Mesut Ozil scored one and provided another as Arsenal returned to winning ways at the Emirates stadium on Monday with a 2-0 victory over Bournemouth to claim the Barcalys Premier League summit tentatively.
Gunners keeper Petr Cech was tested more than his opposite number Artur Boruc early on, as Bournemouth’s Harry Arter opened up the defence with some through balls to lone striker Joshua King, who was twice denied by Cech to keep the game goalless before Gabriel Paulista and Mesut Ozil sealed three points at the Emirates.
But as the game went on, even when the Cherries found some space in the final third, there was no way past the Czech goalkeeper, who kept out Matt Ritchie’s 30-yard drive and celebrated his 170th top-flight clean sheet to set a new Premier League record.
Following their Boxing Day defeat at Southampton, the pressure was on Arsenal to prove that the result was just an error rather than the onset of any deeper disorder. Only a win would do against a Bournemouth side that had found their top-flight feet in thrilling fashion, defeating champions Chelsea and then Manchester United in recent weeks during a four-match unbeaten run.
Arsenal boss Wenger chose to freshen up his side with four changes, the most notablewas Calum Chambers handed the role of shielding the back four in place of the rested Mathieu Flamini.
Elsewhere, Gabriel came in for Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs replaced Nacho Monreal and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started in place of Joel Campbell for just the second-ever competitive meeting between the two clubs.
Ozil was in sensational form throughout this encounter, claiming an assist for Gabriel’s first goal for the club before adding the second himself.
It was a complete performance from a player who is enjoying the season of his life, and it came when his side needed him most.
There was further reason for cheer too, as Petr Cech broke the Premier League clean-sheet record with the 170th of a glittering career in England. It capped off a fine evening’s work for the Gunners.
Arsenal made a sluggish start to the game, struggling to fashion any chances of note until Ozil’s pinpoint corner found Gabriel in the area and the Brazilian powered his header into the top corner.
Gabriel went close again when he hit the post, before Theo Walcott forced Artur Boruc into a good save before the interval.
Ozil then put the seal on a magnificent display in the 63rd minute when he played a one-two with Olivier Giroud before poking the ball beyond Boruc.
Walcott, Giroud and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all went close as the Gunners saw out the win to move to the summit of the Premier League on a night full of festive cheer in north London.