Arsenal travel to Bournemouth on the back of a winless start to 2018 and hopes a win would boost their confidence in the top four race.
Bournemouth host Arsenal on Sunday with both teams looking for their first win of 2018. Although the Cherries and the Gunners are unbeaten so far, both have ambitions to climb up the table, making this a crucial fixture for them.
Arsene Wenger’s side has multiple injury problems in each department. In Arsenal’s midweek Carabao Cup semi-final first leg stalemate against Chelsea, Jack Wilshere limped off the pitch with an ankle injury to add to the defensive woes in midfield.
Wenger, though, has confirmed in his pre-match press conference that the Englishman only has a minor problem, and has a good chance of starting on Sunday. The Arsenal boss also provided updates on the other injured players, with Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey inching closer to their return to action.
“From Wednesday night, we had of course Jack, who was injured. We had very good news yesterday morning. I saw him walking normally and his scan was good. He’s not out of the game on Sunday yet, so that is positive news.”
“We’ll have Ramsey back in the squad. We have an uncertainty over Ozil, who will have a test earliest tomorrow. That at the moment is a bit 50:50. All the other players will still be out for Bournemouth.”
Ramsey’s timely return should see him feature from the bench with Wenger likely to stick to Granit Xhaka and Wilshere in the pivot for now. Olivier Giroud seems to be the only forward casualty for this clash, with Laurent Koscielny, Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal and Santi Cazorla the other players on the treatment table.
In defence, Wenger should stick with Ainsley Maitland-Niles at left wing-back in the absence of Kolasinac. In the back-three, Koscielny and Monreal’s unavailability should pave the way for Rob Holding and Calum Chambers to enjoy an extended run in the side.
Up front, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette seem to be certain starters, with Alex Iwobi likely to make up the numbers in attack. Danny Welbeck is a possible option too, but Iwobi was in good form in the cup tie against Chelsea and could get the nod ahead of the English striker.
A close eye will be on Alexis Sanchez as speculation rises about his future, with both Manchester clubs circling. The Chilean is slowly hitting his stride and getting back to the form that saw him score 30 goals last season.
Arsene Wenger will again be absent from the Arsenal technical area as he completes his three-match touchline ban and will be again confined to the stands as he was against Chelsea.