AFC BOURNEMOUTH VS. ARSENAL PREVIEW
We’re heading to the South Coast, and take on Bournemouth. who under Eddie Howe have performed very well this season.
They currently are in sixth place – one behind us incidentally – and have continued much of what Howe has been noted for. Quick passing, good technical skills, and strong discipline. It’s why in some quarters that Howe was seen as a successor to Wenger. In some ways, he is reminiscent of Wenger, and surely could be boss at a bigger club soon.
Our record at Bournemouth is pretty mixed. We won there in 15/16, drew very notably in 16/17, and lost there in Wenger’s final season. The latter two games were in part down to attitude and defensive weaknesses, and if we’re to win, we have to correct them if we’re to get the result.
These could be key factors in us getting the win:
- Midfield battle
Torreira has certainly added some bite and steel to our midfield, and has allowed the likes of Xhaka to express his game more. As Bournemouth’s style is very similar to our own, then our superior players in that area can out-perform them. It may be prone to play Guendouzi here, as whilst he doesn’t have the physical capacities of Torreira, he can bring the ball forward better, and thus help us control this area better.
- Auba and Laca
Bournemouth’s defence is not very strong, and surely our top two can exploit this. Auba’s pace has to be utilised well, and whether their defenders could handle this is very moot. Moreover, Laca’s capability to hold the ball up is something to bring in our wide players and Ozil.
Even if both don’t start, they must play together in some fashion, as it’s key to exploit a weakness they have here.
Sokratis has impressed a lot since he joined, and is far from the slow centre-back he was billed as. With important games coming up vs. Spurs and Man United, it may be good to get this partnership going again. The coming Europa League can feature Mustafi, but at this point, I’d favour Holding/Sokratis.
Their forwards are pretty pacey and tricky, and Holding/Sokratis would be primed in matching their pace, physicality, and pressure.
- Mkhi or Iwobi?
My views on Mkhitaryan are mixed. I feel he is a very good player on a technical level. But bar the equaliser vs. Wolves, he hasn’t added much in terms of goals or assists, which is what his primary function is in the team. Even some Man U fans in his time there were saying the same thing. However, it’s possible he may feature here, and with our key games upcoming, it may be a time to redeem himself amongst the fans. I’m not saying to sell him at this point, but if he doesn’t improve, then it may be a strong option to take.
I’d favour Iwobi here, and for the Spurs/United games also. But if Mkhi does start, we need more from him in attacking terms. Iwobi really has taken up the mantle, and is providing the end-product that his role in the side warrants.
- Howe game plan
Emery must anticipate how Howe will play. There still is a perception that we’re weak physically and mentally, and this is what Everton, West Ham, Leicester, Watford, and Palace, have all looked to exploit. They’ve all had game plans against us, which didn’t work. Part of this was due to luck, admittedly. But others due to our capability to outdo them tactically and in terms of finishing. And just in having better players overall. The most recent example of this was Wolves. We were lucky to get a point, possibly. But then Emery did respond tactically and we were clinical when it mattered – via Mkhi’s late cross-cum-shot of course.
Whether Bournemouth will be physical or not is moot, but Howe will get them to exploit key weakness areas, and hold some kind of structure. If we can ride this out, or better still anticipate it, then our better players can take over and win this game for us.
We saw vs. Man U that they took the game to them, and I believe they will do something similar. If we ride the wave, we can get safely to shore and secure a win. This isn’t to underestimate them – they’ve done well to get 6th. But our players are better, and whilst this will NOT be easy, we have to prove we’re a new Arsenal, and that we can out-tactic as much as out-play other sides.
AFC Bournemouth 1-2 Arsenal
I feel we may concede, but then we should hold enough attacking quality to secure the win.
And a quick Christmas Gooner idea
MarbleHallsTV is an Arsenal social media account on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Been a Gooner since the 90s, inspired by Ian Wright, then Bergkamp, Vieira, Henry, Pires, Campbell, Rosicky, Koscielny, Ozil and Sanchez. A digital marketer/entrpreneur by profession, born in UK living in the Americas now.