Bournemouth 1 Arsenal 2
Sunridge 94, Saka 5, Nketiah 26

Arsenal progressed to the FA Cup 5th round with a resounding 2-1 victory against Bournemouth at the Vitality stadium. Bukayo Saka opened the scoring after just five minutes, thumping in from Gabriel Martinelli’s assist. The Gunners were total control in a dominant first half, and when Eddie Nketiah netted his first FA Cup goal, it suggested that Mikel Arteta’s side would score a few more goals. Saka turned provider for Nketiah who had been recalled early from his Leeds United loan spell with worries surrounding a lack of first team action there. Mark Travers was certainly a busy keeper in the opening half. But the Cherries rallied late in the second half and substitute Sam Surridge slotted home when the Arsenal rearguard failed to deal with a cross. Earlier, Shkodran Mustafi had to be stretchered off after landing awkwardly on his ankle, but in truth, Arsenal had been in control for much of the match. They’ll face a trip to Fratton Park to face Portsmouth in the fifth round on the competition.

Arteta praised the efforts of his young side.

“In the first half I think we were really, really good. I think they executed everything that we planned in a really good way. They have courage to play, they have courage to make big decisions. They are important in this side. They are not the icing on the cake, no no, they are probably the core of that team at the moment and to play with that accountability and decision, I really like it,” he said.

All ten outfield players were involved in Arsenal’s second goal in a twenty two pass move, with Martinelli and Saka featuring again in what was a good left sided combination all match.

“If we can score in two passes, it’s better! We don’t need that many but obviously we need to move the ball and find the right spaces to attack and they’ve done it really well. I think the two goals were really nice.”

With Kieran Tierney out injured, Saka has been drafted in to emergency left back, but with the added advantage of his potency and pace when Arsenal attack. That is also to Arteta’s liking.

“It is the situation now because we don’t have any left backs at the moment. What I like is that he’s put his head down, it’s not his favourite position to play, but we try to adapt him with his qualities to play him as much as possible in the position that he likes. But then he is very willing to learn all the defensive principals that we are asking him to do and his attitude is really good.”

Mesut Ozil, Lucas Torreira and Alexandre Lacazette were unused substitutes on a night when we witnessed more of Arteta’s philosophy. He clearly wants players to defend from the front when possession is lost, and Saka, Nketiah and Martinelli showed that as well as the impressive Joe Willock who has emerged into a genuine first team starting contender and especially following this, the first Arteta away win since he took over last December.

The Gunners travel to Burnley in Sunday’s lunchtime Premier League kick off at Turf Moor ahead of the first winter break.