remained upbeat in his post match interview, seeing the positives after his side put in a gutsy performance at the Emirates.
He said: “To come here and create the number of chances we did is a really positive thing.
“We are a football team and high-pressing team. We tried to show that while trying to get a result. I thought the players did it superbly at times.”
AFC Bournemouth will face Liverpool next at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday.