3 talking points as Arsenal shine in Bournemouth victory

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Arsenal opened up the weekend with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Bournemouth, but Manchester City’s subsequent victory means their advantage at the top of the Premier League table is just a point.

Billed as potentially Arsenal’s trickiest game left on their schedule given the Cherries’ form in 2024, the Gunners quickly set about easing any tension inside the Emirates as they produced a stellar first-half display – albeit one without a ruthless edge in front of goal.

And despite a rather jittery start to the second half which brought about fears of an Aston Villa repeat, Arsenal’s triumph was never really in doubt. After Bukayo Saka opened the scoring from the spot, Leandro Trossard and Declan Rice added strikes after the restart to seal all three points.

The victory saw Arsenal extend their winning run to four games, but City still retain control of the title race.

Here are three talking points from Saturday’s win over Bournemouth.

1. Imperious Declan Rice

Declan Rice
Rice recorded a goal and assist against the Cherries / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

It looked as if Rice’s stellar debut season was petering out during Arsenal’s torrid eight days in April where the midfielder failed to assert himself amid the club’s Champions League exit to Bayern Munich.

The England international has played a LOT of football this term, and fatigue appeared to be creeping in.

However, Rice has found a second wind in the aftermath, with the midfielder starring in Arsenal’s recent four victories. His performance on Saturday was the best of the bunch as he played a key role in the hosts’ extending their advantage in the second half.

He was handed plenty of freedom to affect proceedings in advanced areas, with the contest manifesting Rice’s ceiling in an #8 role – just days after he revealed his preference to play deeper.

His flick to set up Leandro Trossard was subtly brilliant, while his goal at the death showed his supreme running power and ever-improving sense in and around the opposition’s box. It was a strike that capped off an all-encompassing display, and he was the Man of the Match in the eyes of many.

2. David Raya’s Golden Glove

David Raya
Raya kept his 15th clean sheet of the Premier League season / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

David Raya’s signing last summer doubtlessly raised many an eyebrow, as did the Spaniard’s rapid ascent to number-one status.

However, it’s fair to say that Mikel Arteta’s decision to essentially replace Aaron Ramsdale has been vindicated. On Saturday, Raya recorded his 15th Premier League clean sheet of the season which saw him secure the Golden Glove award. He’s the first Arsenal goalkeeper since Petr Cech in 2015/16 to claim the honour.

Raya has undoubtedly had an impressive season and has proven to be an upgrade on Ramsdale, but there’s certainly scope for the Spaniard to improve further. His shot-stopping figures have been poor this season – ranking 25th among Premier League goalkeepers in the post-shot expected goals minus goals allowed metric (essentially how many shots the goalkeeper’s expected to save).

Arteta’s imperious defensive structure means Raya has rarely been called upon, and the Spaniard has committed several high-profile errors which require ironing out. However, Arsenal’s number one has also shown remarkable resilience and an impressive ability to claim the high ball during year one.

There’s a foundation to build upon, that’s for sure.

3. Will the slip ever arrive?

Erling Haaland
Manchester City matched Arsenal’s win with a 5-1 victory over Wolves / James Baylis – AMA/GettyImages

Arsenal have had the advantage of playing before title rivals Manchester City during the run-in, and the Gunners have done an excellent job of maintaining the pressure on the champions.

Arteta’s men have lost just once in 2024, yet that slip-up at home to Aston Villa is set to prove critical in the title race. City haven’t lost in the Premier League since 6 December, and they’ve dropped just six points in 2024.

There’s little more Arsenal can do.

This City outfit, one going for an unprecedented fourth-straight league title, just doesn’t feel anything. They’ve been here before. Arsenal’s string of victories has merely inspired them instead of facilitating any inhibition. Their exit from the Champions League has boosted their title hopes greatly, and Arsenal may well be relying upon bitter rivals Tottenham to do them a favour in City’s penultimate game of the season.

Pep Guardiola’s Sky Blues are a relentless juggernaut that are coming into their own during crunch time again. They barely broke a sweat during their 5-1 beatdown of Wolves on Saturday evening.

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