Arsenal travel to the Vitality Stadium on Sunday, looking to take advantage of Bournemouth’s dip in form to get back to winning ways in the Premier League.
Bournemouth are ready to host Arsenal, with the Gunners looking to win their first match of 2018. A new year hasn’t heralded a new dawn, as Arsenal have endured a difficult start to the year. The Gunners are winless in three games so far in 2018 and have also be eliminated from the FA Cup by Nottingham Forest.
Arsene Wenger’s men have a poor away record this season and will need to start getting results on the road if they are to challenge for a place in the top four. With Liverpool and Manchester City playing later in the day, there is a chance for Arsenal to capitalise over a possible points drop by the Reds.
There has been a lot of uncertainty surrounding the futures of several key players as well as Wenger himself. Despite all the speculation though, the Arsenal manager will be hoping the team refocuses in the Premier League and closes in on a top four spot.
Bournemouth, on the other hand, will be looking to stall a run of consecutive draws and take advantage of an Arsenal side embroiled in a transfer crisis as well a lack of form, especially on the road. Despite being unbeaten in their last four games, Bournemouth start the weekend in 16th position on the table.
Team News & Tactics
Bournemouth have two players in Jermaine Defoe and Tyron Mings ruled out with long-term hamstring injuries. Eddie Howe, though, will be hopeful Joshua King and Junior Stanislas make a timely return as they would be handed late fitness tests.
If the aforementioned players do not recover in time for the game, Howe is expected to stick with the team that drew against Brighton in the last round of fixtures. Should that be the case, Callum Wilson will be a key man to get the better of a vulnerable Arsenal defence.
Ryan Fraser and Jordan Ibe, too, will look to test the wing-backs with pace and nippy movement. In midfield, the duo of Harry Arter and Andrew Surman will look to stifle the Arsenal attack and win back balls swiftly.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Begovic; Francis, Cook, Ake, Daniels; Arter, Surman; Ibe, Stanislas, Fraser; Wilson
Arsenal have quite a few injuries to their first-team players. The definite absentees for the visit to Bournemouth would be Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac and long Santi Cazorla.
Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey are also doubtful, with the former set to face a late fitness test to determine his availability on Sunday. Jack Wilshere, too, is a doubt, although Wenger remained optimistic of the midfielder’s availability.
Wilshere will be the man in focus at Bournemouth, as he returns to the clubs where he spent last season on loan. The Englishman has been on a good run of form in recent games but limped off midway through Arsenal’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg clash against Chelsea in midweek.
There may be a place for Danny Welbeck in the team on the right side of attack, but if Wenger opts for Iwobi, it would be a front three with Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette the other two. In midfield, Granit Xhaka should partner Wilshere.
Probable Starting Lineup (3-4-2-1): Cech; Chambers, Mustafi, Holding; Holding, Wilshere, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Iwobi, Sanchez; Lacazette
- Arsenal fought from 3-0 down to earn a point in this exact fixture last season, the only time they’ve ever come back from such a deficit in the Premier League.
- The Cherries have conceded in each of their last nine Premier League games – only Stoke (12) are on a longer current run coming into this matchday.
- Only Chelsea (13) have scored more headed goals than Arsenal (9) in the Premier League this season, while no side has conceded more via headers than Bournemouth (9).
- Arsenal have conceded four penalty goals in their last three games in all competitions.
- Jordon Ibe has recorded the most shots on target without finding the net in the Premier League this season (10)
1. Arsenal to win @ 1.75
2. Alexandre Lacazette to score anytime @ 1.90
1. Mesut Ozil to score anytime @ 3.75
Player To Watch
As speculation rises on his future, Alexis Sanchez is slowly hitting top form this season. Irrespective of his move away from Arsenal, Sanchez will want to find the net against Bournemouth on Sunday and help his team get out of the difficult start of the year.
A free-flowing Sanchez could also turn into a creator, especially in the absence of Mesut Ozil, and provide the spark that brings Alexandre Lacazatte back to scoring form, something missing from the French man of late.
Bournemouth 0-2 Arsenal
Arsenal are expected to come away with all three points against Bournemouth. Despite the Gunners having two of their first-choice defenders absent through injury and attackers yet to hit consistent form in front of goal, there is enough quality in this Arsenal side to see of a struggling Bournemouth side.
It shouldn’t exactly be a comfortable victory, but Arsenal are expected to win by two goals to none at the Vitality Stadium.