Arsenal travel to face Eddie Howe and his Bournemouth side with Arsene Wenger looking to catch up with runaway leaders Chelsea.
Bournemouth dismantled a poor and struggling Swansea City 3-0 in Wales over the weekend to further solidify their mid-table position. Eddie Howe’s side has produced positive displays on a consistent basis throughout the first half of the season and would be looking to start the second half with a bang as they host Arsenal.
Arsenal have managed to return to winning ways, with two successive clean-sheets and wins after back-to-back defeats. The Gunners are nine points off the pace at the top and would be looking to win here in an attempt to close that gap.
The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the fixture and the various news surrounding the matchup.
Team News & Tactics
Eddie Howe’s side come into the game already depleted by the unavailability of Jack Wilshere, who cannot play against his parent club Arsenal. Besides Wilshere, there are a few injury concerns to take care of for Eddie Howe.
Lewis Cook and Mark Pugh are the only players sidelined with injuries and are unavailable for the home fixture against Arsenal. It has been speculated that the likes of Callum Wilson and Adam Smith were rested over the weekend and may find their way back into the lineup.
Eddie Howe may have to bench Benik Afobe and Ryan Fraser in order to accommodate the aforementioned duo, if he does decide to play them.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Boruc; Francis, Steve Cook, Ake, Daniels; Arter, Surman; Smith, King, Stanislas; Wilson
Francis Coquelin is likely to come back into the starting eleven for Arsenal as Mohamed Elneny is unavailable due to his international duties with Egypt at the African Cup of Nations (AFCoN).
Chuba Akpom and Danny Welbeck have returned to training after a long time out on the sidelines but are short of match-fitness and are unlikely to be named in the playing eleven.
Besides the aforementioned updates, Arsene Wenger has several other personnel issues to take care of. While the likes of Santi Cazorla, Mathieu Debuchy, Yaya Sanogo and Per Mertesacker are long-term absentees, there are doubts over the fitness of Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs.
Olivier Giroud has been immense since being reinstated into the first eleven by Arsene Wenger and the boss is likely to keep his compatriot as the front-man with Alexis Sanchez taking his more natural place on the wing. Alex Iwobi impressed against Palace and could start alongside Alex Oxlade Chamberlain.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Xhaka; Sanchez, Chamberlain, Iwobi; Giroud
1. Over 10.5 Corners @ 2.00
1. Bournemouth Asian Handicap 0.0 @ 3.20
1. No Bournemouth player has more assists (7) or chances created (54) than their defender Charlie Daniels in the Premier League.
2. Alexis Sanchez is one goal away from equalling his best ever return of 10 goals away from home in a single season, which he achieved while playing for Udinese in the 2010-11 Serie A campaign.
3. Arsenal have faced Bournemouth just thrice in the footballing history, winning all of those games by a margin of 2 goals.
4. Callum Wilson’s converted penalty away at Emirates in November 2016 was Bournemouth’s first ever goal against Arsenal.
5. Arsenal have lost their last two away fixtures by the same scoreline of 2 goals to 1, losing after gaining the lead on each occasion.
AFC Bournemouth 2 – 1 Arsenal FC
Bournemouth have shown that they are no pushovers and do not aim to just survive every year in the Premier League. They are just inside the top half at the moment, level on points with Southampton and can go clear of the Saints with even a point against Arsenal.
The Gunners have managed brilliantly with so many injury issues but Bournemouth may just prove to be their toughest test in such a testing time for Arsene Wenger. The home crowd could just see Bournemouth make history by beating Arsenal for the first time ever on Tuesday.
Callum Wilson is set to be a key figure for Bournemouth while it would be up to Olivier Giroud to produce some heroics again, as he did against Crystal Palace, with a scorpion-kick.