Arsenal host AFC Bournemouth this Sunday, as both sides enter their last Premier League fixture of the month of November. The Gunners occupy a certainly not unfamiliar position of 4th in the table, with the Cherries lying happily in 10th position, one above south coast rivals Southampton, at the time of writing. This encounter will only be the fourth ever between the two sides, and the Dorset team have yet to register a goal against their capital based opponents. Mesut Ozil has scored in every game he’s faced Bournemouth (all two of them), and in the most recent encounter, Bournemouth edged the possession statistics – highlighting Eddie Howe’s desire to prove they are not afraid to play Arsenal at their own game. An away tie at the Emirates is a difficult ask for Bournemouth, but as a side that are looking stronger and stronger, expect them to put in a good performance, and maybe even notch that so far elusive goal against the Gunners, although a win will likely be a bridge too far.
Arsenal are without a win in the league in nearly a month, although it is not as bad as it sounds because there have only been two league fixtures in that time period. Two 1-1 draws in the North London derby and away at Manchester United is not bad going. Unfortunately for Gooners, a 2-2 draw in their most recent fixture, a Champions League tie versus PSG, means that Arsenal will struggle to top Group A. History may well repeat itself, as Arsenal have a tendency to finish second, progress only to be knocked out against a strong side in the last 16. Turning our attention to domestic football and Wenger’s men look in rather decent shape: an EFL Cup quarter final against Southampton follows this match up, and whilst the Gunners are 4th in the Premier League, they are only three points adrift of leaders Chelsea and are unbeaten since the opening day’s 3-4 loss to Liverpool.
Bournemouth are in relatively good shape too. Having won four and drawn three of their opening twelve Premier League games, the Cherries are rewarded with a 10th place position at the time of writing. However, being only five points off of the relegation zone, Eddie Howe will know he is unable to rest on his laurels just yet. A defeat to Sunderland took the edge off of victories against Stoke and Everton and a thumping of Hull City, but this writer would urge Bournemouth fans to relax – they look (in relative terms) a force to be reckoned with, and there are almost certainly three worse teams in the league this season that look destined for relegation.
Predicted line ups
Arsenal predicted starting XI:
AFC Bournemouth predicted starting XI:
Injuries and suspensions
Arsenal have a few long term injury concerns with the likes of Welbeck, Cazorla, Mertesacker, Perez and Bellerin all out. This fixture comes too soon for all of the aforementioned players.
Aside from the longer term injury woes of Lewis Cook and Brad Smith, Bournemouth will also sweat on the fitness of goalkeeper Artur Boruc and Andrew Surman. Good news for Eddie Howe is that Jordan Ibe will likely be fit to return, and Adam Smith returns from suspension.
Jack Wilshere is unavailable for selection against his parent side.
It is very hard to predict anything other than a home victory. Bournemouth are definitely improving, and will look to play Arsenal at their own, possession based, game. However the Gunners will prove too strong for the plucky Cherries, and will run out comfortable winners.
Our prediction: Arsenal 3-1 Bournemouth
Featured image: All rights reserved by Philip Currie