Arsenal travel down to the South Coast this morning to take on a Bournemouth side managed by the highly respected Eddie Howe,and the Cherries are definitely going to be well organised and tactically prepared to face the Gunners.
This is another must-win game for Arsene Wenger’s side to stay in touch with the race for the title, and a win will take them to third place just six points behind Chelsea ahead of tomorrows big derby against Spurs. But as Arsenal played against Crystal Palace just two days ago, there are certainly set to be a certain amount of rotation to keep some fresh legs on the field.
Mesut Ozil missed the Palace game with illness and is also expected to be absent today, so the full list of fit players should be as follows….
Cech, Ospina, Bellerin, Jenkinson, Holding, Gabriel, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Elneny, Coquelin, Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Reine-Adelaide, Walcott, Iwobi, Sanchez, Giroud, Welbeck.
So let’s first look at the starting XI against Palace, and see where Le Prof is likely to make changes…
Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal
Elneny, Xhaka, Iwobi
Sanchez, Giroud, Lucas
To start with we have the great news that Mustafi is now fit again, and I expect him to replace Gabriel in the back four, but otherwise the defence will stay the same.
Coquelin was given a rest on Sunday, so I’m sure he will return alongside Xhaka, and as Iwobi put in such a promising shift in Ozil’s position I expect him to start once again. It is possible that Wenger will play Ramsey instead but it is more likely he will be brought on later in the game as he is eased back to full fitness.
Up front is where I see the biggest changes, with Alexis being returned to the centre-forward position, and Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain returned to the wings. Their fresh legs will allow them to use their speed to great effect against a defensive set up as expected this evening. There is a chance that Giroud coud start again after his heroics against Palace but I think he will be on the bench until Alexis starts to look tired.
So this is the line-up I expect to see today….
Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal
Xhaka, Coquelin, Iwobi
Walcott, Sanchez, The Ox
What do you think will be Wenger’s team today?