Arsenal v Bournemouth Match Preview: Can the Gunners end 2015 with a win over the Cherries
Arsenal will look to bounce back from their Boxing Day thumping against Southampton, when they take on Bournemouth at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon.
The 4-0 defeat to the Saints meant that the Gunners blew the chance to go into today’s match at the top of the Premier League table.
With leaders Leicester City not playing Manchester City until tomorrow night, Arsenal quickly get another chance to head the table. At least for 24 hours.
The performance at Southampton once again raised questions about the depth of the squad, and whether the players have the mental strength to compete for the title.
The hectic festive period of fixtures is always a test for every team, and a challenge for managers in deciding when to rest players and rotate within their squads.
Arsenal’s squad is stretched to breaking point with injuries and Arsene Wenger’s options are severely limited in being able to bring players in.
He is though likely to make changes to the starting line-up today.
The Gunners are set to boost their squad with the signing of Basel’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Elneny.
It is being reported that he has agreed personal terms and will undergo a medical shortly.
The fee is believed to be in the region of £5m.
The boost of an imminent signing is balanced out with the news that Jack Wilshere is unlikely to return from injury until at least February.
This will be only the second-ever competitive meeting between Arsenal and Bournemouth.
The only previous meeting between these two sides was a League Cup third round tie in 1987/88, which the Gunners won 3-0 with goals from Alan Smith, Kevin Richardson and Michael Thomas.
Arsenal are unbeaten n their last 21 Premier League meetings with newly promoted opposition (W17 D4).
Arsenal have won 16 points from a possible 18 in their last six Premier League home games (W5 D1 L0).
Bournemouth are currently fourteenth in the Premier League table. Three points above the relegation places.
The Cherries 0-0 draw at home to Crystal Palace on Boxing Day extended their unbeaten run to six matches. A run that includes wins over Chelsea and Manchester United.
Speaking after the defeat to Southampton, Wenger said.
“I believe what I say to my players is between my players and myself,” he said after the 4-0 hammering at St Mary’s.
“These players have fantastic spirit and they can show that in 48 hours.
“We are in a job where we have to respond. We want to respond from disappointments.
“Unfortunately, there’s no possible career without disappointment. Nobody, not even the best players in the world, can have that.
“It’s down to how you respond and I trust my players to respond in a very strong way on Monday.”
Speaking after the draw with Crystal Palace, Howe said.
“It reinforces that confidence is improving and belief is growing within the camp.
“We are pleased with today, but we would love to have won. I think we created the best chances in the game, unfortunately, for us, did not take them.
“Now we move into a really tough period where we know we need to be even better.”
Arsene Wenger could make after the heavy defeat to Southampton.
Gabriel could replace Per Mertesacker at centre back after the German’s poor performance against Southampton.
Whilst Calum Chambers may get an opportunity in midfield in place of Mathieu Flamini, who went into the match with the Saints not a 100% fit.
Provisional squad: Cech, Ospina, Bellerin, Chambers, Debuchy, Koscielny, Gabriel, Mertesacker, Ramsey, Flamini, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Reine-Adelaide, Iwobi, Campbell, Walcott, Giroud.
Eddie Howe will make a late decision Harry Arter, who was brought off at half-time in draw with Crystal Palace after he picked up an early yellow card.
Lee Tomlin could return from a groin/pelvic injury but Josh King (hamstring) will not be fit to return before the New Year.
Provisional Squad: Boruc, Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels, Surman, Ritchie, Gosling, Arter, Murray, Pugh, Rantie, MacDonald, Kermorgant, Federici, Distin, O’Kane, Tomlin.
The Gunners will be looking for a much improved defensive performance. Gabriel may get another chance to play after a less than convincing last outing against Norwich City.
Olivier Giroud has scored 12 goals in his last 14 games for the Gunners.
Bournemouth will look to turn in another solid defensive performance.
Their defensive unit is built around the core of players who won the promotion from the Championship last season and promotion from League one.
Simon Francis and Steve Cook have impressed at centre back this season, whist Keeper Artur Boruc has previous Premier League experience with Southampton.
Key Statistics – supplied by Opta
Bournemouth will become Arsenal’s 80th different opponent in league football in this match.
Arsenal have not lost their final Premier League game in a calendar year since 2006; when they lost 0-1 away at Sheffield United.
Arsenal have scored in each of their last 29 Premier League games against newly promoted opposition.
Arsenal’s last Premier League defeat against a newly promoted side was in March 2012 in a 1-2 away loss to Queens Park Rangers.
The Cherries have won on five of their last six league trips to London (L1), including a win at reigning Premier League champions Chelsea earlier this month.
Bournemouth are now unbeaten in six Premier League matches (W3 D3).
Referee: Roger East Assistants: L Betts, D Cann Fourth Official: D Deadman
Arsenal to get back to winning ways with a 3-1 win.