ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
LONDON • Arsenal closed the gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea as Alexis Sanchez bagged a brace in a 3-1 win over Bournemouth yesterday.
Arsene Wenger's side are within three points of top spot after Chile forward Sanchez struck in each half at the Emirates Stadium to take his league tally for the season to eight.
Sanchez gave Arsenal an early lead before Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson equalised with a penalty before the interval.
Theo Walcott headed Arsenal back in front just 24 hours after the birth of his second child, and rocked an imaginary cradle to celebrate his strike. Sanchez wrapped up the points with his second goal of the afternoon.
After drawing three of their last four league games to fall six points behind Chelsea, this was a timely victory for fourth-placed Arsenal, who are now unbeaten in their last 19 matches in all competitions and firmly in the title race.
Arsenal have felt the ghosts of Novembers past but this was a win to restore a measure of stability.
It was not a vintage performance and there was a period in the first half, after Bournemouth had equalised through Wilson's hotly contested penalty, when the visitors appeared to be the likelier scorers of the next goal.
But Arsenal survived the wobble and, inspired by Sanchez, they emerged as the deserving victors and, in the process, provided their response to the wins of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City on Saturday.
Walcott was withdrawn towards the end and he sat on the bench with a heavy strapping on his lower leg but the aches and pains felt more bearable for him and Arsenal.
They had entered the game on the back of three rather underwhelming draws on the spin in all competitions and with Wenger demanding that they recover their fluency. The manager was a happier man here.
Bournemouth showed flashes of spirit and they shouted for a second penalty in the 72nd minute, when Simon Francis' attempted through-ball in the area hit Nacho Monreal's hand.
The visitors finished strongly and it took a fine save from Petr Cech to deny Benik Afobe, but Sanchez eased Arsenal's nerves in the 90th minute when he tapped in from Olivier Giroud's cutback.
Arsenal breathed a sigh of relief and their unbeaten run goes on; they have not lost since the opening weekend of the season to Liverpool.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE