New manager, new Arsenal? The sputtering Gunners came back to earn a 1-1 tie against lowly Bournemouth on Boxing Day in recently hired boss Mikel Arteta’s debut.
Elsewhere in the Premier League, Everton, the other English top-flight side with a fresh face on the sideline, beat Burnley in Carlo Ancelotti’s first match at the helm of the Goodison Park club. More on that below.
A badly needed result for Arsenal
The North London titan has fallen on tough times in recent seasons, failing to finish in the Prem’s top four during the final two years of longtime coach Arsene Wenger’s 22-season reign after an astounding 20 straight Champions League appearances.
Unai Emery, who became Wenger’s replacement in the summer of 2018 after the club passed on Arteta, lasted just 18 months at the Emirates Stadium before being shown the door last month after the Gunners’ worst run of form in 27 years.
Things didn’t get any better under interim manager Freddie Ljungberg, with just one win from his five games in the temporary role. But they did improve, however slightly, in Arteta’s heavily anticipated debut at Bournemouth.
It didn’t look like Arsenal would early on, with Dan Gosling’s goal 10 minutes before halftime putting the hosts ahead. As has been the case all season, the visitors paid the price for their inability to defend:
Fortunately for Arsenal, captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang — one of the Gunners’ few bright spots so far this season — cancelled the opener in the second half by finishing off a pretty play to prevent yet another defeat.
Aubameyang surged into the home team’s 18-yard box and dished to strike partner Alexandre Lacazette. Lacazette spun and found Mesut Ozil, who threaded a beautiful pass through a sea of legs to an unmarked Aubameyang, who finished inside Cherries keeper Aaron Ramsdale’s near post:
It was one of just two shots — out of 17 in all — that Arteta’s team put on target. But while both teams had chances to add a late winner, it turned out to be enough to earn the Gunners a share of the spoils, with a far stiffer test looming against London rival Chelsea this weekend.
A winning start for Carlo Ancelotti at Everton
Things went even better for Ancelotti, who was unceremoniously dumped by Napoli earlier this month after guiding the Italians into the knockout stage of the Champions League.
For most of the match, it looked as though the Toffees might also have to settle for a stalemate. Then English striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored with 10 minutes left in regular time to seal all three points:
It was nothing less than Everton deserved. Merseyside’s other club had fared well since Marcos Silva was canned following a 5-2 loss to blood rival Liverpool, beating Chelsea and securing draws against Manchester United and Arsenal under caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson.
On Thursday Everton looked the part again, not allowing Burnley one shot on target all afternoon while firing 21 on frame themselves. Every single outfield player managed a shot, the first time that’s happened in nearly three years, according to Sky Sports.
That has to be encouraging for Ancelotti, who will have less than 48 hours to prepare for Saturday’s trip to Newcastle.
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