Arsenal 3-2 Bournemouth: Player ratings as Reiss Nelson wins it in stoppage time

Reiss Nelson sealed a dramatic victory for Arsenal
Reiss Nelson sealed a dramatic victory for Arsenal / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Arsenal recovered from a two-goal deficit to defeat Bournemouth 3-2 on Saturday afternoon, as Reiss Nelson's 97th-minute winner restored the Gunners' five-point lead at the Premier League summit.

Bournemouth manager Gary O’Neil earnestly described the Emirates Stadium as "the toughest place to go" and “the biggest test you can face” before the match. Yet, his side made a mockery of that lofty billing within ten seconds of the opening whistle.

In a move that had the fluency of a pre-planned routine, Dominic Solanke rolled the kick-off back for Joe Rothwell to sweep wide. Dango Ouattara drove at Oleksandr Zinchenko and smuggled a low cross into the box. The delivery evaded Solanke but Arsenal's centre-back pairing of Gabriel and William Saliba was similarly befuddled, watching the ball trickle through for Philip Billing to tap in a breathless opener.

With the second-earliest lead in Premier League history to sit on, Bournemouth could retreat into a compact 5-4-1 and break from this huddled rearguard. From just 14% possession in the first half - 35 accurate passes - the Cherries spurned three breakaway opportunities as Arsenal tossed red shirts forward in search of an equaliser, playing with even greater urgency that had a whiff of desperation after Manchester City reduced their advantage to two points at the Premier League summit earlier in the day.

From Bournemouth's first corner of the match, Marcos Senesi peeled away from Thomas Partey's laid-back approach to man-marking, enjoying a free run onto Rothwell's corner which he nodded past a helpless Aaron Ramsdale.

Arsenal didn't have long to lament a second sloppy concession as Partey made up for his own error from a Gunners corner. Emile Smith Rowe nodded Neto's weak punch back into the six-yard box. While Ben White complained of a foul, Partey snuck in at the back post to volley in from close range.

Mikel Arteta turned to White at half-time to add a sixth body to Arsenal's attack that contained more subtlety and craft than Takehiro Tomiyasu. But the full-back brought a goal on top of his guile, firing Reiss Nelson's cross towards the net which Neto pawed away but not before it crossed the line.

On either side of a six-minute second-half burst, Arsenal had been thoroughly frustrated by Bournemouth's disciplined defensive resolve, reduced to speculative efforts from range that didn't trouble Neto. That is, until the ball fell onto Nelson's weaker foot.

As the clock ticked into the eighth minute of stoppage time, Arsenal's 17th corner of a gruelling contest dropped to Nelson on the edge of the box. Taking a touch to steady himself, the second-half substitute let rip, swinging his left boot through the ball as it flew into to the top corner, sending the Emirates into ecstasy and Arsenal back into the ascendency of this title race. For now at least.

Arsenal player ratings (4-3-3)

Fabio Vieira
Fabio Vieira made his second Premier League start of the season and his first at the Emirates / Julian Finney/GettyImages

GK: Aaron Ramsdale - 7/10 - The former Bournemouth man had the first touch of the game for any Arsenal player, picking the ball out of the net. Kept his current employers in the contest with a great smothering stop.

RB: Takehiro Tomiyasu - 3/10 - Hooked at half-time after a display devoid of the requisite delicate touches.

CB: William Saliba - 5/10 - Still mentally in the dressing room for the opening goal but swiftly recovered his composure to dominate a little too late.

CB: Gabriel - 6/10 - Either the Brazilian or Saliba mopped up the majority of Bournemouth's breakaways before they reached the box.

LB: Oleksandr Zinchenko - 5/10 - Arsenal had so much possession Zinchenko spent the vast majority of his time trying to pick a lock from central midfield.

CM: Martin Odegaard - 5/10 - Floating around desperate to find what little space existed between the visiting black shirts.

CM: Thomas Partey - 5/10 - Endured and enjoyed a mixed display where every glaring error was countered by a crucial contribution.

CM: Fabio Vieira - 3/10 - On his first Premier League start since September, Vieira flitted in and mainly out of the contest.

RW: Bukayo Saka - 6/10 - So often the first option as Arsenal built an attack but was invariably faced with a gaggle of defenders.

ST: Leandro Trossard - N/A - Forced off injured within a frantic opening quarter of the contest.

LW: Gabriel Martinelli - 4/10 - Shifted centrally following Trossard's premature departure, Martinelli got lost in the scrum of bodies.


Emile Smith Rowe (22' for Trossard) - 4/10 - Skirted around the fringes of proceedings as he still looks some way short of full fitness.

Ben White (46' for Tomiyasu) - 8/10 - Emphatically provided the impact Arteta was hoping for.

Reiss Nelson (69' for Smith Rowe) - 8/10 - Added the drive that Arsenal had been lacking.

Granti Xhaka (84' for Vieira) - N/A


Mikel Arteta - 5/10 - The law of probability suggests that at least one of Arsenal's long-range efforts would eventually pay off but Arteta can rely on this approach going forward.

Bournemouth player ratings (5-4-1)

GK: Neto - 4/10 - Not entirely convincing when competing for crosses.

RWB: Adam Smith - 6/10 - Scarcely ventured over the halfway line but was disciplined when camped in his own defensive third.

CB: Chris Mepham - 5/10 - Very fortunate to get away with letting a loose ball drop on his outstretched arm in Bournemouth's box.

CB: Jack Stephens - 7/10 - Tossed his considerable frame in front of the ball on countless occasions.

CB: Marco Senesi - 6/10 - Not exactly composed in possession but wasted little time clearing the danger when it emerged.

LWB: Jordan Zemura - 7/10 - Stuck to an exhausting task of shackling Saka as well as could be expected.

RM: Dango Ouattara - 6/10 - Brilliantly direct for the opening goal but should really have doubled Bournemouth's lead himself.

CM: Joe Rothwell - 4/10 - Sitting in front of his back five, Rothwell offered precious little in the way of resistance.

CM: Philip Billing - 8/10 - Took a literal interpretation of a box-to-box role, crucial for the visitors at both ends.

LM: Antoine Semenyo - 5/10 - Bournemouth favoured the opposite flank on their sporadic surges forward.

ST: Dominic Solanke - 5/10 - Failed to capitalise on the ample chances Bournemouth had on the break.


Jaidon Anthony (64' for Semenyo) - 5/10

Ryan Fredericks (64' for Zemura) - 5/10

Lewis Cook (71' for Rothwell) - N/A

Ryan Christie (82' for Ouattara) - N/A


Gary O'Neil - 6/10 - Cruelly denied what would have been a well-deserved point.

Player of the Match - Reiss Nelson (Arsenal)