Arsene Wenger admitted Arsenal had to conquer their nerves before securing the 3-1 win that thrust them back in the Premier League title race.
Wenger’s side had fallen six points behind leaders Chelsea after drawing three of their last four league games and they were in danger of another damaging setback at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Having led through Alexis Sanchez’s early goal, the Gunners were pegged back by Callum Wilson’s controversial penalty midway through the first half.
With the Arsenal faithful getting restless, Wenger revealed he had tried to calm his players down at halftime as they wrestled with the anxieties caused by three successive draws.
They responded to Wenger’s pep talk by scoring twice after halftime through Theo Walcott and Sanchez to move within three points of Chelsea.
“We started well but when they equalised we became nervous,” Wenger said.
“That is where the three draws were on our mind. It was down to us to calm down at halftime and just focus on the game.”
Wenger was frustrated by referee Mike Jones’s decision to award Bournemouth’s penalty for an innocuous collision between Wilson and Nacho Monreal and he was fearing the worst at that point.
“My view is we should have had a penalty on Sanchez and Bournemouth’s was a very soft one,” he said.
“It was shoulder to shoulder. I was really amazed he gave it.
“We became nervous and they became more dynamic. For me it’s not exactly the side I wanted to play. They are a tricky side and keep the ball well.”
Driven on by the irrepressible Sanchez, Arsenal eventually found their rhythm in the second half and Wenger was quick to pay tribute to the Chile forward, who has scored 10 goals this season.
“Sanchez, even though he looks dead, he is still alive. He finds the resources to win the ball and do something special,” Wenger said.
“He has the guts. He has that conditioning which allows him to always find an extra gear to be dangerous.”
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