Arteta responds to Arsenal’s Havertz penalty gesture

Bukayo Saka’s close-range header opened the scoring, followed by penalty kicks from Martin Odegaard and Kai Havertz, and a stoppage-time header from Ben White.

The victory propels Arsenal, temporarily at least, to second place in the Premier League.

Arsenal’s German midfielder #29 Kai Havertz (2ndR) and his teammates celebrate scoring the third goal from the penalty spot during the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Arsenal at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on September 30, 2023. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The story of the afternoon at Bournemouth was not the ease with which Arsenal brushed the Cherries aside. Rather, the narrative settled on Kai Havertz’s first Arsenal goal.

Despite Bournemouth starting the match with a level of assurance that belied their winless start to the season, the Gunners seized control with a header from Bukayo Saka, only his second in senior football, following a deft cross from Martin Odegaard.

Odegaard, donning the captain’s armband, was pivotal in Arsenal‘s midfield, displaying his range of passing and vision. He found himself on the scoresheet before half-time, calmly converting a penalty after Eddie Nketiah was tripped in the area.

The Gunners were in control, efficiently nullifying Bournemouth’s efforts, including a well-timed tackle by William Saliba to deny Dominic Solanke a clear chance on goal.

In the second half, Arsenal continued to assert their dominance. Odegaard’s creativity led to a second penalty, this time dispatched by Kai Havertz for his first Arsenal goal after Odegaard and Bukayo Saka had a little chat and decided to give him the ball.

Arsenal's German midfielder #29 Kai Havertz (C) and his teammates celebrate scoring the third goal from the penalty spot during the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Arsenal at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on September 30, 2023. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Arsenal’s German midfielder #29 Kai Havertz (C) and his teammates celebrate scoring the third goal from the penalty spot during the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Arsenal at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on September 30, 2023. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The German midfielder, slowly growing into his role at the club, was enveloped in celebration by his teammates and serenaded by the travelling Arsenal supporters to the tune of Shakira’s ‘Waka Waka’.

Defensively sound and offensively compelling, Arsenal capped the day with a fourth goal, a header from Ben White from yet another Odegaard set piece.

After the game, Arteta was asked about the gesture which handed the ball to Havertz so he could relieve some of the pressure that has been building on him, driven by the media.

“Very happy [with the win],” said Arteta.

“The way we approached the game since yesterday we knew the team was ready to play. We had a big challenge. They don’t give you any time. We read the game very well and earned the right to win it.

“I’m really happy for the win, but I’m even happier to be part of a team that shows the human qualities that they do today. To show that empathy to a player that has some question marks they warmed me even more today.

“I’m so happy with our supporters the way they made him [Havertz] feel. If there’s a player who deserves that it’s him.

“Probably it will change everything. If he had any question marks about how we feel about him they are out.”

There were a few concerns after the game with the fitness of both Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Jesus.

“Yeah, he [Saka] could not continue, I don’t know, it was a big knock,” Arteta said. “I think Gabriel Jesus as well, he was limping when I saw him in the dressing room. So let’s see how we can recover players.”

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