Arsenal host Bournemouth at The Emirates on Sunday afternoon, with Jack Wilshere set to watch on from the sidelines
The Gunners are on an 18-match unbeaten run in all competitions, but have disappointingly drawn their last 3 games. Their recent form in the league has also been rather disappointing, with the Gunners having drawn 3 of their last 5 games.
This has seen them drop to fourth place in the table, 3 points away from league leaders Chelsea, and another draw will mean that their title credentials need to seriously be questioned.
Bournemouth have also had a mixed season thus far, managing to only pick up 4 victories and 3 draws in their 12 games so far.
This has seen them placed 10th in the table, and Eddie Howe will be looking to improve on that position by trying to claim a point at the Emirates.
Team News & Tactics
Arsenal came out of the mid-week game against Paris Saint-Germain with no new injuries. Danny Welbeck and Per Mertesacker remain sidelined with long term injuries, while Hector Bellerin and Santi Cazorla are also recovering from injuries with no specific return date in mind. Lucas Perez has returned to training, but will not be fit for tomorrow afternoon’s game.
Olivier Giroud started in mid-week against Paris Saint-Germain, but it is likely that Wenger will revert to his preferred tactic this season of playing Alexis Sanchez up front.
Wenger spoke about Granit Xhaka earlier today, saying the midfielder needs time to adapt to the English Premier league, so it is unlikely that Xhaka will start and Wenger will likely stick to the midfield pair of Francis Coquelin and Aaron Ramsey that he opted for in mid-week.
Theo Walcott didn’t feature against PSG due to a minor toe injury in mid-week, and will return to the side against Bournemouth. Petr Cech will return to the side, after David Ospina replaced him in the Champions League in midweek as is the norm
Arsenal cannot afford to drop any more points, and will definitely be looking to attack Bournemouth from the get go. Bournemouth are not afraid to attack either, and Arsenal will be looking to score early and pile the pressure on Eddie Howe’s side.
Probable Line-Up (4-2-3-1) : Cech, Jenkinson, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Ramsey, Coquelin, Iwobi, Ozil, Walcott, Sanchez
Bournemouth will be without on-loan midfielder Jack Wilshere, who is not eligible to face his parent club Arsenal. Goalkeeper Artur Boruc faces a late fitness test on his back problem, which means Adam Federici could deputise for him once again, while Andrew Surman has been struggling with a hamstring injury and is unlikely to feature for The Cherries.
Defender Adam Smith returns from a one-match suspension and midfielder Jordon Ibe is expected to be available following illness. Australia defender Brad Smith (foot) and midfielder Lewis Cook (ankle) both continue their rehabilitation.
Eddie Howe is a shrewd manager who will be looking to snatch a point at The Emirates, and while Bournemouth are not afraid to attack, there is no doubt they will be very wary of Arsenal’s attacking prowess, so you can expect Bournemouth to sit deep and attempt to surprise Arsenal on the counter-attack.
Probable Line-Up (4-2-3-1) : Federici, Francis, Daniels, Mings, Ake, Gosling, Arter, Stanislas, King, Ibe, Wilson
Player to watch out for
Walcott will be fresh after his mid-week rest – which Wenger later confirmed was precaution due to a minor toe injury – and will be looking to pick up where he left off before his injury.
Bournemouth’s attempts to counter and their tendency to push their full-backs forward could leave lots of space for the pacy forward to exploit, and Walcott could well grab a goal in tomorrow’s fixture.
- Arsenal have won all three of their previous matches against Bournemouth in all competitions, scoring seven and conceding none.
- Mesut Ozil has been involved in three of Arsenal’s four Premier League goals against the Cherries, scoring two and assisting one.
- Arsenal have surprisingly conceded twice as many Premier League goals at home this season (8) as they have away from home (4).
- Arsenal are the only side in the Premier League yet to be losing at half-time in a match this season (winning six, drawing six). The Gunners haven’t been behind in a Premier League game at half-time since February 28th 2016
- In his last eight Premier League appearances, Olivier Giroud has had eight shots on target and scored with seven of these
1. Bournemouth Asian Handicap +1.0,1.5 @ 1.975
2. Over 3 Asian Cards @ 1.80
1. Draw or Bournemouth @ 3.00
Arsenal 2-0 Bournemouth
Eddie Howe’s side are quite suspect defensively, and Arsenal’s attacking prowess will likely be too much for them to handle. Arsenal will not blow them away, however, as their recent struggles in front of goal show no sign of abating.
However, the return of Theo Walcott and Giroud’s prowess off the bench will likely mean that Arsenal run out 2-0 victors in what should be a testing game for the Gunners.
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