Ahead of the trip to Bournemouth Manchester City were winless in five away games. For a team that has become synonymous with winning, that's a surprising statistic. But the team has disappointed several times this season especially when facing struggling sides in the division. Surprising 1-1 results have come against Aston Villa, Everton and more recently Nottingham Forest.
Failure to win against Bournemouth would have been costly especially when faced with the task of fighting off Arsenal's challenge for the Premier League title. Hence, winning at the Vitality Stadium had become a necessity.
After the disappointing setback at Nottingham Forest where the team dominated the game as usual yet dropped two points, it was time to make a statement. With Mikel Arteta's Arsenal finding ways to get past opponents and stay top of the table, the Blues are now left with no other choice than to prove themselves worthy of another league crown all over again.
The team needed to make a statement away at Bournemouth and did exactly that with a strong first half performance. A comfortable 3-0 lead at the break killed off any chances of another upset. By the time both teams filed out for the second half, it was just a case of capping off a fine performance with a good finish.
Sitting five points clear at the top of the table after a comfortable 1-0 victory over Leicester City, Arsenal have the league title to lose at this point. Another poor result at Bournemouth would have put City in a very difficult position.
City cannot afford any more slip-ups with in-form Manchester United following closely from behind. Prior to kickoff, United were just three points behind and would love an opportunity to climb to second place. Doing that at the expense of City will make it even more satisfying.
Under immense pressure, the Blues provided the perfect answer to their critics. Arsenal can expect a fight to finish heading into the final 13 games of the campaign. Arteta's men have so far passed several tests to get here. With key players like Thomas Partey and Gabriel Jesus back from injury the team is getting even more confident.
However, City have been here before and surmounted the challenge. Having a return fixture against Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium means a chance to bridge the gap further. But will that be enough? Certainly not, unless the team shakes off the recent habit of dropping points unexpectedly against small teams.