Rice stars as Arsenal win to maintain PL title bid


Declan Rice scored and assisted as Arsenal earned a 3-0 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday, heaping pressure on Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title.

The victory puts Arsenal four points clear of Manchester City, who play Wolves later on Saturday and have an additonal game in hand.

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Mikel Areta’s side were dominant for much of Saturday’s clash at Emirates Stadium. Arsenal opened the scoring with a Bukayo Saka penalty after Kai Havertz was judged to have been brought down by Bournemouth goalkeeper Mark Travers.

Arsenal added a second when Rice produced a superb flicked pass that set up Leandro Trossard who slotted home from just inside the box.

Bournemouth thought they had pulled a goal back shortly after through a strike from Antoine Semenyo but saw it disallowed for a foul on David Raya. Arsenal kicked on further though, with Rice netting their third in the final minutes.

Declan Rice played a pivotal role as Arsenal maintained their title challenge.

David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

With City playing later, Arsenal had the chance to crank up the pressure and they did so in relatively routine fashion even if it did take them a long time to get in front.

As expected, they dominated possession but 10th-placed Bournemouth frustrated the hosts with 10 players behind the ball for much of the opening half.

Trossard twice had shots blocked as Bournemouth threw players in front of the ball and captain Martin Odegaard was also denied early on in the Arsenal siege.

The inevitable nerves surfaced as a mistake by Gabriel let in Bournemouth danger man Dominic Solanke but William Saliba rescued his side with a last-ditch tackle.

Arsenal made the breakthrough just before half-time thanks to a rather fortuitous penalty.

Havertz was played in behind Bournemouth’s defence and the Germany international’s first touch took him past keeper Travers before he fell to the ground and referee David Coote pointed to the spot.

A lengthy VAR check followed and the decision was allowed to stand despite Havertz appearing to have dragged his foot to initiate contact with the leg of Travers when it would have been simpler for him to convert the chance.

Saka then calmly rolled the penalty into the net past a static Travers, his 16th league goal of the season met with relief around the stadium.

Bournemouth were more adventurous after the break, aided by Arsenal mistakes, and Solanke had a chance but his angled shot was easily saved by Raya.

Arsenal then doubled their lead with Rice setting up Trossard for a clinical finish.

There was still anxiety, though, and a crazy goalmouth scramble ended up with the ball in Arsenal’s net but Solanke was adjudged to have impeded Raya with minimal contact.

In the end, Arsenal won with a flourish and will now focus on beating Manchester United and Everton in their final two games and hope that City falter.

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.

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