Arsenal host Bournemouth at the Emirates on Wednesday night, hoping to secure all three points one again and keep their place in the top four.
Arsenal’s away form this season has been an area of concern, but the Gunners have shown no signs of faltering when playing at home. Unai Emery’s men have taken 35 points at the Emirates in their last 13 games in the Premier League, matching the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City with such a number. In fact, Arsenal have not lost at home since their opening day defeat to Manchester City.
Their most recent outing saw the North Londoners notch up a morale-boosting 2-0 win over Southampton on Sunday. After enduring an inconsistent run of form in February, wherein Arsenal lost two and won three of their games, Emery will be looking to end the month with a win over Bournemouth and keep hold of the fourth spot ahead of Manchester United and Chelsea.
Their opponents, Bournemouth have endured a difficult period lately as they remain winless in the last three games played in the league. The Cherries have lost twice and drawn once during this period, with their hopes of building on their excellent 4-0 win over Chelsea being dashed. Eddie Howe will be hoping to end this poor run with a win over Arsenal, although it will be a tough ask at the Emirates.
In addition to their dismal run of results in recent weeks, Bournemouth have also lost 11 of their last 17 games while their away form, in particular, is an area of concern. The Cherries have played 13 of their games away from home and have lost 10, and this is something Howe will be looking to resolve with a good result against Arsenal.
Team News & Tactics
After the win over Southampton, Emery stated he would be relying on squad rotation for the coming games, and we could see some changes made for the game against the Cherries. With one eye on the North London Derby against Tottenham on Saturday, Emery could rest a few key stars and replace them with fringe players.
On the injury front, Arsenal have mixed news as Alex Iwobi and Stephan Lichtsteiner remain doubts after picking up knocks over the weekend. However, Ainsley Maitland-Niles has made a timely recovery from his illness and is likely to replace Lichtsteiner at right-back.
Mesut Ozil could also feature from the off, replacing Aaron Ramsey, while Sokratis Papastathopoulos could be rested in favour of a Laurent Koscielny-Shkodran Mustafi central defensive partnership.
Emery could also rest Granit Xhaka in midfield, replacing him with Matteo Guendouzi. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be back in the starting lineup and replace Alexandre Lacazette as the central striker, while Denis Suarez could make his first start on the left side of the attack, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan continuing on the opposite flank after his impressive performance against Southampton.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Torreira, Guendouzi; Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Suarez; Aubameyang
Eddie Howe will have to tinker through his squad to field his strongest possible lineup against Arsenal. Bournemouth are missing a few key stars ahead of their visit to the Emirates with David Brooks and Callum Wilson missing for the Cherries.
Jefferson Lerma will also miss the game due to suspension and could be replaced by Andrew Surman. Steve Cook is also unavailable due to a groin complaint and is unlikely to be used even if he makes it into the 18-man squad.
Howe will also have to choose between Diego Rico and Charlie Daniels for the left-back role, while Nathaniel Clyne looks likely to keep hold of the right-back slot. Nathan Ake and Chris Mepham will complete the defensive line as Bournemouth’s centre-backs against the Gunners.
Another area of concern for Howe will be the central striker position. With Wilson absent, Howe could opt for Lys Mousset ahead of former Liverpool man Dominic Solanke, who has played each of the last two games. Meanwhile, Ryan Fraser and Josh King remain certain starters.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Boruc; Clyne, Mepham, Ake, Rico; Ibe, Gosling, Surman, Fraser; King; Mousset
1. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.53
2. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.70
1. Correct Scoreline – Arsenal 2-1 Bournemouth @ 9.00
- Arsenal have won all four of their home meetings with Bournemouth in all competitions by an aggregate score of 11-1
- Bournemouth have won just one of their eight meetings in all competitions with Arsenal (D1 L6), beating them 2-1 at the Vitality Stadium last season.
- Only Manchester City (39) have won more home Premier League points this season than Arsenal (35 – W11 D2 L1)
- Bournemouth have lost each of their last eight away Premier League games, conceding at least two goals each time.
- English managers have collected just one point in their last 16 Premier League visits to the Emirates against Arsenal (P16 W0 D1 L15) since Garry Monk led Swansea City to a 1-0 win in May 2015.
Player to Watch
With games coming in thick and fast, Unai Emery chose to keep Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the bench for much of the game against Southampton, although he is likely to return on Wednesday. The striker, who was once leading the Golden Boot race has now fallen behind other top forwards in the league, and a professional performance against Bournemouth could restore parity.
Aubameyang needs to score desperately, not just to get back to the top of the leading goalscorer charts, but also to help Arsenal retain the fourth spot they currently occupy. Additionally, with the North London Derby on the horizon, he needs to get back to the form that helped Arsenal win the last round at the Emirates.
Arsenal 2-1 Bournemouth
Bournemouth are missing key stars such as David Brooks and Callum Wilson, which is a big blow for Eddie Howe, although they do have the players in them to nick a goal or two. Arsenal, however, have shown great strength and resilience at home, and it has become tricky for teams to beat them at the Emirates.
Expect Arsenal to keep hold of their place in the top four with a win over the stuttering Bournemouth side on Wednesday. The Gunners’ attack would prove to be too good for the Cherries to handle, although their defence still has plenty of questions to answer. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Unai Emery & co.