Does winning the 2019 Ballon d'Or cement Messi as the greatest ever?

By December 02, 2019
Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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  • Arteta's Arsenal pride tempered by need for reinforcements after Mustafi blow Arteta's Arsenal pride tempered by need for reinforcements after Mustafi blow

    Mikel Arteta was proud of his young Gunners after Arsenal secured an FA Cup fifth-round spot with a win over Bournemouth.

    The visitors, 13-time winners of the competition, secured a 2-1 triumph at the Vitality Stadium with Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah on target before substitute Sam Surridge grabbed a late consolation in an otherwise one-sided tie.

    Arsenal's two goalscorers were the standout performers in a youthful line-up on a night when Arteta's defensive options were further depleted by a serious-looking injury for Shkodran Mustafi.

    Arteta, while pleased with Monday's display, admitted the club would need to dip into the transfer market to bolster his squad, with a fifth-round trip to Portsmouth added to their schedule. 

    "Very pleased. It's always tough to come here and win, we've done it with a young team as well," the Gunners boss told BBC Sport.

    "I have a lot of faith in them. I think they are developing really well. They are willing and hungry and will only get better.

    "We analyse opponents and try to generate situations that are favourable for our players.

    "I was worried with their history in the last few weeks we would concede in the last few minutes.

    "Our history with this cup is massive for the club. We need to take it step by step."

    On the injury to Mustafi and his hopes to bring in reinforcements, Arteta added: "We will have to assess him but when Mustafi has to come off, normally it is not good.

    "We are in the market. We are looking for some things with the resources we have and we will tell you when we have more news."

    Opposite number Eddie Howe conceded his side lost the tactical battle and did not work hard enough without the ball to match their visitors.

    "There were tactical problems for us," said the Cherries manager. "We changed system a couple of times but we weren't ourselves out of possession.

    "We were second in the battles. Against quality teams that is what you have to master."

  • Bournemouth 1-2 Arsenal: Arteta's young Gunners set up Portsmouth clash Bournemouth 1-2 Arsenal: Arteta's young Gunners set up Portsmouth clash

    Arsenal's love affair with the FA Cup continued with a 2-1 fourth-round victory over Bournemouth on Monday.

    The competition's most successful club, with 13 wins, secured a last-16 trip to 2008 winners Portsmouth courtesy of a deserved triumph at the Vitality Stadium. 

    Bukayo Saka opened the scoring inside five minutes to cap a fine team move involving all 10 outfield players, with Eddie Nketiah doubling the visitors' lead before the break.

    Mikel Arteta's side conceded a late goal to Sam Surridge after he came off the bench for the Cherries, whose focus will switch back to the task of Premier League survival.

    Arsenal made an early statement of intent with an excellent display of passing and movement that led to Saka thrashing home the opener from the corner of the six-yard box, Joe Willock and Gabriel Martinelli proving particularly influential in the build-up. 

    The industrious Willock was in the thick of the action again midway through the half, eluding Dan Gosling before calling goalkeeper Mark Travers into action.

    Saka turned provider for Nketiah, the former Leeds United loanee rolling in from close range at the end of the opening goalscorer's low cross in the 26th minute. 

    Bournemouth, who ended a six-match winless run in the league with a 3-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion last time out, looked bereft of ideas and spent much of the first half on the defensive, with Harry Wilson's strike providing the only meaningful work for Emiliano Martinez.

    Arsenal lost Shkodran Mustafi to a serious-looking injury just past the hour mark and suffered a brief scare when Martinez flapped at a corner, the ball spinning wide off the head of the seemingly oblivious Jack Simpson.

    Arteta's side appeared to be cruising until Surridge halved the deficit in stoppage time from fellow substitute Simon Francis' probing ball, but it was too little too late and the Spaniard will be hopeful of adding to the two FA Cups he won as a player with the Gunners.

     

    What does it mean? Arteta eyes season's silver lining

    While a top-four finish in the Premier League may not be beyond Arsenal's reach, it is a significant stretch for a side whose top-flight win tally of six matches Bournemouth's exploits this season. That leaves the FA Cup as a sizeable consolation prize for a club with a proud history in this competition.

    Lively Saka catches the eye

    Saka's impact on the game is evident from his goal and assist, but the 18-year-old's all-round display was just as noteworthy, with an 87.5 per cent passing accuracy, five recoveries and two chances created.

    Howe bad was that?

    Cherries boss Howe made six changes from the victory against Brighton and, with top-flight safety his primary objective, you can understand why. But the side he put out looked lost, producing a disjointed and tactically inept display that saw the tie put beyond their reach before the half-hour mark, with Surridge's late strike failing to paper over the cracks.

    What's next?

    Arsenal head to Turf Moor on Sunday to take on a Burnley side who sit level with them on 30 points, while Bournemouth welcome Aston Villa for a crunch six-pointer on Saturday. 

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