Arsenal produced an incredible comeback to seal a 3-3 draw at Bournemouth on Tuesday that could keep their Premier League title hopes alive.
First-half goals from Charlie Daniels and Callum Wilson and a further strike from Ryan Fraser gave Eddie Howe’s men a 3-0 lead that looked set to give the home side a first competitive win over the Gunners.
However, three goals in the final 20 minutes from Alexis Sanchez, Lucas Perez and Olivier Giroud – the latter netting in the second minute of stoppage time – saw Arsene Wenger’s side snatch a point to end a run of back-to-back away league defeats.
Arsenal produced a dismal display for the first hour against a spirited Bournemouth, who took the lead through Daniels’ composed finish as Arsenal loanee Jack Wilshere watched on from the stands.
Wilson – whose penalty in the reverse fixture at the Emirates Stadium was Bournemouth’s first competitive goal against Arsenal – doubled the advantage from the spot before half-time and Fraser made it 3-0 prior to the hour mark.
Arsenal, who were without the ill Mesut Ozil, gave themselves hope through Sanchez and Lucas before Giroud headed home in injury time after Bournemouth had seen Simon Francis sent off.
The draw moves Arsenal to within eight points of leaders Chelsea, but they will drop out of the top four if rivals Tottenham beat Antonio Conte’s side on Wednesday.
The leaders themselves could move 11 points clear of the Gunners with a win over Spurs – a gap that would leave even the most optimistic of Arsenal fans fearing a 13th season without a title win.
Petr Cech was the busiest man in a positive opening spell from Bournemouth, with the Gunners goalkeeper saving a speculative effort from Junior Stanislas before just making enough contact on a throughball to deny Wilson a run at goal or a penalty shout.
But there was nothing Cech could do to stop the home side taking the lead after 16 minutes. Stanislas fired a long pass to Daniels on the left flank and the full-back skipped inside a challenge from the sleeping Hector Bellerin before side-footing home at the near post.
It got worse for Arsenal four minutes later, as Granit Xhaka shoved Fraser to ground inside the area on a Bournemouth break, allowing Wilson to sweep the ball down the middle and into the net from the penalty spot.
Aaron Ramsey, starting in the number 10 role in place of Ozil, flashed a shot wide on the turn, but Arsenal struggled to cause any undue problems for Artur Boruc and the Bournemouth defence.
Indeed, it almost got worse for the Gunners before the break, with Stanislas bending a shot inches wide of Cech’s left-hand post from 20 yards in stoppage time at the end of the half.
Arsenal turned up the pressure early in the second half, but they thought they were 3-0 down after 55 minutes, only for referee Michael Oliver to award a handball in their favour after Wilson diverted Harry Arter’s shot into the net with his arm.
But Bournemouth only needed another two minutes to send the Vitality Stadium into dreamland. Fraser chased down a long ball with Bellerin before nudging the defender to the ground, striding into the area from the left and slotting low past Cech and into the bottom corner.
However, things soon unravelled for the home side. Sanchez dived to nod Giroud’s header across goal into the net and give the Gunners a glimmer of a comeback with 20 minutes to play, while Lucas volleyed in expertly from a tight angle five minutes later to leave home fans fearing the worst.
Bournemouth lost Francis to a straight red card in the closing stages for a lunge on Ramsey and Arsenal made their superior numbers count, with Giround glancing Xhaka’s cross from the right into the bottom corner to salvage a draw.