LONDON (AFP) – Mesut Ozil made the most of being handed a rare start by Arsenal boss Unai Emery as the German masterminded a 5-1 victory over Bournemouth early yesterday to keep the Gunners in pole position for a top-four finish in the Premier League.
Ozil opened the scoring after just four minutes before turning provider for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to double Arsenal’s lead.
Lys Mousset briefly gave Bournemouth hope before half-time, but Ozil and Mkhitaryan combined once more to tee up Laurent Koscielny to make it 3-1 before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette rounded off an eighth straight Premier League win at the Emirates for Emery’s men.
The Spanish coach has been reluctant to use Arsenal’s highest earner in his debut season in charge as Ozil was making just his second league start of the year.
However, the former Real Madrid midfielder showed why Arsenal handed him a contract worth a reported GBP350,000 a week in January last year by rolling back the years as the link-up between him and Mkhitaryan questioned why they had not started together in the Premier League since last November. Emery now has a welcome selection headache for the tomorrow’s crucial north London derby away to Tottenham on whether to stick with Ozil and Mkhitaryan, while Aubameyang and Lacazette are also in top form and vying for a place up front.
Arsenal were helped along the way by some feeble Bournemouth defending as the Cherries succumbed to a 10 consecutive away defeat.
Artur Boruc should have got a stronger hand to Ozil’s shot that bounced over the Polish goalkeeper to give the hosts a perfect start.
At the other end, Arsenal’s own defensive deficiencies were also on show at times as only a fine save from Bernd Leno denied Ryan Fraser an equaliser before Dan Gosling’s follow-up effort was bravely blocked by Matteo Guendouzi.
Bournemouth caused their own problems again in the build-up to Arsenal’s second as Adam Smith gifted possession to Mkhitaryan, but it was still brilliantly pounced upon as the Armenian exchanged passes with Ozil before slotting into an empty net.