If Arsenal were ever in need of a win this season, it has to be this weekend after what has been a set of frustrating weeks for the supporters to sit through.
The Gunners have taken just three points from a possible nine in their last three fixtures, failing to look convincing against either of United, Spurs and most recently, PSG.
But having put the mid-week woes of not topping their Champions League group behind them, Arsene Wenger has a chance to come out of November in winning ways.
Bournemouth are a side floating along the Premier League campaign quite nicely at the moment, and Eddie Howe’s man-management has helped his side become regulars in the division.
Their form however is less predictable, and they’ve struggled when coming up against some of the ‘bigger boys’ in the league, but having found their feet are now beginning to find the right balance.
Howe’s men go into this one on the back of a hard-fought 1-0 win over Stoke City, and despite their position in 10th, they are just five points away from the drop zone so every point counts.
Whilst Wenger added strength in depth over the summer, a position he possibly didn’t account for is Santi Cazorla, who will yet again be missing from an Arsenal side who lack creativity.
Aaron Ramsey could well maintain his place in the side after a thoroughly impressive display against PSG and with more freedom to play he could be key to our attacking threats.
Carl Jenkinson will be given a chance to build a string of games together, with him likely to be rested during the mid-week EFL Cup game against Southampton.
Olivier Giroud will compete with Alexis Sanchez for the centre forward role after scoring in back-to-back games, whilst Alex Iwobi could be dropped due to poor form.
Meanwhile there’s good news on Lucas Perez, he joined in training on Friday morning and could feature against Southampton on Wednesday night.
Arsenal Absentees: P. Mertesacker (knee), D. Welbeck (knee), S. Cazorla (ankle), H. Bellerin (ankle), L. Perez (ankle)
Eddie Howe’s biggest absentee isn’t even injured… Jack Wilshere won’t be eligible to play against his parent side, however Jordan Ibe will be added to the squad selection after recovering from illness.
Goalkeeper Artur Boruc and midfielder Andrew Surman will both have late fitness tests to determine whether they’ll play, although the man with the gloves appears to be more likely.
Andrew Surman could provide expert cover for Wilshere if he is deemed to be fit enough, but if not there could be a new-look partnership of Nathan Ake and Dan Gosling at CDM.
Former Arsenal man and best friend to Wilshere, Benik Afobe, will rival Calum Wilson for a starting spot up front, Wilson has bagged three goals so far this season.
Bournemouth Absentees: J. Wilshere (ineligible), A. Boruc (doubt), A. Surman (doubt), L. Cook (hamstring)
One’s To Watch
Arsenal – Nacho Monreal
I’ve picked out the left-back this week because I think we’ve all become a little bit too comfortable with Monreal being our number one choice – when in truth he should be worried.
When Gibbs has come in to rotate with the Spaniard he’s put in a fairly decent shift, and once again the goal at United proved to be an attack that came down that side of midfield.
Monreal failed to control MOTM Antonio Valencia and holes opened up all over the pitch to give United the upper hand, so we need to see something different this weekend.
It’ll be a slightly different game because Arsenal should be on the front foot from the first whistle, and whilst we all know his strength going forward, his defensive work needs improvement.
Bournemouth – Dan Gosling
With three goals already to his name, Gosling has been the man to form a really good partnership with Wilshere in the heart of midfield, so the pressure will be on his shoulders.
Due to Wilshere missing it gives Gosling a chance to show Eddie Howe that he is good enough to pull the strings himself, and this game could provide the perfect chance.
Following Cazorla’s injury Wenger is STILL experimenting with his CDM’s and can’t seem to find the right balance of defence and attack that Cazorla brought so naturally.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Cech, Jenkinson, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Walcott, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud
Bournemouth (4-2-3-1): Boruc, Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels, Gosling, Ake, Stanislas, Arter, King, Wilson
Prediction: Arsenal 2 – 0 Bournemouth
I think this is a nice game to get Arsenal back into the swing of things, and sadly I don’t see enough in Bournemouth’s attack to break us down.
If Eddie Howe has done his research, he’ll want his side to penetrate the wide areas because both Jenkinson and Monreal haven’t filled us with confidence recently.
Despite their injuries, Arsenal have plenty of options to try something different if things aren’t going their way, and with home advantage on their side they need to give a win to these fans.
Giroud and Alexis could combine as a two up top if Wenger wants to have the defensive safety net of Xhaka and Coquelin in midfield, but hopefully an early goal should settle the nerves.
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