His side may have been thwarted by a quite remarkable comeback last night, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe.
Many are expecting the 39-year-old to take over the reins when Arsene Wenger eventually calls it a day at Arsenal. And that day could be sooner than we think, with speculation increasing that this will be the Frenchman’s last season in charge at the Emirates.
So did his potential successor pass the test?
For 70 minutes, absolutely.
The Cherries never gave Arsenal a moment’s rest, closing down every ball, pressurising a shaky defence at every opportunity.
Bear in mind that this is a side which played Swansea off the park in a 3-0 victory away from home just three days prior to this game. Howe has turned his players into athletes, and it’s a theme that runs through the core of his side.
For that reason, we’ll excuse the final 20 minutes of last night’s game, and put it down to sheer tiredness after a hectic festive period.
He played Arsenal at their own game
It’s fair to say that not much will change in terms of style at the Emirates, should Howe take over from Wenger.
The home side completely dominated possession in the first-half, only for the Gunners to take control in the latter stages of the game.
And Howe was very Wenger-like in his approach in the final few minutes.
Despite having squandered a three-goal lead, he was still pushing players forward for a winner, and was almost rewarded but for a fine Petr Cech save in injury time.
Both managers share a similar philosophy, with their sides being attractive to watch, quick on the counter attack, yet significantly weaker defensively than they are going forward.
In fact, while only Crystal Palace have scored more than the Cherries in the bottom-14 of the Premier League table, they’ve conceded a staggering 34 goals in 20 games.
Though Arsenal’s defensive problems aren’t that bad, it’s worth noting that both Arsenal and Bournemouth have managed just six clean sheets this year.
Though it’d be a remarkable story to see Howe, who took over at Bournemouth when the club were facing relegation from the Football League back in 2009, take over at Arsenal, it’s worth considering the following points…
He’s won promotion from three divisions in his time as a manager, so it’s clear he isn’t lacking in experience.
But this is a whole different ball game. We’re talking about a side that wants to be challenging for Premier League titles and European silverware. Howe has never experienced either.
Nor has he dealt with huge names such as Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. He’s proved he’s capable of getting the best out of good players, but how would he fare when trying to get more out of world-class players?
In Howe’s defence it’s worth noting that without question, the biggest player he’s worked with in his career has been Jack Wilshere, who’s on loan from Arsenal. And right now, the England international is in the form of his life.
So could that pair be working alongside each other again in north London next season?
We appreciate that a decision won’t be made based on one performance. But there were plenty of positives for Gooners to take from their potential new boss last night.
What do fans think? Is Howe the right man for the job, or should Arsenal look elsewhere?
Have your say in the comments section below!
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