Arsenal progressed into the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 2-1 win over a struggling AFC Bournemouth with goals from Bukayo Saka and Edward Nketiah. The Gunners fielded a comparatively younger side against a side that has been stuck in relegation but the result was a resounding one at the Vitality Stadium on Monday.
Arsenal took an early two-goal lead and outplayed Bournemouth for the entirety of the match. The home team fired a consolation goal four minutes into stoppage time with Sam Sturridge netting a much-needed strike but the game was beyond conclusion by the time the final whistle blew.
Fifth minute into the match, Gabriel Martinelli provided a wonderful assist allowing Saka to score an early goal, which he swiftly fired into the top corner – 22 consecutive passes built up to that first goal including 10 outfield players. Not too long after, Arsenal doubled their lead with Saka playing a role again – setting up Nketiah for an equally good finish.
“Mikel is trying to bring back the philosophy of the Arsenal way. We did that well in the first half, not so much in the second half,” Saka said.
Arsenal suffered a blow when Shkodran Mustafi collided with Bournemouth’s Dominic Solanke and was stretchered off the field. With Gunners keeper Emiliano Martinez charging in, Mustafi injured his ankle and was replaced by Rob Holding.
“I’m very pleased. I knew it was going to be a tough game and we played a really young squad,” said Arteta. “I wanted to see the reaction and I was very pleased because I saw a lot of things I really liked.
“In the first half we were really, really good. They executed everything we planned in a really good way and showed he courage to make big decisions. We played with that accountability, making decisions and I really liked it. They were terrific with their work-rate, showed courage to make those big decisions and not to play safe.”