Can Arsenal clinch the title? Discover how their last-minute win over Bournemouth restored their lead and added to their credentials as contenders.
|Arsenal players and members of staff mob Reis Nelson after the youngster fired the Gunners to three points against Bournemouth on Saturday. Arsenal won 3-2 having gone two down. (Photo credit: Sky Sports)|
The stage was set for all sorts of banter; fans of other football clubs were ready to pull up the picture of Arsenal’s elephant on the tree, and pundits that don’t believe in Arsenal’s title charge were getting ready to remind everyone of their predictions, then Reiss Nelson happened.
One of the many things that adds to the credentials of every title-winning team is luck.
Even though it's not fair to say that Arsenal's good performance is due to luck, they have to get used to it, from Jorginho's lucky goal against Aston Villa to the lone goal against Leicester and now the Nelson show.
The Gunners have now managed four straight wins since losing at home to Manchester City.
Can they start believing after winning their outstanding game against Everton and setting a five-point lead over the champions?
Bournemouth was the last team anyone expected to trouble the Gunners at the Emirates.
But from the blast of the kickoff whistle, the Cherries took the lead, and they made it two in extraordinary fashion not long after the restart in the second half.
Leandro Trossard limped off, and Emile Smith Rowe came on for him in the first half.
Takehiro Tomiyasu was hauled off at halftime, and Ben White came on for him.
But Arsenal still didn’t join the party until Thomas Partey bundled one home from close range after the hour mark.
Manchester City had beaten Newcastle in the lunchtime kickoff, and it was up to Arsenal to restore the five-point advantage.
Reis Nelson’s diagonal assist to Ben White levelled matters, with goal line technology coming in handy for the hosts.
At that stage, many Arsenal fans would take a point; controlling the game without finding the back of the net was set to be the subject of the post-match analysis, but again, real champions find ways to win when it matters, and boy, didn’t Arsenal do it?
Chris Kavanagh added six minutes of extra time, and it was clear that the Bournemouth players were messing around on purpose to waste time.
The ball rolled wide to the corner kick from an Alex Zinchenko effort, and it felt like all hope was lost, but the ref allowed one last corner kick, and it proved to do the magic.
Arsenal had four clear penalty shouts in the game; Arsenal fans were prepared to pin the result on the decision not to award any of the PKs, but the corner was headed out to the path of Nelson, who controlled, took it to his left, and then unleashed one to the far corner.
The Emirates roof was raised, bedlam took over, and the referee had to blow the final whistle.
It was the 20th win of the season for Mikel Arteta’s men, and it didn’t only restore their five-point lead but also gave some confidence ahead of the trip to Portugal in midweek for the Europa League date.