The Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is very highly respected for his work at the South Coast club and he sets his team out to be effective and entertaining, so there is no surprise that he is often tipped to be Arsenal’s new manager when Arsene Wenger retires. He has done amazing things with Bournemouth in his four years in charge and is actually the second longest serving manager behind our own boss.
Last weeks surprise away win at Stoke saw the Cherries move comfortably into tenth in the Premier League. Admittedly at this stage of the season that is only 4 points above the relegation zone, but it is worth noting that if they should somehow beat Arsenal today they will move up to 8th, just one point below Man United!
Wenger had nothing but good to say about his opposing manager today. “You must say he has done well, so that’s an encouraging example for the other clubs to follow,” said Wenger. “Overall I think he is a very young, promising manager who certainly has a bright future in English football.
“I would say Bournemouth is a team who has a good possession game, it is a team who tries to play in a positive way, who tries to go forward very quickly. And as well, a team where there is a good physical ability to cover distance, so we have to respond on that front.”
Although Howe has got Bournemouth punching above their weight, the fact is that last weeks win at Stoke was their first away victory since beating relegation-fodder Aston Villa back in April, and they will have their work cut out to get anything from Arsenal, who are unbeaten in their last 18 games. They may take heart from playing the Gunners in Nasty November, but Wenger will be keen to put our last three draws behind us and return to winning ways.
As Wenger said: “When you go through a spell where you’re less good and you don’t lose, it’s still a sign of quality and of spirit. I think what you want is to acknowledge what we can improve. We have lost a bit of creativity, fluency and speed in our movement. That’s what we want to find back and keep our strengths. If you start to win again, the whole thing together will look great.”
Interesting fact of the Day! Since the start of the 2014-15 season, Arsenal have won 65.5% of the Premier League matches in which Santi Cazorla has started (36 out of 55), compared with 39.4% when he has not (13 out of 33).
Arsenal have only played the Cherries three times before and have never conceded a goal, in fact both of last season’s fixtures ended 2-0 in our favour and I can’t really see this game as a banana skin for the Gunners.
As to the team selection, that has already been discussed in detail here in the light of Wenger saying he will be rotating some players, and here is the line-up that I am expecting this afternoon….
Jenkinson Koscielny Mustafi Monreal
Walcott Ozil The Ox
This team will definitely have far too much class for Bournemouth, especially with Jack being ineligible to play. The Cherries may have improved from last season, but Arsenal are also much much stronger squad-wise, so I am going to stick my neck out and predict an easy 3-0 win for the Gunners to keep in touch at the top of the League, and create a small gap ahead of Tottenham!
Onwards and Upwards!