LONDON â€” Olivier Giroud rescued Arsenal from embarrassment at Bournemouth, taking centre stage for the London club yet again with his third game-changing contribution in nine days.
With Arsenal three goals down entering the final 20 minutes, Giroud spearheaded a stirring fightback on the south coast in the Premier League.
After setting up Alexis Sanchez’s header and Lucas Perez’s volley, Giroud saved the biggest moment for himself – flicking home a header in stoppage time to salvage a 3-3 draw.
The 30-year-old striker only made his first start of the start of the league campaign on Dec. 26 and he has made the most of a rare break in the team.
After providing the winning goal against West Bromwich Albion on Boxing Day, the striker who divides opinion at the Emirates Stadium scored an eye-catching “scorpion” goal in Sunday’s win against Crystal Palace.
With another influential performance at Bournemouth, Giroud has made it harder for manager Arsene Wenger to return him to his usual spot on the substitutes’ bench.
Not that Giroud reveled in his impact on Tuesday night, instead bemoaning the early capitulation that saw Charlie Daniels netting and Callum Wilson scoring a penalty inside 20 minutes and Ryan Fraser putting the ball through Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech’s legs early in the second half.
“It’s a shame we conceded three goals like that,” Giroud said. “We should not have done these kind of mistakes. At halftime we wanted to come back … it’s very frustrating. Hopefully we are going to learn from our mistakes today.”
Arsenal had already reduced the deficit to 3-2 when it gained a man advantage in the 82nd minute with the dismissal of Simon Francis for a challenge on Aaron Ramsey.
“We refused to lose the game and there’s a great resilience in the team,” Wenger said.
Even with Giroud’s late equalizer, Arsenal missed a chance to regain third place from Manchester City and the club could be knocked out of the top four on Wednesday if north London rival Tottenham beats leader Chelsea.
“At least we have come back and shown great mental strength,” Giroud said.
CRYSTAL PALACE 1 , SWANSEA 2
Paul Clement took his place on the touchline hours after being appointed Swansea manager to see his new team climb off the bottom of the standings.
While Clement made an instant impact as Bob Bradley’s successor, Sam Allardyce remains winless after three games as Palace manager.
Wilfried Zaha looked to have rescued a point for Palace in the 83rd minute when he cancelled out Alfie Mawson’s header but substitute Angel Rangel netted the Swansea winner five minutes later at Selhurst Park.
STOKE 2, WATFORD 0
Ryan Shawcross started at the end of the first half and Peter Crouch scored quickly after the interval to move Stoke nine points clear of the drop zone. A fifth winless game for Watford left the team two points further behind Stoke.
Rob Harris, The Associated Press