It was a disappointing night for AFC Bournemouth last night (27 January 2020), as they were knocked out of the fourth round of the FA Cup against a resurgent Arsenal.
Last night was the second time The Cherries have played The Gunners in the last month, having previously ground out a 1-1 draw on Boxing Day.
Bournemouth trailed Arsenal from early on, with goals from Saka and the upcoming young starlet Nketiah in the first half hour appearing to kill the game off at an early stage.
The Cherries looked like a team devoid of ideas in the first half, failing to impose themselves on the game or ask questions of Arsenal and giving their opponents acres of space to play in and this was what ultimately led to their early exit from the FA Cup.
The game was definitely a ‘game of two halves’ with many fans wondering what Manager Eddie Howe had said to the team at half time.
After the break, the midfield played with more urgency, the defence closed down Arsenal’s threat more assuredly and suddenly for Cherries fans, hope sprung where there seemed to be no hope. It left one wondering at the end what the result might have been had Bournemouth started the first half in the same way they’d begun the second half.
After piling on the pressure as the second half progressed, Bournemouth managed to give themselves a glimmer of hope, with a goal in the 94th minute from sub Sam Surridge, recently recalled from his loan spell at Swansea. Wilson and Gosling also came close. Young midfielder Lewis Cook missed a gilt edged chance in the final minute, but the clock ran down after nearly 10 minutes of stoppage time and it was The Gunners who ran out winners and now go on into the fifth round to face Bournemouth’s south coast rivals Portsmouth.
The game wasn’t without drama either, with Arsenal centre-back Shkodran Mustafi having a run-in with his own goalkeeper, and after a lengthy amount of stoppage time was stretchered off the pitch with a head injury.
The defeat hasn’t come at a good time for The Cherries as the team attempts to haul itself out of the Premier League relegation zone. Howe would have been hoping for a win to keep the teams confidence up after their recent 3-1 win against Brighton, but Howe will take some comfort from the teams spirited second half performance and will be hoping the same character will be evident in the next crucial 3 months.
Despite worries of relegation and concerns over Eddie Howe’s position at the club, fans appear to be remaining ever-positive on social media.
Arguably, this could also be seen as a good loss, as it now gives Bournemouth a chance to focus on Premier League survival and in particular their next vital Premier League game against fellow strugglers Aston Villa at Dean Court on Saturday.