Can the Gunners re-ignite their title challenge
Can the Gunners re-ignite their title challenge

Bournemouth will be looking for a first ever win over Arsenal to further dent the Gunners faltering Premier League title challenge.

Leicester City moved eight points ahead of Arsenal with their 3-1 win over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium yesterday.

Tottenham Hotspur moved into second place in the table following their 1-0 win over Watford at White Lane yesterday. Spurs are five points behind the Foxes, and three ahead of the Gunners.

The defeat for Manchester City drops them to third in the table, two points ahead of fourth placed Arsenal..

Arsenal beat Bournemouth 2-0 on the 28th December in the first league meeting between the clubs, with goals from Mesut Ozil and Gabriel.

The Gunners though have now gone four Premier League matches without a win (1L, 3D).

Arsenal haven’t gone five Premier League games without a win since August 2011.

The Gunners are also struggling on their travels. They have won just one of their last six Premier League away games (W1 D3 L2).

Arsenal have dropped seven points from winning positions away from home, more than any other team on the road.

The Managers

Eddie Howe

“Every weekend is pivotal,” Howe said. “Sunday represents a really good game for our football club, we’re competitive and try to win.

“We’re conscious of people setting 40 points but we haven’t set any targets. We’re working towards goals, but it’s very dangerous to set 40 points as it could be more this year.”

Arsene Wenger

“He was very young, Wenger said of former Arsenal striker Benik Afobe.

“He had big competition in front of him with Robin van Persie and players like that, so I gave him authorisation to go somewhere and play, which he did.

You educate people to influence their lives and give them success. When they do not manage to play for us, if they do it somewhere else we are of course very happy for them.

Benik has done extremely well, even beyond the expectations of many people and that’s great, that’s down to him and congratulations to him.

I think the best way to stop [him] being dangerous is for us to have the ball and dominate the game and being aware that Benik is quick, strong and has good movement in the box.

We are used to facing these kind of strikers in the Premier League because in every single club there are top-quality strikers.

That’s the same with Bournemouth. I’ve always said that they will avoid relegation since the start of the season when I saw them play. They have enough substance in their game to stay up.”

Key Men

Benik Afobe has scored in each of his last three Premier League appearances for Bournemouth.

Arsenal have failed to score in their last three Premier League matches.  They will be looking for top score Olivier Giroud (12 Premier League goals) to get back on the score sheet.

Team News

Bournemouth

A late call will be made on Junior Stanislas’ inclusion after suffering a knee injury two weeks ago.

Josh King could be in line to start as he continues his return to full fitness following a hamstring problem.

Max Gradel and Callum Wilson remain long-term absentees.

Provisional squad: Boruc, Francis, Cook, Smith, Daniels, Pugh, Gosling, Surman, Arter, Afobe, Federici, O’Kane, Distin, Iturbe, Ritchie, Murray, Grabban, King, Elphick.

Arsenal

Arsenal have no fresh injury concerns.  Tomas Rosicky could be out for up to three months, with the thigh injury he picked up against Burnley in the FA Cup.

Per Mertesacker could be recalled after being on the bench for Tuesday’s goalless draw with Southampton.

Provisional squad: Cech, Ospina, Monreal, Gibbs, Koscielny, Gabriel, Mertesacker, Bellerin, Debuchy, Chambers, Ramsey, Elneny, Coquelin, Flamini, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Reine-Adelaide, Iwobi, Sanchez, Campbell, Walcott, Giroud.

Match Officials
Referee:
Kevin Friend Assistants: D Bryan, P Kirkup Fourth Official: N Swarbrick

Key match stats (supplied by Opta)

Bournemouth have dropped more points from winning positions than any other team in the top flight (14).

Eddie Howe’s side have scored a league-high tally (8) and proportion (28 per cent) of their goals in the opening 15 minutes of games this season.

Callum Wilson is still Bournemouth’s top scorer in the Premier League this season (5), yet hasn’t played since the end of September.

Mesut Ozil is awaiting his first Premier League assist of 2016 despite creating 18 chances for his teammates. Only Spurs’ Christian Eriksen has created more in 2016 than the German (22).

Prediction

Arsenal to get back to winning ways with a 3-1 win.