Arsenal travel to face Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium tomorrow night with the pressure on for both sides. Arsenal have seen all our top-of-the-table rivals, except Liverpool, take all three points ahead of tonight’s match, and will be looking to add to Chelsea’s pressure in Wednesday’s visit to White Hart Lane.
The official Bournemouth site has provided a nice preview and are pinpointing the lack of Jack Wilshere, and possibly Mesut Ozil, as a big factor in the game. Here is their article in full…
Five Point Preview: AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal
What chance of a third scorpion goal at Vitality, and how will the two sides fare without their conductors? Here are five things to look out for as the Cherries welcome the Gunners on Tuesday.
Both sides recorded solid victories over New Year, but could face off on Tuesday night without a key attacking midfield component. Cherries man of the match at the Liberty Stadium, Jack Wilshere, will definitely miss the contest as he is unable to play against his parent club, while the Gunners could also be without a key forward component. World Cup winner Mesut Ozil missed Sunday’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace suffering from a bout of the flu, and remains a doubt to to be back in time to line up at Vitality Stadium.
Putting on the pressure
At the halfway point of the Premier League season the Gunners sit nine points off leaders Chelsea, but playing the day before the table toppers, Arsenal have the chance to close the gap at Vitality. With six games being played today, the pressure will be on the Cherries before they kick-off on Tuesday night. A good round of games coupled with three points against Arsenal could push Bournemouth into the Premier League’s top eight, while they could drop as low as 14th if things don’t go their way across the board.
Rewards in rest?
The match brings to a close the busy Christmas and New Year period for both clubs – with the FA Cup third round taking centre stage for both clubs this coming weekend. AFC Bournemouth have, however, had an extra day to recover since their last match, with Arsenal in action on Sunday afternoon – finishing their game with Palace barely 48 hours before things get under way at Vitality. With Ozil a doubt and Shkodran Mustafi still tentatively working his way back towards the starting 11 after injury, Eddie Howe may look to take advantage of his side’s slight advantage in the rest stakes.
Points to prove
As mentioned, Wilshere won’t be able to show his worth to Gunners manager Arsene Wenger, though striker Benik Afobe will be hoping to show his old boss what he’s missing. Afobe is the Matchday cover star for the game and joined the Arsenal academy aged just six-years-old. After representing England across the youth age groups and ending his long association with the Gunners by securing a move to Wolves before joining AFC Bournemouth last January, Afobe could now line up against Arsenal for the third time. The forward scored his second goal of the season on New Year’s Eve and will be staying with the Cherries this month after deciding not to travel to the Africa Cup of Nations with DR Congo.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan got the ball rolling with his flying stunner against Sunderland on Boxing Day, but Olivier Giroud upped the ante with a New Year’s Day flying back heel of his own. Giroud’s scorpion kick was his second goal in two games for the Gunners, but will a Cherries player have drawn inspiration from the efforts and look to bring up a Scorpion hat-trick at Vitality?
Will Benik Afobe stamp his ex-Arsenal mark in tonight’s game in the absence of Wilshere? Or will Arsenal miss Ozil more? The Gunners can’t afford to take their eye off the ball with Bournemouth starting to click under Eddie Howe’s direction. Let’s hope Wenger has got his team focused and ready to keep his team in the title race and end the day in third place…
Onwards and Upwards!