Our football scribe previews the EPL clash between Arsenal and Bournemouth.
The Gunners put themselves in prime position to qualify top of their Champions League group, going toe to toe with a high-quality PSG side on Wednesday night. They will be looking to improve upon what was a rank display at Old Trafford last week.
Their opponents broke a barren November run last weekend at Stoke, concurrently winning their first away encounter in eight Premier League games. Bournemouth’s open, counter-attacking style is the polar opposite of Arsenal’s determined possession football, setting up what could be a fascinating clash of styles at the Emirates.
English Premier League | Sunday 27 November | Emirates Stadium | 16:15
To Win (90 mins)
Arsenal 4/10 | Draw 38/10 | Bournemouth 6/1
Alexis Sanchez seems to have weathered all the hoopla surrounding his fitness and will be looking to impress this weekend. Arsenal pulled the double over Bournemouth last season, winning both encounters with a 2-0 scoreline.
Mezut Ozil scored in both matches, exemplifying the tonal difference between the sides. The German playmaker, with his ability to cleverly drop into vacated space, is the archetypal Arsenal player who is born to exploit Bournemouth’s more robust approach.
Arsenal should be more relaxed knowing that they have put themselves in the European pound seats. I expect Wenger to go with an attacking formation that will look to put on an exhibition.
Francis Coquelin and Granit Xhaka will need to marshal the speed of Junior Stanislas and Jordan Ibe on the counter, especially as Nacho Monreal and Carl Jenkinson look to get forward. I expect Ozil to once again reign supreme as his vision and guile gives his team the upper hand on a Bournemouth side vulnerable on the road.
Adam Smith has served his suspension and will return to the starting line-up this week. This will rather unfortunately see Nathan Ake return to the bench. The on-loan Chelsea player will likely feel slightly aggrieved after scoring the winner at Stoke.
But the combination of Steve Cook and Simon Francis is a solid one that Eddie Howe has shown considerable faith in. And consistency will be key in trying to curtail a free-flowing Arsenal side. Brad Smith and Lewis Cook also remain injury doubts.
I expect Harry Arter to struggle with minor possession, being easily dispossessed by Arsenal’s dogged central midfielders. Ibe and Stanislas provide a more potent threat, especially with Hector Bellerin still injured.
Verdict: Arsenal Win (4/10)
This looks like a no-brainer to me. Perhaps a more interesting bet would be in backing Ozil to score in his third consecutive tie against Bournemouth. He hasn’t been in pristine goal-scoring form, but the German’s talismanic style is perfectly suited to taking down this Bournemouth side.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets