If any of you were thinking about a nice festive period with absolutely no surprises, then I’m sorry for you guys. Just like me you have been done in by Arsenal Football Club and its promises of being top. No problem though because that Mahrez bloke goes up against Manchester City today and I dare say we shall have our chance again tonight. Easier said than done though, as you will see in due course. On a happier note, we appear to be really on track for Mohammed Elneny, with every new outlet worth its salt calling it a done deal basically. Anyway, Alex has exams and has asked me to do the preview so we shouldn’t chit chat too much. Right, down to business then.
Head to Head
There isn’t much to report on this front because a quick google search tells us that we have only faced Bournemouth once before, on 27th October 1987. That ended very well for us with a 3-0 win in our bag. We will be looking to do something similar this time too. I don’t know if any of you have noticed but that hammering from Southampton has seen our Goal Difference drop down to 13, just one above Leicester who are on 12. I feel GD may play a big part in the season because of how close run an affair it is turning out to be, so we might look at this as an opportunity.
Rotation and Team News
Well, there is absolutely nothing new to report and unless Wenger pulls a signing out of his hat, or his Christmas sticking, we have nothing new to try out on the pitch. Oxlade-Chamberlain is continuously failing to make an impact on games so his substitute appearances do not account for much. The rest of the team apart from our starting XI have nobody of note to put into the front three. We can maybe give Mertesacker a day off after the Southampton debacle, Gabriel should be enough for this match but you never know.
The defence then should be your standard back four with Bellerin, Koscielny and Monreal sure starters and a choice between Mertesacker and Gabriel. I’m quite worried by Bellerin to be honest, he has not been the same he was before.
It is becoming more obvious with every match we play that this midfield pairing is out of its depth. Ramini (Thank you Tim!) does not work on any level. Ramsey’s ability to dovetail with Ozil seems to have been lost in the last match, with inventiveness on the pitch coming only from the opposition. There is something to be said of Flamini, because he is giving his all but as feared by many – his all may not be enough. Ozil should keep his place because the guy can be forgiven one off game, and looks fitter than anybody else bar Giroud. Oxlade-Chamberlain has been touted as an option in midfield which would let Ramsey move into the Ozil role as Alex theorized in the preview for the Southampton game but I do not see Wenger making such a proactive change.
The front three will pose a real puzzle for us but we do not have any players who can fill that gap unfortunately. Giroud has played a lot of games on the trot and his effectiveness is going to start decreasing soon enough. Campbell also has played about 12 games on the run, and he is a player who until recently never got a decent run of games. So one has to wonder how long his body will hold up. Walcott however has been shielded, so to speak, by his injuries and so should be a sure thing. I think the starting front three will remain the same, just because we have nobody else and Chamberlain is not worth starting at the moment.
Arsene has a long tradition of defending his players and he did just that after the game, not singling out any player to call out but rather questioning the winning mentality. We let our concentration levels drop against what was a team shit out of luck and they beat us very easily, so it goes without saying that for this one we need everyone back in the winning fold.
Should Leicester lose to City, we will have the chance to go top of the league again with a 1 point advantage over City so all is not lost yet. The pressure of being top shouldn’t be playing a part here because in my book, that pressure only exists after you have won a game.
Let us do Bournemouth nice and easy lads. For all purposes, consider they’re Real Madrid. Take no prisoners and make no assumptions.