Arsenal need to take advantage of the fact that they have a relatively easy schedule before the Chelsea clash at the beginning of February. They have to make the most out of this period and build momentum that can be used against a very strong Blues’ side which hopefully will slip up against Spurs, Leicester or Liverpool. Right now, Klopp’s team looks like the most likely to help Arsenal in the title race as Spurs and Leicester failed to win against Conte’s side in 2016.
Getting back to the game at hand, the Gunners head to the Vitality Stadium as favourites. They have won all 4 previous encounters with Bournemouth in all competitions scoring 10 goals and conceding just one and should have decent morale after their win against Crystal Palace. Arsenal have lost their previous 2 away games in the Premier League but have not lost 3 in a row on their travels since October 2011 so on paper they should be the winners. Alexis Sanchez has been off the scoresheet lately but has still been playing well on his travels as he has scored 9 goals and assisted on 3 more in 9 Premier League away appearances this season and Arsene Wenger will be hoping his superb Chilean can add to his goal tally against Eddie Howe’s side.
Hopefully the fact that Wenger will not be able to use any of the players below will not be too much of an issue:
Mesut Ozil – ill
Mohamed Elneny – (African Cup of Nations)
Theo Walcott – calf injury
Kieran Gibbs – knee injury
Mathieu Debuchy – hamstring injury
These are somewhat recent issues which will prevent Wenger from having a complete lot. Welbeck will probably be seen in the squad sometime in February while returns for Cazorla and Mertesacker are uncertain. Fortunately, the current layout doesn’t look half bad with in-form Giroud up front, a very determined Sanchez on the left and a highly creative Iwobi in Ozil’s place. Lucas Perez will probably be added to the bench allowing Oxlade-Chamberlain take his place on the right while Ramsey will start next to Xhaka down the middle. Coquelin might also be starting if the Welsh midfielder is used in a more advanced role.
Bournemouth will have to do without Jack Wilshere and Marc Pugh as Wilshere is ineligible for the Arsenal clash and the other is affected by injury. Afobe will be available though and will probably be the biggest threat for Wenger’s side for which he played as a junior.
We predict a 3-0 win for Arsenal who have the better squad and look to be getting back to their earlier season performance level. Even Bournemouth’s manager admitted that his team is not at its best right now as reported by the BBC:
“We’re still in that moment as a team where we haven’t consolidated any consistent run. That’s what we’re looking to do.
“The players have the ability to respond to disappointments and the ability to produce, individually, some very good performances.
“So it’s a case of trying to do it on a more consistent basis will be the key for us.”
All signs point to a win for Arsenal which hopefully, combined with a good performance by Tottenham against Chelsea, will allow the Gunners to close the gap in the title race before facing Conte’s side.