Having prevailed with a comfortable 2-0 home victory over Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day, Arsenal will be looking to secure their third successive Premier League win when they travel to the Vitality Stadium with Bournemouth up next.
In the previous fixture, Arsenal were 3-1 winners with Alexis Sánchez netting a brace but the match itself was hard-fought. Eddie Howe’s side have drawn comparisons to Arsenal’s style of play with their slick passing moves in the final third and after Callum Wilson equalised from the penalty spot, there was genuine unrest inside the Emirates as the Cherries could’ve easily taken their momentum and turned it into more goals on the afternoon.
The importance of matches like this cannot be understated, especially given the missed opportunities for maximum points in December. Consecutive 2-1 defeats at the hands of Everton and Manchester City have seen the Gunners’ title hopes dented, not least due to Chelsea’s impressive form since the beginning of October.
Arsenal’s shortcomings against better sides bar the Premier League leaders this season mean they have to take advantage of favourable fixtures against teams like Bournemouth, who are good in their own right but can be beaten with moments of quality by the same players who have glory set in their sights such as integral duo Mesut Özil and Sánchez, who are both believed to be in ongoing talks regarding renewed contracts to remain at the club for the long-term future.
Post-Crystal Palace, there are no fresh injury updates and rotation is naturally expected with matches in quick succession.
Mohamed Elneny impressed with his individual display against Sam Allardyce’s side but will be linking up with Egypt as they prepare for the upcoming African Cup of Nations tournament, which starts in just under two weeks.
It’s likely that Francis Coquelin will return to the starting line-up in his place, with Aaron Ramsey a viable option to come off the substitutes’ bench. The Welshman, who has endured a staggered season thus far, made a 20-minute cameo towards the end of our 2-0 win on Sunday afternoon.
Kieran Gibbs (knee) and Theo Walcott (calf) both remain selection doubts, whilst Özil (illness) didn’t feature in the matchday squad altogether and it’s uncertain as to whether the German midfielder will recover in time for an appearance.
Possible XI (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bellerín, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal; Coquelin, Xhaka; Iwobi, Ox, Alexis; Giroud.
Bournemouth have struggled for consistency this term and their commanding 3-0 win away against Swansea was their first in three, having conceded six in two games against Southampton and Chelsea.
Eddie Howe’s side are a good one and will pose similar threats to those they did at the Emirates, but will anticipate the home advantage given the atmospheric nature of the crowd inside the Vitality Stadium. Their dramatic 4-3 win over Liverpool at the start of December is testament to that, and they’ll refuse to give up playing regardless of the scoreline.
They’ll be without creator-in-chief Jack Wilshere courtesy of new Premier League regulation rules which state loanee players cannot feature against their parent club, so will look elsewhere in an attempt to improvise and cause Arsenal’s backline all kinds of trouble.
Junior Stanislas has netted three and created four assists this term, his presence in attack alongside that of Joshua King and Callum Wilson – who have eight goals and two assists between them – could prove tricky to deal with.
Possible XI (4-2-3-1): Boruc; Daniels, Aké, Cook, Francis; Arter, Gosling; Stanislas, Ibe, King; Wilson.