Mikel Arteta said Arsenal’s attitude was “better than I expected” after the Gunners rescued a point at Bournemouth in the Spaniard’s first match in charge.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 12th Premier League goal of the season cancelled out Dan Gosling’s first-half strike against the run of play.
The Gunners reach the halfway stage of the season in the bottom half of the table after winning just one of their last 11 league games, yet Arteta believes there were enough positives against Bournemouth to be optimistic about the second half of the campaign.
“I am pleased with a lot of things I have seen and a lot of things we practised that happened,” said the former Arsenal captain, who was appointed as head coach on a three-and-a-half-year deal last week.
“I am not happy we have not won the game but happy overall. In terms of attitude, desire and commitment it was better than I expected.”
Midfielder Gosling gave the hosts the lead from close range after Jack Stacey’s cut back before Arsenal’s captain came to the rescue.
Aubameyang struck with a first-time shot after Reiss Nelson’s attempt from the edge of the penalty area deflected into the Gabon forward’s path.
Arsenal reach the midway point closer to the relegation zone than the top four and have now dropped 24 points from the last 11 top-flight games, with home matches against Chelsea on Sunday and Manchester United on 1 January coming up.
As the Arsenal players went to applaud the away fans at the end of an entertaining game, there was a special cheer for Arteta.
The Spaniard saw his side create plenty of chances in the opening 45 minutes yet Aubameyang’s goal, a sweeping instinctive finish, was their first attempt on target after a string of missed opportunities, mainly by Alexandre Lacazette.
The Gunners once again made life hard for themselves, a careless pass allowing Gosling to put Bournemouth ahead towards the end of the first half – dashing hopes of back-to-back clean sheets away in the Premier League for the first time since February 2016.
Mesut Ozil began the Arteta era with a recall and started well creating a couple of chances before being replaced by Joe Willock.
The young substitute had a chance to win it in the closing stages but Arsenal were far from clinical in front of goal and his shot was comfortably kept out by Aaron Ramsdale as Bournemouth secured a deserved point.
Bournemouth are just two points above the relegation zone yet this was a spirited performance by Eddie Howe’s side whose character has been questioned during the first half of the season.
Their first 19 games include losing to a Crystal Palace side reduced to 10 men for 71 minutes, losing at Newcastle after leading, allowing Burnley to score an 89th-minute winner and letting leads slip against Sheffield United and West Ham.
Against Arsenal, the Cherries produced the kind of defiant performance their fans have become accustomed to since promotion in 2015.
Steve Cook marked his return from a fractured wrist with a gutsy performance at the back while Stacey, a League One player with Luton last season, produced a lovely assist for Gosling.
Former Everton and Newcastle player Gosling followed up his winner at Chelsea this month with a clever finish to score against the run of play.
Bournemouth had failed to manage a shot on target in two of their previous three matches.
They managed four in this game as they showed a determination that will have pleased Howe ahead of back-to-back away games at Brighton and West Ham, who sit immediately above and below them in the table.