AFC Bournemouth vs Arsenal: Match preview | Premier League 2018-19
Lately, Unai Emery’s juggernaut may seem to have slowed down a bit, with drawing three games one after the other in all competitions, but not many Arsenal fans would read too much into it as some of the football played so far under the new gaffer has simply been sublime.
The Leicester and Fulham games come to mind straight away, and if we didn’t know any better, many would say that Arsenal were the victorious side at Stamford Bridge early on in the season.
The mood among some sections of Arsenal supporters after the Liverpool game was quite the indicator as to how this team has come along in such a short space of time. A celebratory draw against Liverpool under the previous management seems to be the bare minimum expectations under the new.
Bournemouth away would be a sterner test, as Liverpool was a home game, and Emery would be well aware of that.
As good as they are in an attacking sense, The Cherries' defence looks breach-able every time a cross comes in from wide. They have let in four goals in their last two Premier League games, and all four via wide players whipping crosses in.
Emery has been loyal to his all-working 4-2-3-1 formation, but it wouldn’t hurt if he changed it to 3-5-2 just for this game. It may serve the team well against the tricky forward players of Bournemouth as the three center-backs and Lucas Torreira as DM will give the ever needed defensive stability, and the wingers can bomb forward to lay a few crosses in.
It would be interesting to see how Unai Emery lines this game up, especially in defence, now that Laurent Koscielny is back fit after rupturing his right Achilles. The club skipper has been slowly re-integrated back into training during November.
Rob Holding has been calm and steady, and has already produced some good performances. On the other hand, Mustafi once again is gunning for the award for the most mistake-prone defender of the season, and he may just win it.
The German is quick, has good distribution, especially the long diagonal balls out to the wingers, but has a knack of doing unwanted things which can literally be bracketed as ‘crazy and stupid’, in the wrong areas of the pitch.
Does Emery start the Frenchman in Mustafi's stead? That is something only time will tell, but there’s no doubt that the central-pairing at the back must consist of Koscielny and Sokratis Papastathopoulos when both are up and fully running.
The front pair in the striking department was under threat too as Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both called-in unfit for the Nations League. But the delightful news for Arsenal fans is that they both are back in training, and can be used as the manager sees fit.
Emery must have breathed a sigh of relief after the game against the free flowing, yet chances fluffing, Wolves. A point however undeserving as it was, was still a point, and kept the unbeaten streak undamaged. But the Arsenal boss will know that his players will have to play much better if they want to win this game and stay in touch with the ‘top 4’ pack.
The Gunners have only ever lost to the hosts once, but have failed to register a win in their last two trips to the Vitality Stadium. Emery’s defenders already have their work cut out with The Cherries' forward and top goal-scorer, Callum Wilson, bound to breathe down their necks throughout the game.
Both teams have earned plaudits for the way they express themselves on the pitch this season, and criticism for their defensive frailties, which can only mean one thing - a delicious game and goals!