Arsenal prepare to face Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday as Unai Emery seeks a win after three consecutive draws in the Premier League
After a strong start to their season, when Bournemouth won six of their first ten Premier League games, the Cherries suffered a setback with successive defeats to Manchester United and Newcastle United in their last two games.
Eddie Howe’s men now face an in-form Arsenal side at the Vitality Stadium, with Bournemouth looking to close the gap on their opponents, who occupy fifth place on the Premier League table.
While Bournemouth seem to have lost their well-built momentum, Arsenal will provide a stern test of their credentials, despite the Gunners’ own slight drop in form. However, Howe’s men are showing good confidence, with the Cherries sitting above the likes of Manchester United and Everton in the standings.
Meanwhile, Unai Emery will be hoping Arsenal do not lose further ground to the top four, having drawn their last three Premier League games. Despite those setbacks, Arsenal still remain unbeaten in their last 16 outings across all competitions.
However, another set of dropped points will likely put more pressure on the Arsenal manager, as they already sit three points adrift of the top four and eight away from leaders Manchester City. Emery though, will be hoping that his side produces much better performance than they did against Wolves last time out.
The Gunners were very fortunate to come out of that clash with a draw after scoring late through a lucky Henrikh Mkhitaryan strike. Against Bournemouth, Emery’s goal will be all three points, as a draw or a defeat would mean disaster for Arsenal, who have built decent momentum for themselves.
Team News & Tactics
Bournemouth have been an altogether different side this season in terms of their attacking displays, with the likes of Callum Wilson, David Brooks, Joshua King and Ryan Fraser all in top form up front. However, it is the side’s defence that has shined brighter having conceded only five goals in their last six games.
Meanwhile, the international break was a boon for Eddie Howe and his side, for the Cherries could assess several players during this period for the many knocks and problems they were suffering from ahead of the near-fortnight long rest.
The most significant boost for Howe would be the return to action of Joshua King, who had been sitting on the sidelines for a month with an ankle injury, although it remains to be seen if he’d be used from the get-go against Arsenal.
It is likely that King might play some part in the game from the bench. Bournemouth though, are set to be without the services of defender Adam Smith for up to three months. The defender suffered a knee injury against Newcastle, and Howe will have to contend without his services.
The absentees and King’s role from the bench means, Dan Gosling will start the game again in place of the Norwegian, in a midfield three. Otherwise, Howe does not have any concerns with his strong front three and will be able to field a formidable starting lineup against Arsenal.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Begovic; Francis, Steve Cook, Ake, Daniels; Lewis Cook, Lerma, Gosling; Brooks, Fraser, Wilson
Unai Emery might have a few pressing concerns surrounding some of his key attackers. While Danny Welbeck is tipped to miss the rest of the season with an ankle fracture, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette will be assessed late on before the game to consider their involvement.
Both forwards missed out for their respective national sides over the last two weeks, after withdrawing with minor complaints. As things stand though, the duo could start before being rested in the midweek for their UEFA Europa League tie.
Defensively, Arsenal have a few problems, especially with their left-back slot. Nacho Monreal still remains out with a hamstring problem, and it is entirely unclear if Sead Kolasinac will be fully fit to start. Emery, however, could call upon Ainsley Maitland-Niles to start at the left side of the Arsenal defence.
There has been positive news on captain Laurent Koscielny’s imminent return from his achilles problem, although the Frenchman will not feature against Bournemouth. Otherwise, Arsenal have a full-strength squad, with Emery expected to name his most potent lineup.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Maitland-Niles; Torreira, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette
- Bournemouth have only one win in their last six meetings with Arsenal, although the victory came back in January this year.
- Arsenal have scored in each of their last seven games against Bournemouth, finding the back of the net 17 times in the process.
- Arsenal conceded the first goal in each of their last three Premier League games, all of which ended in a draw.
- The Gunners have scored at least two goals in their last five away games in the Premier League.
- Bournemouth have not lost consecutive home games since August 2017.
1. Over 10.5 Corners @ 2.00
2. Alexandre Lacazette to score anytime @ 2.10
1. Over 14 Corners @ 7.50
Player to Watch
Leno endured a difficult period at the beginning of the season after Emery only found a place on the bench for him. But, since Petr Cech’s injury-enforced absence, the German has surpassed expectations. The last game against Wolves proved Leno’s credentials, with the 26-year-old producing a top-class outing making many vital, match-saving stops.
Against Bournemouth Leno will be in focus, especially with Arsenal being susceptible at the back and Bournemouth being potent in front of goal. The German will need to be on guard, and if Arsenal’s defence is to falter, all eyes will be on Leno to make the difference yet again. Expect him to have a busy day against Bournemouth.
Bournemouth 1-3 Arsenal
Arsenal have been one of the most prolific sides in the Premier League this season, and it feels like only a matter of time before they score loads of goals past an opponent. In their last three games, the goals have been dried up to an extent, but the Gunners should hit top gear against Bournemouth, who, like Arsenal, tend to open themselves up quite a bit sometimes.
The Cherries do have the necessary quality to trouble any top side in the Premier League, and they are expected to do so to Arsenal as well. The Gunners’ untidy defence will be the sole reason why they might not keep a clean sheet, although Unai Emery’s men should prevail by a healthy margin in the end.