Arsenal's young stars will come again if they don't win the Premier League this season - but they had a helping hand from VAR in 3-0 win over Bournemouth, writes IAN LADYMAN

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Ten minutes after the final whistle and once his TV duties had been done, Arsenal’s Declan Rice finally left the field with a smile, a wink and a thumbs up to the supporters gathered by the players’ tunnel. If that gave the impression this had been a straight-forward afternoon, then that would be quite wrong.

Arsenal deserved their victory. They enjoyed the possession and the territory and they created the chances. During an opening 25 minutes during which they pummelled Bournemouth, Mikel Arteta’s team created nine good opportunities.

But Premier League titles have to be hard won and in the end Arsenal needed a couple of decisions to go their way in order to get this particular job done and ensure they reached the end of this round of game still top of the league.

The penalty awarded them just before half-time was not a simple call. Kai Havertz certainly did his best to engineer the contact that ultimately came from Bournemouth goalkeeper Mark Travers. Bukayo Saka scored from the spot.

Then, fifteen minutes from time with Arsenal 2-0 up but far from secure, referee David Coote called a foul on Arsenal goalkeeper David Raya at the start of a schemozzle that ended with Bournemouth putting the ball in the net. 

Ten minutes after the final whistle, Declan Rice finally left the field with a smile, a wink and a thumbs up to the supporters gathered by the players¿ tunnel

Ten minutes after the final whistle, Declan Rice finally left the field with a smile, a wink and a thumbs up to the supporters gathered by the players¿ tunnel

Ten minutes after the final whistle, Declan Rice finally left the field with a smile, a wink and a thumbs up to the supporters gathered by the players’ tunnel

Arsenal secured a 3-0 win over Bournemouth to take another huge step towards the title

Arsenal secured a 3-0 win over Bournemouth to take another huge step towards the title

Leandro Trossard (left) and Rice (right) both scored in the win over Bournemouth

Leandro Trossard (left) and Rice (right) both scored in the win over Bournemouth 

Bukayo Saka (R) netted the first of the game from the spot despite claims Kai Havertz (L) dived to win the spot kick

Bukayo Saka (R) netted the first of the game from the spot despite claims Kai Havertz (L) dived to win the spot kick 

A goal to the visiting team at that stage and the Emirates would have been consumed by late nerves. VAR had a long look at that and probably should have invited Coote to have a glance at his pitch side monitor. But they didn’t and Arsenal were allowed to ease over the finish line without drama and indeed another goal of their own.

So Arteta will perhaps know that his team got on the right side of a couple here but he will also have recognised how well his team played in patches. Rice continues to stride around the Arsenal midfield with the look of a player at the peak of his considerable powers. He has been in north London for less than a season and already looks far better than he did when he arrived from West Ham.

Further forward, meanwhile, Martin Odegaard, Leandro Trossard, Saka and Havertz currently make up the most fearsome attacking quarter in the country. If they don’t win the Premier League this time round it’s hard to see anything other than another challenge arriving next time round. Arsenal have the look of a team ready to grow in to sporting middle age together.

Certainly they were marvellous early on. Trossard, Odegaard and Rice all had shots blocked from good positions. Havertz and Saka worked goalkeeper Travers from angles and then left-back Takehiro Tomiyasu saw a header from a corner hacked off the line.

The traffic had travelled only one way. Bournemouth, in truth, hadn’t looked hugely keen to engage. But as half-time loomed Arsenal hadn’t broken through and a touch of anxiety started to linger in the wind. The penalty, then, was welcome.

Havertz’s run through the inside left channel on to Odegaard’s run was well-timed and Travers was foolish to lead with his feet. He allowed Havertz to leave his own left foot trailing behind him and when the contact came the German went over. Havertz bought it, for sure. Equally, Travers’ intervention was clumsy. 

At one stage it looked as though the goalkeeper may have got his studs on the ball but after a long delay the VAR officials could not find anything concrete with which to contradict Coote and Saka was invited to score the penalty which he did easily.

Bournemouth were enraged and it was understandable. Equally, Ryan Christie’s early challenge on Saka was high and late and left its mark on the inside of his opponent’s leg. It could have been a red card.

Trossard netted the second of the game as he finished off a well-worked move

 Trossard netted the second of the game as he finished off a well-worked move

Bournemouth were left fuming after Antoine Semenyo's strike was ruled out for an apparent foul on David Raya - despite minimal contact

Bournemouth were left fuming after Antoine Semenyo's strike was ruled out for an apparent foul on David Raya - despite minimal contact

So the challenge was set now for Bournemouth. They had to play a different way – they had to be a little braver – and when they were so early in the second period they carried a threat. Justin Kluivert was impressive down the left while Dominic Solanke was equally so in a central role.

The closest they came was when Solanke drew a low save from Raya at his near post in the 53rd minute. Quarter of an hour later, with the Bournemouth threat still real, Arsenal scored what transpired to be a pivotal second goal. The deflection from Odegaard in to the path of Rice in the penalty area was a little lucky but the England player’s reverse pass with the outside of his foot towards Trossard was superb. After that, Trossard’s finish was the easy bit and the Belgian beat Travers low to his left.

That should have been the game. Bournemouth didn’t look to have two goals in them. Nevertheless they will feel sore that things went against them with fifteen minutes left. There seemed very little of note in the aerial challenges that followed Tomiyasu’s sliced clearance on the Arsenal six-yard line. 

But after Christie had struck the bar and Antoine Semenyo rammed in the rebound, Bournemouth were penalised for what was deemed to be a foul by Solanke on Raya as he tried to punch the ball clear. Bournemouth manager Andoni Iraola felt he saw a tug by Gabriel on Philip Billing before that and he may have had a point. Meanwhile, did Solanke really impede Raya in any significant way? It is hard to say so. But once again VAR looked long and hard and then did nothing.

Rice’s goal seven minutes in to added time came off the back of a lung-bursting run from deep to move on to a Gabriel Jesus pass. Timing and hard work. It’s a reasonable combination.

Three goals over the course of the piece pointed at long periods of Arsenal dominance. They said nothing, though, of some of the fine details contained within this game.

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