What Odegaard after Kai Havertz's Arsenal penalty as Arteta's Raya decision proved right


Arsenal answer Arteta's call

Before this game, Mikel Arteta was asked what the biggest challenge he thinks facing this side is. "Playing better every day," he responded. "Suffocating the opponent more. Create more chances. Conceding zero chances and playing further from our goal."

He may not have exactly achieved the lofty aim of conceding zero chances - Dominic Solanke and Phillip Billing both had the gall to get in behind in the first half only for William Saliba and Gabriel to thwart them respectively, while David Raya was forced into a good save late on. When it comes to suffocating the opponent more though he will certainly be delighted with what he saw.

As was expected from an Andoni Iraola side, Bournemouth did not come into this game passively. Instead they came out swinging, trying desperately to win the ball high off their opponents. Arsenal were happy to let them do so, ducking and weaving away from each attempted punch with lengthy spells of possession in their own defensive third, waiting for their moment to land the killer blow.

This patient approach paid off for their first goal as Eddie Nketiah's quick turn away from Marco Senesi opened up the Cherries backline. The ball was eventually worked wide to Martin Odegaard whose deep cross into the box found Gabriel Jesus, and while there was an element of fortune about the way the ball fell for Bukayo Saka to nod home, it was no more than Arsenal deserved.

This is exactly the way Arteta wants to see his side play and unsurprisingly he was keen to express his satisfaction after the game. "They don’t give you any time, it’s a small pitch and it’s difficult to get out of that," he said. "We read the game very well and earned the right to win it."

These tactics worked again in the earning of both the first and second penalties that put Arsenal out of sight at the Vitality. Arteta may not be fully satisfied with what he's seen from his side so far this campaign, but Saturday's trip to the south coast, is surely as close as he's come to finding what his early season experimentation has been looking for.

READ MORE: Arsenal player ratings vs Bournemouth as Odegaard and Rice star while Havertz gets first goal

READ MORE: Every word Mikel Arteta said on Kai Havertz penalty, Saka and Jesus injuries and City loss

Why Arsenal signed David Raya

Key to this superb passing display was David Raya. The Spaniard did not have the kind of game that will earn him a segment on Match of the Day. He made one decent low save in the first half, and was largely understated with his play from the back. This though is exactly what Arteta would have been looking for.

In light of a far from perfect display in last weekend's North London Derby and an impressive outing for Aaron Ramsdale against Brentford in the Carabao Cup, many had begun to question how much of an upgrade Raya really was on his teammate. It's certainly easier to point to the superb low save Ramsdale made to keep out Yoane Wissa and argue that he is the superior stopper. Arteta though is after so much more from the position - particularly in a game like this.

Jurgen Klopp has described Raya as a goalkeeper who could easily wear number 10 on his back. While that's probably hyperbolic, one thing that Raya does share with the greatest number 10s in the game is the miraculous ability to always have time on the ball. This is no coincidence. The Spaniard is constantly adjusting his angles to give himself the extra yard. Yes, his passing is sublime, as one low line-breaking pass to Oleksandr Zinchenko in the first five minutes exhibited - but part of the reason for this is the amount of time he has to pick his spot.

Like the greatest quarter backs in American football, Raya allows himself the extra couple of yards to assess the options a play the best ball available. Contrast that to the number of times you've seen Ramsdale rushing a clearance, and the reason why Arteta was so keen to bring the Spaniard in becomes clear.

Make no mistake, Ramsdale is an exceptional goalkeeper. Watching him sit among the substitutes for long periods of this season will be painful for Arsenal fans, particularly because of the character he is and what he's done for the club. But games like this utterly dominant victory over Bournemouth show in crystal clarity why Arteta felt he could do just that bit better.

Havertz's big day

What is it about the away end at the Vitality Stadium that seems to bring out the best from the Arsenal fans. Last season it was the birthplace of the William Saliba chant that soundtracked the halcyon days of their unexpected title push. This time around a whole new chant was born that could be just as popular.

It's been a tough start for Kai Havertz at Arsenal. Arriving with a £65million price tag on his head has bought expectations that have seemed to visibly weigh him down at times. As the Gunners fans began to turn on him slightly in the 2-2 draw with Fulham the cannon on his chest seemed to be weighing heavy.

However, as he heard the loudest roar of the day greet Bukayo Saka's decision to pass over penalty taking responsibilities for the second spot kick of the day, he suddenly looked to grow even beyond his 6'4" stature. As he stepped up every person in the ground of an Arsenal persuasion was undoubtedly thinking the same thing - "please don't miss". The will for Havertz to succeed is emblematic of the positivity that exists around the club right now. Had the German made such a slow start to life in north London during Unai Emery's era, then it's hard to imagine similar scenes occurring. As he tucked the ball away though and was shoved almost sheepishly over to the Gunners supporters by Martin Odegaard to soak up the love that clearly exists for him despite what social media switchboards will have you believe, you would have to have been colder than the Norwegian's home country not to let a smile creep across your face.

"I’m really happy for the win, but I’m even happier to be part of a team that shows the human qualities that they did today," Arteta said of the heartwarming moment. "Without me telling them nothing, to show that empathy to a player that has some question marks to resolve externally, they warmed me even more today. They’ve done it in a really natural way. I’m delighted they made that decision. And so thankful as well to our supporters for the way they sung his name and made him feel today. If there’s a player who deserves that it’s Kai Havertz so so happy for him."

Arteta went on to predict big things for the impact this goal could have on Havertz's Arsenal career. "Probably it will change everything," the Spaniard said. "If he had any question marks about how we feel about him, about what he does, I think they are out."

That may be a touch simplistic in its assessment of the situation, but after netting his first competitive Gunners goal, Havertz appeared to be running as if the weight of the expectations on him had finally been lifted. The German will need to sustain this over a period of time to fully win over the supporters who still doubt him, but if the chants that rung out well beyond full time at the Vitality Stadium are anything to go by, Gooners are more than open to being convinced.

Too early for title talk

What amplified the positivity down on the south coast for Arsenal were the results across the rest of the Premier League's 3pm kick offs. Manchester United's defeat would have been amusing, but Manchester City's was amazing.

Few had expected Pep Guardiola's side to slip up on a trip to Molineux where they were undoubted favourites. As Wolves took the lead without even so much as a shot on target, you got the feeling this could be their day. City went on to equalise, but Hwang-Hee Chan's goal just after the hour mark secured a goal that reminded us all that titles are never won in September.

Many have spoken of an inevitability to the way City have started this season, but if Arsenal beat them next Sunday, it will be the Gunners who head into the international break at the summer league's summit. "This is going to happen," Arteta said of the unexpected results. "No one is going to win every single game in this league playing the way we have to every three days. We have to be consistent in what we do, play and try to do the right thing to win the game. Some days it is not going to be possible and it is the seventh game of the season. It's still a long marathon."

Many declared the title race officially over after the disappointing North London Derby result. Such is the regularity of G-force sways of momentum though, it was only going to be a matter of time before such thoughts looked daft. External noise will continue, but Arsenal will be well aware that all they can do is keep themselves in the hunt until May. That, after all, is when titles are actually won.

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