It’s been a complicated season for both Bournemouth and Arsenal, who are not usually struggling in their respective league positions at this time.
The South Coast team have certainly found life tougher in the premier league over the last few seasons but under Eddie Howe, they always had the right mentality and philosophy to remain in the division.
They could certainly do with one or two additions, which are more likely to happen in the summer if they can survive in the top flight for another term.
The FA cup is something of an unwelcome distraction but Howe will want his side to get some form of result from the contest to maintain a winning mentality after a surprising win over Brighton.
The fixtures ahead are looking difficult to say the least, with Aston Villa looking to be the easiest of the upcoming matches which include Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Spurs.
Looking at the games doesn’t exactly inspire confidence and the odd point here and there isn’t going to keep them safe.
A reasonably lengthy cup run would only make matters worse by acting as a distraction and Howe will want to focus on maintaining his premiership status.
On the other hand Arsenal will be in a rather buoyant mood, having produced a gutsy performance against Chelsea in the premier league.
One which saw them come from behind twice with 10 men after David Luiz was sent off in the 26th minute.
It could be a defining moment in their season that has established their character under Arteta, with many claiming it was their best performance to date.
No Aubameyang or Luiz for this one, so Arteta is likely to shuffle the pack but there are a few tough calls to make. In defence, does he introduce the desperately rusty Rob Holding or bring back Sokratis to partner Mustafi ?
Apart from Mustafi’s glaring mistake, he finished strongly and hardly put a foot wrong. He even released Martinelli with a pass that saw the exhilarating young Brazilian run 64 yards for his superbly executed goal.
Is Kolasinac due for a recall on the left with Maitland Niles taking Bellerin’s right sided berth ?
I wouldn’t rule it out at all but don’t expect Ceballos to return, he might be passing time in the bench with Ozil clearly Arteta’s preferred option in the middle.
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Pepe could also be rested after his recent efforts which has seen a marked improvement and upturn in fortunes.
His place could go to Reiss Nelson, who looked good on his last outing and is looking to cement his place in the first team.
Arsenal have the upper hand in this contest and after a cagey first 20 minutes, the gunners will have too much in reserve for Bournemouth.
They could even win by 2 or 3 goals by the final whistle with their pace and quality evident as the match goes on.
For stats hounds: Arsenal have played Bournemouth 11 times in all competitions since 1987, winning 8, drawing 2 and losing 1. Scoring 27 goals and conceding 9.
Ozil (4) Mkhitaryan (27) Koscielny (47) Aubameyang (59) Lacazette (78)
Preferred line up:
Martinez, Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Nelson, Ozil, Martinelli, Lacazette.
Probable Arsenal vs Bournemouth line up:
Maitland Niles, Sokratis, Holding,Kolasinac,
Nelson, Ozil, Martinelli and
Predicted Score : Arsenal win 3-0 vs Bournemouth