We return to Premier League action on Saturday when we host Bournemouth at Emirates Stadium.
Ahead of the game, tactical expert Michael Cox and former Gunner Adrian Clarke analyse our opponents’ strengths, danger men and areas we can target.
MC: Eddie Howe has impressed since guiding Bournemouth to promotion two years ago, creating a solid, cohesive and harmonious side that has comfortably avoided relegation in both seasons without any true star players. No points from the opening three games of the season, however, is a worrying start.
AC: They played well against Manchester City and, if they play that well against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium, they’ll give us a run for our money. They’re an excellent footballing side and I remember commentating on this fixture last season, and they took the game to Arsenal. The dominated the game for long periods and caused problems.
MC: There’s a concern that Howe isn’t entirely sure of his best system. He’s played two strikers in all three matches, with the excellent Joshua King supporting either Benik Afobe or Jermain Defoe. But after playing a 4-4-1-1 system in the first two matches, he switched to 3-5-2 for the game against Manchester City. This was seemingly because he wanted to match City’s expected three-man defence, but then Pep Guardiola deployed a back four anyway. Still, the use of three conventional midfielders helped the Cherries compete in the centre, and that might be the system he uses this weekend too.
AC: I’m expecting the team to come back from this break fully fired up and I hope they can outmuscle Bournemouth. If they’ve got a weakness, sometimes it’s them being a little bit soft. If you can get in amongst them and be more aggressive than them, I think we’ll have no problem winning the game. This is not a side to be taking lightly, that’s for sure.
MC: Bournemouth keep possession excellently. Andrew Surman and Harry Arter are both good all-round midfielders, comfortable on the ball and capable of covering plenty of ground too. Dan Gosling came into the side as a third central midfielder against City, and that familiar trio is likely to start again here.
AC: They’re going to score goals this season, I just hope they don’t spend too much time in Arsenal’s final third this game. Because the confidence is a bit low among the first team at the moment, we need to keep Bournemouth out of our own defensive third. Once they get there, I think they can cause Arsenal problems.
MC: Joshua King hit 16 Premier League goals last season. He’s generally been used as a second striker but might drift inside from the left flank here. Either way, he’s likely to be Bournemouth’s major threat, particularly for his counter-attacking speed.
AC: Defoe is the standout dangerman up top, if he plays. King playing just off Defoe is a really potent strike force for Bournemouth and I think they will score a lot of goals. Charlie Daniels scored a wonderful goal in the reverse fixture last season, and he scored against City last time out.
AREAS TO TARGET
MC: Bournemouth’s major shortcoming is their poor defending of crosses and set-pieces, which has cost them in this fixture previously, and it’s also noticeable that their own corners have been particularly disappointing, with too many deliveries not clearing the first man. There’s also been a vulnerability to through-balls played between defenders, perhaps as their full backs push forward regularly and leave huge gaps for the centre backs to cover, which might play into the hands of Arsenal’s intricate attacking.
AC: I wouldn’t take too much notice of the fact they’ve been shy of goals so far because they’re an attacking team. It’s at the other end of the pitch where I worry for them a bit. They’ve made a slight improvement bringing in Nathan Ake, though.
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