At what is expected to be a jam-packed yet nervous Emirates Stadium, we may well witness a shock when Arsene Wenger’s much-lambasted Arsenal host Eddie Howe’s struggling Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon in London.
The Cherries happen to be one of the three sides in the division not to have won a single Premier League game so far, losing all three. The recent defeat to Manchester City wasn’t something they deserved, but it is just one of those things that happens throughout the course of the season.
Arsenal, on the other hand, will be back following a painful 4-0 drubbing at the hands of rivals Liverpool and will look to get a smile back on the faces of the Gooners by picking up their first win in three games.
The last meeting between the two sides served up one of the best matches of the previous season, as Arsenal came back from 3-0 down to draw the game 3-3 against ten men Bournemouth.
Gunners look to put criticism aside
The start to the new season hasn’t been a favorable one for Wenger’s men and two consecutive losses to Stoke City and Liverpool have already brought in a cloud of pessimism around a club that will expect to see itself inside the top four, if not challenge for the title. The results have left the club from North London at 16th in the Premier League table.
The deadline day seems to have hit the club hard, especially due to the loss of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the situation of Alexis Sanchez at the Emirates. While the Chilean was expected to leave the club, Arsene Wenger’s position is being questioned once again due to the Frenchman’s bad team selection and lack of characters in the side.
The club has already let in as many as eight goals this season, the second most behind rock bottom West Ham. The three at the back shape that Wenger brought into place during the fag end of last season seems to be a mismatch and a change of tactics could be on the cards already.
We may well see Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac start again, after being left out on the bench against Liverpool.
Cherries aim for an upset
Bournemouth have not won a single game at the Emirates over the past two seasons, but they will be aiming to change history when they head to North London. They will certainly take confidence from their performance against Manchester City, apart from doing the same from the 3-3 draw against the Gunners last season at the Vitality Stadium.
The late winner that they conceded against Pep Guardiola’s men did hand them a crushing blow, but the spirited performance was a reflection of how good the side can be when on song. The losses to West Bromwich Albion and Watford were disappointing, but the game at the Emirates will offer Howe’s men the opportunity to make a fresh start this season.
The club has scored just one goal in three outings, the second lowest in the division along with the likes of Brighton and Frank de Boer’s Crystal Palace. They have let in five goals, but it will be a battle of Arsenal’s dangerous looking attack against Bournemouth’s defense.
Sanchez a doubt for Arsenal
Alexis Sanchez wore an ice pack during training with Chile this past week, prompting doubts about whether the Chilean will be fit to face the Cherries on Saturday. The big positive news for the Gunners though is that Santi Cazorla is coming back to full fitness and while he won’t play on Saturday, he is expected to be back by Christmas.
Callum Chambers will face a late fitness test to determine whether he will play or not.
As far the Cherries go, Nathan Ake is suffering from a minor ankle injury and would need a late fitness test to know whether he’s good enough to play or not, much like Junior Stanislas. The big positive for Howe is the fact that Simon Francis is back in contention for selection and the former Burnley boss confirmed it during his press conference on Friday. Callum Wilson remains out and will return next month.
Arsenal: Cech; Holding, Koscielny, Mustafi; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac, Ozil, Lacazette, Welbeck
Bournemouth: Begovic, Smith, Cook, Ake, Daniels; Fraser, Arter, Surman, Pugh; King, Defoe