Martin Odegaard fell to his knees, screaming towards the sky in delight. Gabriel Magalhaes ripped off his shirt, running in a direction he did not know. Thomas Partey slammed into his own team-mates like a dodgem. All over the Emirates, Arsenal players and supporters entered a state of delirium that can only be explained by those who felt it.
That is what football does to grown men. That is what title races do to grown men. Reducing them to hysterical rubbles, sending 60,000 supporters into a state of near-religious rapture and strengthening a dream that is growing more vivid and realistic by the day.
If Arsenal go on to win this Premier League title, there will be moments they look back upon as decisive. This was one of those moments. Perhaps this was the defining moment. A half-cleared cross to Reiss Nelson, a first touch to control the ball and a second to laser it, left-footed, through the Bournemouth bodies and into the top corner of the net.
There were nine seconds on the clock when Bournemouth scored the first goal here. There were 96 minutes and 57 seconds on the clock when Nelson scored the fifth and last of an incredible, logic-defying match.
This was a day for emotions, then, but let’s stay with the numbers for a moment. There were 89 minutes and 51 seconds remaining of this game when Philip Billing scored the opener, and there were 11 Bournemouth players in front of Arsenal’s faces from that moment onwards.
There were 654 completed passes from the home side, to Bournemouth’s 177. There were 30 Arsenal shots, too, of which nine were on target, and 17 corners. There were five goals, and at the end of it all there was somehow three extra points by Arsenal’s name on the league table.
Title races are never straightforward, and life at Arsenal is rarely straightforward either. But even by the usual standards of this league and this team, this was a truly ridiculous affair. An afternoon which cracked with frenzied energy and the sort of occasion that would test the mental resolve of any manager, player or supporter.
Bournemouth’s nine-second wonders not only played their part in the match. They defined it and shaped it in north London, scoring direct from a superb kick-off routing, then adding another through Marcos Sensei, and then clinging on until they were finally broken by the last kick of the match.
Thomas Partey and Ben White also scored for Arsenal but this was Nelson’s day. The forgotten academy graduate, creating one goal and scoring another from the bench. He may not be part of this club for much longer but, if they do lift the title in a few months, he will forever be part of their history.
Final word goes to the Premier League leaders
Jittery Chelsea hold on to earn Graham Potter relief and breathing space
The Apotterlypse averted. At last, for Chelsea’s embattled manager Graham Potter, a shaft of light in the gloom that ends a run of three straight defeats and might just save his managerial skin for now.
Read Sam Wallace’s report here
Problems for David Moyes and West Ham
More woe for Tottenham
Mikel Arteta reacts
Incredibly happy. It was just mad. The feelings of happiness and joy at a result we fully deserved to get, but it was in a very special way. It took until the last second to earn it.
I always had the feeling we could come back in the game, the belief was there, you could sense in the stadium. There’s nothing like sharing those great moments with your crowd.
Premier League results
Arsenal 3 Bournemouth 2
Aston Villa 1 Crystal Palace 0
Brighton 4 West Ham 0
Chelsea 1 Leeds 0
Man City 2 Newcastle 0
Wolves 1 Tottenham 0
Reiss Nelson reacts
It feels amazing. When the ball came out, my eyes just lit up and I’m so happy to come on and make the difference. It’s been a rough couple of months coming back from injury so when it went in, everyone went nuts for me.
It was sweet enough, I was delighted to see it go in and it was a great strike. Happy days for us.
Classy tribute by Thomas Partey
Ian Wright is a happy boy
FULL TIME: Arsenal 3-2 Bournemouth
It’s over at the end of an extraordinary game. Just in the nick of time Nelson completed the remarkable comeback from two goals down.
Is this their Sheffield Wednesday moment? Manchester United scored two in the last three minutes when down to Wednesday back in 1993 to grab a vital three points. There was still some way to go in the title race but there was something about that win that meant it was the match from which they truly believed they’d end their title drought. This could have the same galvanising effect on Arsenal. When you win titles you never have things all your own way, and this match could well be the moment that they truly start to believe the title is going back to Arsenal.
Arsenal 3-2 Bournemouth (Nelson)
WHAT. A. FINISH – WHAT. A. MATCH…Arsenal have done it!
Another corner for Arsenal – their millionth by my hugely inaccurate account (but you get my drift!), can they make this count – YES. THEY. CAN!!! Nelson with as sweet a shot as you can imagine (especially considering the circumstances) from the left side of the box following a corner. The noise is deafening – remarkable moment.
96 mins: Arsenal 2-2 Bournemouth
Brave block from Billing from an Odegaard shot – that sort of sums up the afternoon. Arsenal fended off by brave challenges from the visitors…a minute left…
95 mins: Arsenal 2-2 Bournemouth
Saka gets a cross that goes right across the face of goal and Jack Stephens gets a vital foot in. Bournemouth have defended their six-yard box so well and deserve a point. They’ve got vital blocks and interceptions in throughout the afternoon.
93 mins: Arsenal 2-2 Bournemouth
Arsenal keep on attacking – they’re after that one clear-cut chance that could dish up the winner.
91 mins: Arsenal 2-2 Bournemouth
White is released on the right but his cross is well defended – can Arsenal find a winner? There must be no more than four minutes or so left.
89 mins: Arsenal 2-2 Bournemouth
Odegaard to White, the cross deflected for yet another Arsenal corner (their 16th). But yet again they cannot create anything from it. There will be six minutes of added time for the hosts to score a much-needed/wanted winner.
GOAL AT WOLVES
And it’s the hosts who have broken the deadlock, Traore with the opener.
Wolves 1-0 Tottenham
86 mins: Arsenal 2-2 Bournemouth
It’s corner No 15 for the hosts – can they make this one count?
The answer is a big, fat ‘NO’. Saka sends it in, Solanke clears, but only to an Arsenal man. The ball ultimately ends at the feet of Odegaard, but his left-foot attempt is wide. A man of his quality should have at least hit the target there.
84 mins: Arsenal 2-2 Bournemouth
Change for Arsenal – Xhaka is thrown on by Arteta to try an orchestrate a winner. Vieira is the one to make way. Just before that Saka misses to the right having been played in by Martinelli.
78 mins: Arsenal 2-2 Bournemouth
Just over 10 minutes left and Bournemouth are hanging on. But Arsenal are looking for a winner and there are spaces at the back for the visitors to exploit. This match is far from over.
76 mins: Arsenal 2-2 Bournemouth
Hands up if you think this match is going to end 2-2? Those of you with your arms in the air are, I reckon, in the minority (not that I can see…)…
GOAL AT BRIGHTON!
Mitoma ends the match as a contest with Brighton’s third.
Brighton 3-0 West Ham
73 mins: Arsenal 2-2 Bournemouth
Bournemouth survive – just – as Saka attacks the box and his shot/cross hits Jack Stephens and it hits the post before the visitors clear their lines.
Arsenal 2-2 Bournemouth (White)
What a game at the Emirates – it’s now all square. It’s come via the sub – Nelson on for Smith Rowe (a sub on for a sub, I think Smith Rowe is injured) – who crosses, White is the first to react and his right-footed shot goes over the line for a vital equaliser.
Sam Dean at the Emirates
This is an extraordinary game of football. Arsenal have had so much of the ball (87 per cent of it in the first half) but they’ve been undone by a brilliant kick-off routine and a simple set piece.
62 mins: Arsenal 1-2 Bournemouth
Perhaps the biggest cheer of the afternoon is when Neto is shown a yellow card for time wasting.
At the other end Neto’s opposite number Ramsdale saves brilliantly with his feet from Solanke.
Arsenal 1-2 Bournemouth (Partey)
The hosts have halved the deficit and doubled the noise at the Emirates as, from a corner, Bournemouth fail to clear their lines. Smith Rowe puts the ball back into the danger area where Partey lashes home the ball at the back post.
Senesi shocks the hosts
59 mins: Arsenal 0-2 Bournemouth
The visitors have had just 15 per cent possession but, as if to give ‘stats are for prats’ types more ammo, who cares? The only stat that matters is the one that has relegation-threatened Bournemouth two up at the title challengers.
Arsenal 0-2 Bournemouth (Senesi)
It’s Bournemouth’s first corner of the match and Rothwell delivers a peach of a set-piece that Senesi heads in at the near post.
51 mins: Arsenal 0-1 Bournemouth
It’s Martinelli up against Zemura on the right, he cuts inside and goes for goal. It’s the wrong decision as Odegaard is free on the edge of the area and another half-chance goes.
GOAL AT BRIGHTON
It’s gone to the hosts at Veltman puts Brighton two goals to the good against West Ham.
Brighton 2-0 West Ham
50 mins: Arsenal 0-1 Bournemouth
Yet more of the same from Arsenal. They are probing away, trying their luck but are not creating too many clear-cut chances. This time an Odegaard shot from outside the box is well saved.
48 mins: Arsenal 0-1 Bournemouth
Early corner for the hosts – can they create something from this? The initial delivery is cleared by Solanke before Arsenal win another corner, their 11th. But this time Arsenal cannot threaten the Bournemouth goal as the ball rolls meekly into the arms of a grateful Neto.
47 mins: Arsenal 0-1 Bournemouth
The longer this half goes on the more desperate times may call for desperate measures – we’re not at that point just yet, but an early goal for the hosts will calm those Arsenal nerves.
45 mins: Arsenal 0-1 Bournemouth
They’re back under way at the Emirates – Ben White is on for Takehiro Tomiyasu.
Bournemouth have never kept a clean sheet against Arsenal – if they can manage it this 45 minutes then they will earn a shock three points.
Arsenal vs Bournemouth half-time stats
POSSESSION: Arsenal 87-13 Bournemouth
SHOTS: Arsenal 14-2 Bournemouth
SHOTS ON TARGET: Arsenal 3-2 Bournemouth
CORNER: Arsenal 9-0 Bournemouth
The half-time scores
Arsenal 0-1 Bournemouth
Aston Villa 1-0 Crystal Palace
Brighton 1-0 West Ham
Chelsea 0-0 Leeds
Wolves 0-0 Tottenham
HALF TIME: Arsenal 0-1 Bournemouth
The last chance of the half falls to Martinelli, whose shot hits the side netting. And that’s the end of an extraordinary for 45 minutes that saw the relegation-threatened visitors take the lead after just nine seconds – the second fastest goal in Premier League history. Arsenal have dominated possession (87 per cent) but credit where it is due, Bournemouth have done brilliantly with the 13 per cent they’ve had and are worth the shock half-time lead.
45 mins: Arsenal 0-1 Bournemouth
Arsenal have had 87 per cent possession but Bournemouth haven’t half used the 13 per cent they’ve enjoyed well.
44 mins: Arsenal 0-1 Bournemouth
Once again from nothing, Bournemouth had a half chance to add to their shock lead. Solanke is away but his cross doesn’t find its intended target.
41 mins: Arsenal 0-1 Bournemouth
Good work from Arsenal as Saka gets the ball to Smith-Rowe and Mepham gets in a great challenge. This is brilliant defending from the visitors who have been well worth their lead. Can they keep this up for the entire match though?
40 mins: Arsenal 0-1 Bournemouth
Corner for Arsenal can they create something from this? No, they cannot, as the ball comes to Saka and once again Zemura does well.
37 mins: Arsenal 0-1 Bournemouth
Bournemouth, as you would expect, are taking their time on set pieces. Neto is very fastidious over a goal kick and the Arsenal fans let him know what they think.
34 mins: Arsenal 0-1 Bournemouth
Saka looked dangerous for the hosts the first 10 minutes or so but since then Bournemouth have got to grips with the Arsenal danger man. Zemura has got tighter and things, for now, are looking good. Saka, however, is a player that will keep going and going.
GOAL AT VILLA PARK!
Aston Villa 1-0 Crystal Palace (Joachim Andersen OG)
It’s every defender’s nightmare, the ball whipped in low while you’re facing your own goal and forced to make an intervention. Ollie Watkins was lurking with intent and Andersen could only turn the ball into the back of his own net.
22 mins: Arsenal 0-1 Bournemouth
Early change for the hosts – Trossard is injured and has to come off. Smith-Rowe, no stranger to injuries himself, comes on. We’re about to learn a lot about Arsenal here. They are down, already have had to reshuffle their pack, and Bournemouth are looking dangerous on the break.
19 mins: Arsenal 0-1 Bournemouth
The danger at the Emirates is that while looking for the equaliser the hosts are caught out on the break. And that very nearly happens here as Bournmouth have a three vs one. Dango Ouattara is in on goal but Aaron Ramsdale rescues his side with a good save.
GOAL AT BRIGHTON!
Brighton 1-0 West Ham (Alexis Mac Allister)
The Argentine international has put the hosts up from the spot after Kaoru Mitoma was barges over by Bowen.
10 mins: Arsenal 0-1 Bournemouth
The hosts have responded well and Bournemouth are on the backfoot and defending deep, but, as Sam Dean says, they have a lead to defend. On Wednesday Everton frustrated Arteta’s side in what was a staring match until the hosts got the opening goal and it was no looking back from there. Arsenal, you suspect, will need to be similarly patient this afternoon.
Sam Dean at the Emirates
It’s an incredible goal from Bournemouth to start this game. Straight from kick-off. It must have been pre-planned. Arsenal have responded well immediately, having three shots on Neto’s goal already. This could be a long afternoon for the visitors but at least they have something to defend now
Zaha returns, Zaha scores! No, he doesn’t…
Aston Villa 0-0 Crystal Palace
The returning talisman has put Crystal Palace 1-0 up at Aston Villa. It was the visitors’ first attack of the game and saw Zaha round Martinez to slot home. BUT, wait…Var is rearing its head – tick, tock; tick, tock – and it’s disallowed. Zaha was offside, just, when Ezi played him in.
3 mins: Arsenal 0-1 Bournemouth
Arsenal were caught napping at the start but have since woken from their slumber. Odegaard tests Neto with a left-foot shot from the edge of the area that the Bournemouth keeper saves well.
Arsenal 0-1 Bournemouth (Billing)
What a start for the visitors!! Straight from the kick-off the south-coast club go down the right before the ball is crossed in and Billing slots home at the back post. That was – unofficially – scored after just nine seconds.
1 min: Arsenal 0-0 Bournemouth
They’re under way at the Emirates – can Arsenal restore their five-point advantage?
The two teams are out on the pitch at the Emirates
And they’re about to get under way.
Manchester City’s 2-0 win over Newcastle…
…means that Arsenal go into today’s match with a two-point lead at the top. For those whose mathematics isn’t great that means a win today would restore the five-point advantage they enjoyed this morning.
Here’s the match report from the Etihad Stadium.
READ: Manchester City and Phil Foden ruthlessly punish Newcastle’s missed chances
The big 1960s and 1970s rivalry is renewed today
Yep, Chelsea play host to Leeds in a match that is perceived – by some depending on their persuasion – to be clash between ‘flash cockney’ and ‘Yorkshire grit’.
Follow the action with my friend and yours, Rob Bagchi, from Stamford Bridge here.
The team news from the other 3 o’clocks
Wolverhampton: Jose Sa, Nelson Semedo, Dawson, Kilman, Jonny, Neves, Lemina, Sarabia, Matheus Luiz, Pedro Neto, Costa. Subs: Ait Nouri, Collins, Jimenez, Matheus Cunha, Gomes, Bentley, Joao Moutinho, Joao Gomes, Adama Traore.
Tottenham Hotspur: Forster, Romero, Lenglet, Davies, Porro, Skipp, Hojbjerg, Perisic, Kulusevski, Son, Kane. Subs: Sanchez, Richarlison, Emerson, Dier, Danjuma, Tanganga, Lucas Moura, Sarr, Austin.
Harry Kane, Oliver Skipp, Cristian Romero, Dejan Kulusevski and Clement Lenglet all start having not been in the XI that lost to Sheffield United in the FA Cup.
There are three changes to the Wolves XI that lost to Liverpool last week – Jonny, Pedro Neto and Diego Costa are the trio to come in.
Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Alex Moreno, McGinn, Kamara, Douglas Luiz, Ramsey, Buendia, Watkins. Subs: Traore, Chambers, Ashley Young, Duran, Olsen, Digne, Bailey, Sinisalo.
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Clyne, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell, Doucoure, Sambi Lokonga, Olise, Ayew, Eze, Zaha. Subs: Ward, Milivojevic, Mateta, McArthur, Hughes, Edouard, Richards, Ahamada, Whitworth.
Wilfried Zaha returns to the Palce team after four games out with a hamstring injury – all four of those matches saw Patrick Vieira’s side fail to win.
Brighton: Steele, Estupinan, Webster, Dunk, Lamptey, Gross, Caicedo, March, Mac Allister, Mitoma, Ferguson. Subs: Sanchez, Welbeck, Sarmiento, Enciso, Undav, Gilmour, van Hecke, Veltman, Buonanotte.
West Ham: Areola, Johnson, Aguerd, Ogbonna, Emerson Palmieri, Soucek, Rice, Lucas Paqueta, Bowen, Ings, Benrahma. Subs: Cresswell, Zouma, Scamacca, Fornals, Lanzini, Downes, Hegyi, Anang.
Jarrod Bowen and Danny Ings replace Pablo Fornals and Michail Antonio from the XI that lost to Manchester United in the FA Cup.
A full list of the 3 o’clock kick-offs
And, for once (it seems), there are a fair few of them.
Arsenal vs Bournemouth
Aston Villa vs Crystal Palace
Brighton vs West Ham
Chelsea vs Leeds
Wolves vs Tottenham
Here’s a great stat…
Here are those teams in old-fashioned black and white
ARSENAL XI TO FACE BOURNEMOUTH: Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Odegaard, Partey, Vieira; Saka, Trossard, Martinelli
Subs: Turner, Tierney, White, Smith Rowe, Kiwor, Holding, Jorginho, Nelson, Xhaka
As expected Thomas Partey returns to the starting XI for the first time in three weeks, having impressed as a half-time replacement against Everton on Wednesday. The midfielder replaces Jorginho, who had been suffering from illness during the 4-0 victory but is fit enough for the bench today. Eddie Nketiah won’t play any part in today’s match having picked up a knock in the 4-0 win.
BOURNEMOUTH XI TO FACE ARSENAL: Neto; Smith, Mepham, Stephens, Senesi, Zemura; Ouattara, Billing, Rothwell, Semenyo; Solanke
Subs: Travers, Randolph, Fredericks, Cook, Christie, Stacey, Moore, Anthony, Pollock
Gary O’Neil has made two changes to the side that lost 4-1 against Man City last time out – Jefferson Lerma and Hamed Traore drop out, with Joe Rothwell and Antoine Semenyo coming in.
Here be Bournemouth
Here’s the Arsenal XI
Time for Arsenal fans to be optimistic?
I am not sure if it’s just me and the Arsenal fans I hang out with but I do struggle to find an optimistic Gooooooner, one who when asked: ‘Are you going to win the title this year?’ struggles to respond: ‘Yes’.
Such is the strength in depth of Manchester City and trophy-winning know how of the club’s players and manager, that is perhaps understandable. But having weathered their early February storm – when they lost to Everton, drew to Brentford and then lost to their title rivals City – so impressively perhaps now is the time for Arsenal fans to really believe they can grab glory come May.
Since that run of one point in three – that prompted more than a few ‘that’s our title challenge over then’ comments – Mikel Arteta’s side have won three on the bounce, two away from home. And Wednesday’s 4-0 victory over Everton, when the side was far from it’s fluent best in a tense first half, illustrated that they are more than able to play their way into form when required.
Today’s match – at home to Bournemouth – offers Arsenal a great chance to extend their winning run. The south-coast side will go to the Emirates and be far from pushovers, but there’s a huge sense that if the hosts can keep a cleansheet then the three points will be theirs. Added to that is Gary O’Neil’s pledge that the visitors won’t go to north London looking to scrape a point, as many a relegation-threatened side might.
“It’s the toughest test you can face,” the Bournemouth manager said. “Their aggression and intensity make them a very good side and it’s no surprise they are where are they are. Mikel [Arteta] has done a very good job.
“But we go there not just to take part and will be set up in a way that gives us the best opportunity to take something.”
Another win for Arsenal today and perhaps – it now being the vital month of March – some optimism will start to enter the veins of their fans?
Stay here for all the action and team news from the Emirates and all the goal news from the 3 o’clock kick offs.