In what was another fascinating game of football on display Jan. 3 at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth will feel like they have thrown away three points after leading 3-0 on the 70-minute mark. The first 45 minutes were magnificent from the south-coast side, but the last 20 were simply calamitous. However, a point against Arsenal is not a bad result for Eddie Howe's team.
Eight years ago to the day, Howe was taking charge of his very first Bournemouth match, and the club were 91st out of 92 Football League clubs. Fast-forward to 2017, and the 39-year-old has marked the anniversary by guiding his team to a point against a hugely talented Arsenal team in the Premier League. There can be very few complaints, despite the team's letting the 3-0 lead slip. The first 45 minutes were also the best the team has played all season.
The lapse in concentration during the last 20 minutes will haunt the club during the coming days. The players became far too comfortable with such a large lead, and the inexperience in closing games in the Premier League showed. Bournemouth's defence leaks far too many goals as well.
3 (out of 10) -- Howe is usually very keen to employ his philosophy that attack is the best form of defence. However, to see him change that mid-game and substitute off his three most attack-minded players in Callum Wilson, Josh King and Ryan Fraser was most bizarre and, in hindsight, a very bad decision that cost his team the match.
Player ratings: (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Artur Boruc, 5 -- He conceded three goals yet again. His 72nd-minute save proved that his shot-stopping ability is never in doubt, but a yellow card for time wasting put a downer on his performance.
DF Simon Francis, 4 -- The Bournemouth captain is a liability and needs to be dropped. His straight red card and subsequent three-match ban could be a blessing in disguise. Francis admittedly made a couple decent interceptions and tackles, but he really lacks pace, and his positional awareness is poor.
DF Nathan Ake, 7 -- He has definitely made the centre-back position his own now, after being forced to sit out the start of the season due to Francis' involvement. His interplay around the edge of Arsenal's box in the 34th minute displayed his confidence going forward as well.
DF Steve Cook, 6 -- This was a decent game, but it could have been better. Cook was outmuscled by Olivier Giroud for the third goal, and some would argue he probably could have done better for Arsenal's first. His crucial 50th-minute challenge inside the Bournemouth box to stop a shot on goal was his highlight.
DF Charlie Daniels, 9 -- It's hard to knock Daniels in what was his best game this season. Often critical of his defensive vulnerability, but he was solid against Arsenal's forwards. His opening goal was also very impressive.
MF Ryan Fraser, 9 -- Improving with every game, Fraser is starting to prove himself as an upgrade on last season's Matt Ritchie. He ran rings around Hector Bellerin for most of the game and won the penalty. He also displayed brilliant strength for his and Bournemouth's third.
MF Dan Gosling, 7 -- This was another pleasing performance from the former Newcastle midfielder. His constant energy is infectious and seems to inspire the rest of his midfield comrades to work just as hard for the entire 90 minutes.
MF Harry Arter, 8 -- Arter is the talisman of this Bournemouth team. Watching Arter's persistent closing down makes even a spectator feel out of breath. He needs to contribute more in terms of attacking creativity, but there can be few complaints.
MF Josh King, 6 -- The Norway international was a threat with the ball at his feet, and he contributed to pinning Arsenal back so often, especially in the first half. In hindsight, Howe will probably wish he hadn't taken him off.
MF Junior Stanislas, 7 -- Stanislas had a solid game, and his diagonal pass for the assist on Daniels' opening goal couldn't have been any more pinpoint from 35 yards out. His free kick delivery was again a threat on every given opportunity.
FW Callum Wilson, 6 -- He worked the channels well and stretched the Arsenal back four when he could. He took his penalty well too but needs to start scoring more in open play, otherwise the permanent striker's spot could be Benik Afobe's for the long term.
MF Adam Smith, 6 -- Smith came on in the 68th minute for Fraser, and his last-ditch header in the 84th to deny Giroud of an easy tap-in was brilliant.
MF Andrew Surman, 4 -- He arrived in replacement for King when it was 3-0 in the 62nd minute. It wasn't completely his fault, but his more defensive outlook undoubtedly contributed to Bournemouth's collapse.
DF Brad Smith, N/R -- He came on in the 89th minute for Wilson.