Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side host Bournemouth at Emirates Stadium on Monday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth made a stuttering start to their first-ever Premier League season, partly because of injuries to various key players. They’ve learned to defend deeper, ensured they’re compact to deny opposition players space between the lines, and results have improved.
They continue to play good passing moves, with neat one-twos bypassing opponents in midfield - but it’s unlikely they’ll attempt to dominate at the Emirates. Victories over Chelsea and Manchester United earlier this month were achieved through good counter-attacking and maximising set-piece situations.
"Glenn Murray has generally been used as a supersub - a role he played excellently for Crystal Palace in Arsenal’s 2-1 win at Selhurst Park last year"
Veteran Artur Boruc was dropped in favour Adam Federici earlier in the season, but has regained his place and performed well. The defence has improved, too, largely since captain Simon Francis moved inside from right-back to the heart of the defence alongside Steve Cook.
Left-back Charlie Daniels is a steady full-back and more defensively aware than his number 11 shirt would suggest, and rampaging runs are more likely from right-sided Adam Smith, who has only been a regular for a couple of months, but has impressed with his stamina, crossing and goalscoring ability - he’s hit goals against Everton and West Brom.
The three-man midfield perform effectively as a cohesive unit. The under-rated, intelligent Andrew Surman plays the holding role very calmly, more about positioning and intercepting rather than tough tackling, and he’s supported well by Dan Gosling and Harry Arter, who also combine nicely when Bournemouth move the ball quickly through midfield, charging forward into attack simultaneously.
Out on the right, Scottish international Matt Ritchie is a lively playmaker who also loves to come inside and shoot, which in turn opens up the flank for Smith to bomb forward. He drifts in and out of games, but more than any other Bournemouth player, is capable of producing a moment of magic from nowhere.
Left-sided Junior Stanislas needs no second invitation to charge forward in support of lone striker Josh King. These two are sometimes frustrating in front of goal, but their pace and hard work ensures a constant counter-attacking threat.
Glenn Murray has generally been used as a supersub - a role he played excellently for Crystal Palace in Arsenal’s 2-1 win at Selhurst Park last year. Introduced with 10 minutes remaining, he scored a goal, and then hit the post with seconds remaining. Having hit the winner at Stamford Bridge earlier this month with his first touch, Arsenal must watch him carefully if he’s summoned from the bench.
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