On paper Arsenal should breeze past Bournemouth but that might not necessarily be the case due to the gunners current indifferent league form.
It will be interesting to see the formation at the Emirates and that might give some clue as to what are likely to get. Having said that, it’s highly unlikely Emery will go with another defensive trio in midfield as he did against Manchester United. Not because of the stinging criticism but because it didn’t work and hopefully Emery will consign that idea to the waste bin.
That set up would only encourage Bournemouth, who will give Arsenal as good as they get for 45 minutes. We are yet to see a consistent performance from the North London side, which has only spluttered and flattered to deceive thus far
I know that Tierney and Bellerin were in action in the Europa league but they need to feature, if only for the one half. How long can Emery afford to persevere with alternative options ?
Let’s get back on the subject of Granit Xhaka, Arsenal seem to perform much better when he isn’t in the side, especially in a creative and attacking sense. It would appear that Xhaka is a fun sponge and that he slows the pace of Arsenal’s natural game with predictable results. He’ll play of course, he’s the captain because Emery appears blind to the negative aspects of the player.
Cabellos must start, if Arsenal are to get a decent result. His class is there for everyone to see and he needs to be played consistently to get the best out of him. Here’s a radical departure, why not play Lucas Torreira just in front of the back four in a solo role just to see what he can achieve without the distraction of Captain Vanilla (Xhaka)
With two good performances under his belt, I would definitely put Martinelli on the left flank and as Emery said, it’s his preferred position, so let him do what comes naturally.
Guendouzi should also get the nod perhaps in the middle with Cabellos and Saka on the right. That’s an exciting line up and one that looks full of pace and fizz.
Don’t underestimate Bournemouth, they can bring their ‘A’ game and have plenty of pace and skill. The threats are from all the usual suspects, if available. Including Solanke, King, Fraser and Wilson who can pile the pressure on a brittle and unsettled defence and Sokratis and Luiz could be in for a rough afternoon if selected.
Bournemouth will be stubbornly resistant and Arsenal need to really turn the screws to loosen their ambition and desire. It’s another potential banana skin with the gunners in the middle of an identity crisis. Forget this habit of playing well for either the first or second halves, Arsenal will have to be on their toes or face another scrap for a point or worse.
Eddie Howe was once mentioned as a potential candidate for the Arsenal managers job and although he suffered a tough campaign last season, his philosophy is very much about attacking and exciting football.
This Bournemouth side will be well versed in Arsenal’s weaknesses and that may well be down the flanks if Emery swaps Bellerin and Tierney for Chambers and Kolasinac. Chambers is better in a holding role or as a central defender and is there for the taking as a right back.
Kolasinac will also struggle against pace when going in reverse and he is clearly better going forward than he is defensively. Arsenal should win but it could be tight, with a nail biting last 15 minutes, yet it depends on what Arsenal turns up.
The flowing Arsenal should dispense with Bournemouth reasonably easily but if it’s the confused, disjointed and unimaginative version, they will struggle, especially if Bournemouth get the upper hand.
Preferred team :-
Leno, Bellerin, Chambers, Holding, Tierney, Torreira, Saka, Cabellos, Guendouzi, Martinelli, Aubameyang,
Leno; Chambers, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac; Willock, Xhaka, Guendouzi; Pepe, Aubameyang, Saka.
Predicted score :- 2-1 Arsenal win.