Alexis Sanchez shines as Arsenal keep pace with leaders
The Gunners overcome Bournemouth to open up a four point lead over Spurs as the top teams start to inch away from the pack
Arsenal 3 Bournemouth 1
Two goals from the outstanding Alexis Sanchez helped Arsenal get back to winning ways in the Premier League. The Chilean striker scored in each half as the Gunners secured their first league win of the month having drawn against Tottenham and Manchester United.
The three points keep Arsenal in fourth, within touching distance of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, all of whom won on Saturday.
And with Spurs suffering their first league defeat of the season, losing 2-1 to leaders Chelsea on Saturday, the Gunners have opened up a four-point gap between themselves and their north London neighbours in fifth.
The encouraging news for the fans is that Arsenal have weathered their traditionally poor November and between now and February they have only one match against a club currently in the top six.
Sanchez opened the scoring for Arsenal on 12 minutes when he made the most of Steve Cook's sloppy back pass to coolly fired the ball past Adam Federici in the Bournemouth goal. The visitors levelled, however, ten minutes later when Callum Wilson picked himself up after being fouled by Nacho Monreal and scored from the penalty pot.
Theo Walcott restored Arsenal's lead eight minutes into the second half, nodding home Monreal's cross, and Sanchez wrapped up the win on the stroke of full-time, a simple tap in after good work by Olivier Giroud down the right flank.
"We started to click again, even though it was in patches," said Walcott, who scored his sixth league goal of the season, 48 hours after becoming a father for the second time. "I'm probably the happiest person in the world," he exclaimed, when asked about the birth of his second child. "It's the perfect weekend."
It was a tougher workout than the scoreline suggested with the Gunners under the cosh for much of the first half with the two Smiths - Adam and Brad - guilty of failing to capitalise on good opportunities to extend the visitors lead.
"We became nervous when they equalised but we calmed down, focused and created many dangerous situations," reflected Arsene Wenger, whose side are now unbeaten in their last 19 matches. "Our players questioned themselves a little bit after a few draws but we have responded."
And the Arsenal boss had special words for Sanchez, who's now scored eight goals in 13 league appearances this season. "Even when he looks dead he's still alive and finds always the resources to do something special when you win the ball back," said Wenger. "He has that conditioning that when the ball comes to him again he finds always that extra gear to be dangerous.