Arsenal will be needing to have ago themselves which may make this a very open game. Like Bournemouth they play through the thirds and the midfield will be where most eyes are focused as Harry Arter will be keen to come out on top in midfield, even if he is now unlikely to be up against Jack Wilshere.
Bournemouth’s central midfield area has been disappointing this season and it is one of the reasons why the team is not always playing with the rhythm that gets them up the pitch quickly. I’m hoping the extra rest that AFC Bournemouth’s players have had will give them a bit of an advantage.
Bournemouth will hope to have Josh King returning to the team to add extra power up front. The Cherries don’t have the breakaway speed or touch to open up teams as well without King. While Josh has not been playing we have seen Jordan Ibe cut inside more and help the strikers which has worked well, but King does score goals and we are still waiting for Ibe to deliver on that front.
Ryan Fraser will also be a man to watch. He has been at his best in going at defenders and has been shooting on target. Bournemouth will need to make their chances count if they have any chances against Arsenal and Bournemouth have been guilty of wasting opportunities in front of goal.
The defence has also been conceding at home and while the win against Everton was a big lift for the team, it is not yet known if this will be a turning point for the Cherries. Back-to back home wins have not been happening this season, and Arsenal are not a team that Bournemouth have beaten since they have been in the Premier League. Bournemouth fans will be hoping for the right attitude and belief for this match as the Cherries have threatened to beat a top six side without delivering.
The time is fast running out for the Cherries to get where they want to in the league and they can’t be going out thinking they can’t win this game before they even kick a ball. They have not started well in their last few games and Eddie Howe will want to see an improvement in the opening 20 minutes. The team has developed a sense that it can mount comebacks in second halves, but there has to be more commitment to the early parts in matches, rather than giving themselves an up hill task.
Bournemouth have been reliant on Asmir Begovic to get them out of trouble and while he can save a few shots it’s going to be vital that Bournemouth try to keep Arsenal’s shooting to long range.
Opposition player most feared
While Alxis Sanchez might want away from Arsenal, he is still a world class player and an attacking player that can take the game away from you in a matter of seconds. He usually scores against Bournemouth and he will be the main concern.
Predicted Starting XI:
Begovic; Francis, S Cook, Ake, Daniels; Ibe, Arter, Surman, Fraser; King; Wilson.
Arsenal may be a wounded animal after their FA cup exploits, but they did well enough in the Carabao Cup in mid-week.. The Cherries have been starting to play with a bit more belief but they simply haven’t done it against the top teams, unless we put Everton in that bracket. So it could be a difficult Monday morning at work, if the Cherries find themselves in the bottom three by Sunday night. Arsenal have the players to take all three points and Bournemouth need them to have an off day to pick up something, so a score line of 0-3 would not be unexpected.
Obviously, Bournemouth clearly need three points and will give it a go. But I can’t see them doing as well as Nottingham Forest with the players Arsenal will put out for this game, and a 1-2 defeat may be as close as Bournemouth get to frightening Arsenal.