Bournemouth preview: time for Gunners to add some Granit if they want to crush the Cherries

Howdy.

We host Bournemouth in a fixture which signals a schedule ease-up. I am less than pleased about drawing three consecutive games, while also playing as poorly as we did, but it can’t be denied we faced tough opponents.

Bournemouth is a step down from the quality of the sides we drew against. That’s not to say they can’t beat us and that we can drop our concentration levels, however the Cherries are a team we are expected to beat. We are favourites going into the game, which might not have been the case in our 3 previous games.

For us to win the game though, we’ll have to find some fluency and rhythm. Wenger too admits this:

“I believe we have to find our game back. We didn’t lose but if you do not create, that will not last.

“It’s important that we find our simplicity, speed and pacy combinations back. We missed that fluency, and that security in our decision-making that made us dangerous in the final third a little bit. That is what is at stake for us.”

Whether we find our groove will depend on what players start the game, so let’s shoot to the team news.

Not nearly good enough in the final 1/3 lately

Team news update

“I don’t think from the other night we have any injuries, so everybody should be available. In cases like Cazorla and Bellerin, they are still out. We have nobody coming back.”Arsene Wenger

There are noises Bellerin might be back sooner than expected and that will be a welcome boost indeed. Rumour has it the Spaniard might rejoin training end of the week. Fingers crossed.

Perez, meanwhile, had already resumed full training, after just 4 weeks on the sidelines. Arsene will likely exercise caution here:

“Lucas is for the first time in training today [Friday]. He might be in contention for Wednesday [against Southampton], but one training session is not enough to be involved on Sunday.”

Lucas back in full training

Lucas had a second session on Saturday, I wonder whether that’ll make Arsene more inclined to include the Spaniard in match day squad against Bournemouth, but there’s no pressing need to rush Lucas back. We have options on the wings and up front (mercifully Alexis shrugged off his hamstring injury), so I have nothing against easing Lucas back gradually.

Squad

Pretty sure we’ll see the same back 5 as against United. Meaning Cech and Monreal back for Ospina and Gibbs. Debuchy isn’t ready by the looks of it, so Jenko will continue to deputise at right-back.

What Arsene does in midfield will play a greater role in the result, however. If he doesn’t start Xhaka again, I will be highly concerned. We need a distributor in central midfield, and none of Coquelin, Elneny or Ramsey fit the mould. Without Cazorla, Xhaka should be a nailed-on starter, yet Wenger sounded reserved once again:

“[Granit] needs to adapt, then we need to find the balance because he plays in a deeper-lying midfield position, and he passes through the lines,” said Arsène Wenger. “He needs to adapt to the way we play and the tactical pace of the English game. I am confident he will do very well.”

Why is Xhaka not starting games?

I don’t what’s going on with Xhaka, but if Arsene looked at how we played vs United and PSG and thought it was alright, then he clearly missed a couple of things. We need Xhaka in that midfield, or it will continue to look bleak and incompetent at moving the ball forward.

The question of who plays up front is an interesting one. Giroud scored 2 in 2, however with Alexis up front we produced our best football this season. If Arsene finally fine-tunes the supporting cast, starting Alexis over Giroud will be the rational thing to do in most games.

Predicted line-up: Cech – Jenko – Mustafi – Kos – Monreal – Coquelin – Xhaka – Walcott – Ozil – Iwobi – Alexis

The verdict

At this point a win is absolutely vital. Dropping points against Spurs and United is not ideal, but can be justified to an extent, as other top dogs will drop points there too. Missing out on a win against Bournemouth at home will be very, very far from justifiable.

For us to get a win I’m sure we’ll have to find our rhythm back. We rarely win games we don’t deserve to win, so the quality of the performance will be crucial come Sunday. Maybe it’s even more important for us than for others. Especially on the back of 3 weak showings.

So come on you Gunners. Enough with the November blues.

Back with you for a review of the game.

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2 Responses to Bournemouth preview: time for Gunners to add some Granit if they want to crush the Cherries

  1. Victor Thompson November 27, 2016 at 11:45 am #

    Hi Alex,

    This is more or less a continuation of your previous article. I agree with both of them and I find it remarkable to see how your view of Wenger has changed since I began blogging for Gunners Town. I am pleased that a number of creditable contributors are now discussing what appear to be common faults.

    I also note that there are fewer comments attached to the articles and I wonder if it is because the pro-Wenger supporters are finding it difficult to defend him? I agree with your comments on our mid-field pairings and whilst at the start, I was glad for Jack`s sake that he went on loan to Bournemouth, unfortunately with Cazorla missing, we have been unable to field a balanced mid-field. The only one that I can see is Coquelin and Xhaka, as you have said, but one thing that concerns me about Xhaka is his talent for picking up silly yellow cards. He had a reputation before we signed him of collecting them but I thought he would have been warned not to do it here.

    Coquelin is our most consistent enforcer, but even with Xhaka, I am not sure that we shall actually field a convincing link between defence and attack. Our tactics are wrong. There is consistently too big a gap between Kos and Mustafi and Jenkinson is out of position constantly while Monreal takes up a position too close to the corner of the penalty box.

    All of the above guarantees spaces for teams to exploit and it is no coincidence that in all of our recent games our opponents have broken down both wings. Neither Jenkinson or Monreal can deal with runners coming at them and Coquelin and Ramsey or Elneny have to run out of position to support them. The two ranks of four which most teams now use are pulled out of shape and there is no visible point of recovery to move from defence to attack. We are too involved with getting back possession and just scrambling the ball away instead of directing it with genuine purpose and speed. Mustafi and Kos are usually in isolation when they are forced into last ditch tackles. They do not play as support to each other when really, Bould who, in his day, played with Adams and Keown, would have played like that as second nature.

    I understand that he is the defensive coach so I cant understand why we cannot produce a solid and purposeful back 4. Overall we have no shape to the team. Players are simply acting individually to make things happen which means that the game is slowed up because nobody has a plan of action drilled into him and therefore there is no running off the ball. Nobody is making himself available to take a pass and the player with the ball has no options available so the ball is passed backwards or sideways.

    Wenger seems to lack the tactical ability to change things when they are going wrong or to have the charisma to put some fear into the players and make them play properly. When even someone like Graham Perry is questioning some of his actions, I think we are on the right track.

  2. DEW November 27, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

    Hi

    It could be good if Alex starts from a bench today. It looks he needs what Wenger called it breather.

    On today’s match I oppose the arm band of the captains. Football is international sport so it has to be clean from racism, politics, sexism, sexual orientation etc. FIFA Respect has it all. But once you start to favor one group over another on football pitch it is not going to be OK. To be honest I feel disturbed on what is being done officially in this regard.

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