Bournemouth - Arsene Wenger's miserable start to the new year took a turn for the
worse as his Arsenal side - missing wantaway forward Alexis Sanchez -
lost 2-1 at struggling Bournemouth in a game he admitted they "had to
Hector Bellerin put Arsenal ahead shortly after half-time
but Eddie Howe's side mounted an impressive comeback, scoring twice in
five minutes through Callum Wilson and Jordon Ibe.
Arsenal in sixth place, five points off the top four ahead of
Liverpool's clash with Manchester City later on Sunday, and without a
win in five games in all competitions while Bournemouth moved four
points clear of the bottom three.
And while Wenger wrestles with
problems on the field, the off-the-pitch saga involving Sanchez is
adding to his concerns, with the manager admitting that continuing
uncertainty surrounding the striker's future was the reason he was
"Half in half out, you never know this kind of situation
during the transfer period," he said after the match. "That is why I
decided to focus on the game."
Sanchez, who is in the final year
of his contract, has been a long-term target for Manchester City and was
expected to move to the Etihad Stadium in a 60 million transfer on the final day of the last transfer window
had Arsenal completed a deal for Monaco's Thomas Lemar.
City remained favourites to sign the Chile international this month until Manchester United expressed their interest last week.
Old Trafford club's willingness to meet Arsenal's 35 million valuation
of Sanchez, who can leave as a free agent at the end of the campaign,
together with the possibility of offering one-time Arsenal target
Henrikh Mkhitaryan as part of any deal, have increased the chance of the
forward joining Jose Mourinho's squad.
But while Wenger confirmed
he expected the situation to be resolved soon, he said he did not know
what the final outcome would be.
before the game if he expected Sanchez's future to be determined
imminently, he said: "Yes. Don't read too much in it because even I
don't know which way it will go."
Mesut Ozil was also missing for
the Gunners after being ruled out with a swollen knee but Jack Wilshere
started despite having limped out of the midweek League Cup draw at
Chelsea with an ankle injury.
Wilshere was anxious to make a good
impression on his return to the club where he spent last season on loan
while Arsenal were keen to register their first victory since the turn
of the year.
Arsenal came close after eight minutes as wing-back
Ainsley Maitland-Niles struck the bar with a curling shot. In the 35th
minute, Danny Welbeck's shot was saved by keeper Asmir Begovic but if
the Arsenal striker had gone to ground under the challenge of Simon
Francis, he may well have won a penalty.
There was a much clearer
claim for a spot-kick moments later in the Arsenal area when Alex Iwobi
handled Ibe's free-kick but referee Kevin Friend decided the contact was
Arsenal broke the deadlock seven minutes after the
restart. Iwobi slotted an excellent pass inside left-back Charlie
Daniels, allowing Bellerin to advance on Begovic before beating the
keeper with a powerful angled shot.
Bournemouth forced their way
back onto level terms with 20 minutes remaining after Ryan Fraser and
whipped a low cross towards the penalty spot where Wilson nipped in
ahead of keeper Petr Cech and turned the ball into an empty net with a
Four minutes later the home side went ahead as
Wilson collected Lewis Cook's floated pass deep in the Arsenal area
before laying off for Ibe to beat Cech with a low shot.