Arsene Wenger is likely to be without key player Mesut Ozil for their trip to Bournemouth, but Shkodran Mustafi is likely to return to the lineup.
Ozil is struggling to overcome illness in time to make the trip to Bournemouth, but is unlikely to recover in time and will be unavailable for the away fixture. The already depleted Arsenal squad will also be without other stars like Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs, who are both struggling to be fit in time for the Bournemouth game.
Shkodran Mustafi featured on the bench against Crystal Palace and is likely to take his place at the centre of the defence alongside Laurent Koscielny, replacing Gabriel Paulista.
Elsewhere, Mohamed Elneny will be unavailable for at least the whole of January, if not longer, as he takes part in the African Cup of Nations (AFCoN) representing Egypt. This makes Francis Coquelin’s return to the starting lineup all the more certain, to partner the Swiss international Granit Xhaka at the heart of the midfield.
Chuba Akpom and Danny Welbeck have returned to full training after a prolonged period of absence through injury, but the Bournemouth trip comes too early for the duo and a place in the eleven looks highly unlikely for either, but they could be named on the bench.
Arsene Wenger emphasised the importance of rotation and availability of fresh players with such fixture congestion.
He said, “ We need to find some fresh legs.”
But, it is hard to see how they will be able to find fresh legs for their trip to Bournemouth. Injury issues combined with the positive results achieved by other top four rivals is likely to force Wenger to chuck rotation and go with the tried and tested players.
Wenger was forced to reinstate Olivier Giroud up-front, a move that has paid dividends with the Frenchman producing match-winning contributions in recent matches, including a magical scorpion-kick effort in the last game against Crystal Palace, a potential contender for goal of the season.
For Bournemouth, Lewis Cook and Mark Pugh are both out with injuries and are unlikely to feature against Arsenal while Gunners loanee Jack Wilshere is ineligible to play against his parent club, leaving a hole in the midfield for Eddie Howe to find a replacement for.