Bournemouth vs Arsenal preview:  Gunners eyeing cup progression in Premier League glamour tie
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal FC at Vitality Stadium on December 26, 2019 in Bournemouth, United Kingdom. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

This is Arsenal territory.

As record-holders, and with a manager who has lifted the trophy himself, Mikel Arteta's spirited Gunners will travel to the South Coast tomorrow with every confidence they can advance into the next phase of an Emirates FA Cup campaign that may well come to define Arteta's reign at The Emirates. Eddie Howe's Bournemouth stand in their way of a place in the fifth round.

It was honours even between the two sides back in December, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's 63rd-minute equaliser earning a much-deserved point for Arsenal during Arteta's first game in charge. They have won just once since then, though can take great cause for optimism from a battling draw at Stamford Bridge last time out.

Bournemouth, meanwhile, swept aside a hapless Luton Town in the previous round, but it was their 3-1 basement battle victory over Brighton and Hove Albion that Howe will be most satisfied with. An unconvincing win indeed, but they will not care. The Cherries are in a relegation dogfight.

Team news

Bournemouth's well-documented injury troubles have undoubtedly softened in recent weeks, with Jack Stacey and Josh King the only notable absentees for tomorrow's FA Cup clash. Steve Cook and Jordon Ibe may also be welcomed back into the fold, the former returning from suspension after his reckless handball at Carrow Road

Arsenal, meanwhile,  will be without Sead Kolašinac (thigh), Kieran Tierney (shoulder), Reiss Nelson (hamstring) and Callum Chambers (long-term ACL injury), who make up a rather substantial injury list exacerbated by the suspension of David Luiz

Sokratis will be assessed after missing the draw against Chelsea through illness.

Cup run may well bide Arteta some time

Although spirits are high after Héctor Bellerin's late equaliser on Tuesday, the scale and magnitude of the job on Arteta's hands is unavoidable.

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A mere glance at the league table provides a painful summary of their deep-lying issues. The Gunners are languishing in 10th, closer to the relegation zone than the Champions League places, and in serious danger of slipping into mid-table anonymity. The squad needs investment, particularly defensively, and Arteta needs time to implement his ideologies. 

The Spaniard may not have hit the ground running in terms of results, though the changes in mentality and desire have been undeniable, epitomized in the draw on Tuesday where the ten men of Arsenal had to dig deep into their rich reserves of character to grind out a hard-fought point. Such grit was often absent under Unai Emery.

Still, defensive calamities were rife in West London, with two scandalous pieces of defending on Arsenal's behalf allowing Chelsea to twice take the lead. Its been an issue apparent ever since the latter years of Arsene Wenger's tenure, and the longer the board avoid investment into the defence, the longer this will carry on.

Though even then, Arsenal were a different beast in the FA Cup. It's a competition the "club are attached to" as Arteta pointed out prior to the 1-0 win over Leeds United in the third round.

Arteta was lucky enough to win the trophy himself as a player, and to do it again in his first season in charge at the club would be fairytale stuff for Arsenal fans. It may well bide him some time, too, as returning Arsenal to Europe's elite will require more than a quick fix.

Ceballos to return?

As a precocious Real Madrid academy graduate, Dani Ceballos' arrival in North London was met with high expectations that soared even higher after a number of dominant midfield cameos in the opening stages of the season. His last start, though, was a 1-1 draw at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers back in November, with the Spaniard flattering to deceive as his Arsenal career has progressed.

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It's a damning statistic for a player who made the loan move to develop more in-game experience and ensure his footballing progress would not stagnate, and - although he has injury problems and manager alterations to blame - it's not unfair to say that his form has derailed too.

Rumours emerged this week that Ceballos was keen to cut his loan short, though his return to fitness and the arrival of Arteta may well serve as a blank canvas for the 23-year-old, a chance to reinvent himself in the second half of his spell at The Emirates. He returned to the bench against Chelsea, and, if fully fit, will no doubt be eager to return to the starting XI and make his mark on Monday.

What the managers have said

Arteta was unsure when questioned about the prospects of Ceballos returning to the team in his pre-match press conference, citing a lack of time spent on the training ground with him as the overriding hindrance to his return. He told the Arsenal media: "When I joined the club he wasn't here, he was in Madrid because he was doing his rehab for over a month."

"I haven't seen much of him because he only trained with us for a week or ten days, so it's very early to assess what I can and can't do with him."

On the importance of the FA Cup, he added: "We are going to fight for every competition that we are involved in. I know what it means to this club to win the competition. We need to get back to winning, we need to get back to being up there [competing for trophies] where everybody is talking about us."

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His counterpart, Eddie Howe, is wary of Arsenal's intent, and will also be playing his strongest team on Monday. "I don't fear he'll put out a strong team, I know he'll put out a strong team because he's manager of Arsenal and they've got good players," Howe told the Belfast Telegraph.

"It will be a good game, I've got no doubt that they'll play a strong team."

"We'll play our strongest team that I have fit and available to me and it should be a good game."