Arsenal stayed a point ahead of Manchester United in the race for the Champions League by thrashing Bournemouth 5-1 to earn their eighth

straight English Premier League (EPL) home win.

Mesut Ozil, who was recalled to the side, fired the Gunners ahead before setting up Henrikh Mkhitaryan to sweep in the second.

A defensive mistake allowed Bournemouth to pull

a goal back through Lys Mousset’s simple finish, but any hopes the visitors had of ending a miserable run of seven successive league

defeats on the road quickly ended after the break.

Skipper Laurent Koscielny blasted in from close range following a set-piece before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang added another when he was given the space to race clear and calmly slot in.

Substitute Alexandre Lacazette sealed victory for the gunners with a sublime free-kick as Arsenal warmed up

for Saturday’s north London derby in style.

Bournemouth’s visit to the Emirates Stadium was seen as a must-win by Gunners fans with, in what should be the trickier test compared to Sunday’s fixture against arch-rivals Spurs and Manchester United in their next two EPL games.

These matches plus the two-legged Europa League last-16 tie against Rennes look set to

define manager Unai Emery’s first season at the

A healthy points haul against Spurs and United would consolidate the Gunners’ place in the top four as they head into the final stretch.

But failure to beat either would leave the race for the top four wide open.


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