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Arsenal's Welbeck provides reason for cautious optimism

PARTY TIME: Danny Welbeck (left) celebrates with team mates
Photo credit: Sylvester George

SATURDAY'S EASY win was exactly what the doctor ordered for Arsene Wenger and his charges. Following their troubled start to the season and their shambolic transfer deadline day, Arsenal swept aside a disappointing Bournemouth with football that at times sparkled.

A smart double from Danny Welbeck and a superb finish from Alexandre Lacazette saw Arsenal make good on the notion that the Cherries were the right team to face following the international break and their Anfield mauling.

It no doubt helped that Bournemouth were out of sorts, as did the restoration of Hector Bellerin to right wingback, with Sead Kolasinac taking his place on the left. Wenger’s bizarre defensive experiments over August seemed a distant memory, although he did persist with three in central defence.

Nerves around the Emirates were not eased when it emerged that Alexis Sanchez would start on the bench, but any consternation dissipated as early as the sixth minute when Welbeck headed the opener.

Aaron Ramsey and Kolasinac combined on the left, with the Bosnian collecting Ramsey’s pass and driving forward to deliver a ball for the onrushing Welbeck. It was slightly behind the England forward but he managed to lean back and steer the ball beyond Asmir Begovic. Welbeck had his first of the day and Arsenal had their ideal start.

The Gunners circulated the ball with confidence and precision as Bournemouth seemed all too happy to let them have the ball in the first half. Mesut Ozil glided between the lines in that effortless manner that characterises his best afternoons. He tested Begovic’s reflexes with a curling free-kick and later delivered the sweeping pass that led to Lacazette claiming Arsenal’s second.

A meek intervention from Nathan Ake enabled Lacazette to play a one-two with Welbeck before driving a confident shot beyond Begovic in the 27th minute.

The Frenchman was alert and industrious throughout, continuously menacing Ake and Tyrone Mings, who was hooked at the interval for the returning Simon Francis. Lacazette’s unerring finish made the decision to bench him at Anfield a fortnight ago look baffling.

On 50 minutes the forward played his part in Arsenal's third by tracking back to pickpocket Dan Gosling. The ball broke to Ramsey, who carried it forward and found Welbeck. His finishing is not always clinical but he made no mistake with his angled drive.

The hard-working Welbeck and Lacazette were later replaced by Sanchez and Olivier Giroud, who would go on to pose Bournemouth’s backline a series of problems. Sanchez attracted a few jeers as he entered the field but his contribution will be essential if Arsenal are to build on this morale-boosting victory.

Eddie Howe’s side made a better fist of it in the second half, with Jermain Defoe hitting the post moments before Arsenal’s third, but they seldom troubled Petr Cech. The promise of 2-1 quickly and painfully became 3-0 and it is now four defeats in four Premier League games for Bournemouth, who need a swift turnaround of their own.

Arsenal will face a sterner test at Stamford Bridge next weekend, following Cologne’s Thursday night visit in the Europa League, but this outing might have been more testing than it ultimately proved to be.

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