Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth: Premier League Match Preview
Arsenal take on AFC Bournemouth in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon (2.15 pm kick-off UK time).
The Gunners are unbeaten in 18 matches in all competitions since losing at home to Liverpool on the opening weekend of the Premier League season.
But three draws in their last four Premier League fixtures has seen Arsenal drop to 4th place in the Premier League table.
The results yesterday make a win for the Gunners today essential to ensure they keep pace with the top three.
Leaders Chelsea moved five points ahead of Arsenal, with their 2-1 home win at Stamford Bridge over 5th placed Tottenham Hotspur.
Second placed Liverpool are a point behind Chelsea after a 2-0 home win at Anfield over Sunderland.
Whilst third placed Manchester City are level on points with Liverpool after a 2-1 away win at Turf Moor against Burnley.
Bournemouth arrive buoyed by their first away win, and clean sheet on the road, over Stoke City last weekend.
The Cherries, who start the day in 10th place in the Premier League table, have only once won back-to-back away games in the top flight – against Chelsea and West Brom in December 2015.
Arsenal have won all three of their previous meetings with Bournemouth in all competitions, scoring seven and conceding none.
The Gunners won both Premier League meetings last season 2-0, with Mesut Ozil scoring in each game.
Mesut Ozil has had a hand in three of Arsenal’s four Premier League goals against the Cherries, scoring two and assisting one.
In his last eight Premier League appearances, Olivier Giroud has attempted eight shots on target and scored with seven of these.
In Jack Wilshere’s absence, the Cherries will look to the combative Harry Arter to disrupt Arsenal’s midfield rhythm.
Up front the main goal threat comes from Callum Wilson and Junior Stanislas, who have both scored three goals so far in the Premier League this season.
When Arsene Wenger took charge of Arsenal in October 1996, Eddie Howe was a 19-year-old AFC Bournemouth player and had made just five league appearances.
The pair are now the Premier League’s longest-serving current managers at their clubs: with 20 years and four years service respectively.
“I believe we have to find our game back, Wenger said at his pre-match press conference. We didn’t lose but if you do not create, that will not last.
“It’s important that we find our simplicity, speed and pacy combinations back.
“We missed that fluency, and that security in our decision-making that made us dangerous in the final third a little bit. That is what is at stake for us.”
“There’s a lot to admire about Arsenal,” Howe said at his pre-match press conference. “They always stick to their philosophies and are very loyal to their style of play. They have certainly had a big influence on the way I try to manage here and there are a few similarities in the way both sides play.
We know we’ll need a little bit of luck and for our players to be at their maximum, but we believe we can get a result. Jack Wilshere will be a big miss for us. He’s been excellent, both with and without the ball.”
Arsenal have no new injuries following their Champions League match with Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.
Hector Bellerin (ankle) and Santi Cazorla (Achilles) are still on the sidelines.
Petr Cech will return in-goal in place of David Ospina.
Jack Wilshere is ineligible to play against his parent club.
Keeper Artur Boruc and midfielder Andrew Surman are injury doubts.
Adam Smith returns from a one-match suspension.
Jordan Ibe returns to the squad after illness.
Arsenal to win 2-0 – to repeat the scoreline in both of the matches between the sides last season.