Arsenal-AFC Bournemouth: Match Preview, Predicted Line-up. Gabriel in for the BFG, Ox for JC, Cham for Flam? “I Count on my Team

To Respond.”

That’s all fine and good, Arsene, but how do you plan to make it happen?  Do you rotate into our very (very, very) depleted squad to find some freshness or do you stick with the team that beat Manchester City (and Aston Villa and Olympiakos) but was turned over like a rotten sea creature on the South Coast?

Maybe it’s time to break out the hair dryer and give the team a blast?  Or at least be prepared to give one to referee Roger East (who?) if he starts refusing to see all the fouls as Jon Moss did down there on Boxing Day.

The 4-nil drubbing we took in that one cannot all be blamed on the ref.  Wenger needs to fix that which got broken and turn it into a real one off.  We cannot allow all the great work done by the (very depleted) squad to be undone by that lopsided scoreline.

Thank dennis, then, that Pac-Man Clyde has another bite at the cherries, as it were.

Hey, that’s a nice pair of cup-cakes!

Indeed, Arsenal need to get back to eating more festive fare after the meager rations they were afforded the day after Christmas. What looked a plump and luscious bird (of a team) after soaring to victory over Manchester City less than a week ago now appears more like the carcass of a Christmas Goose.  Southampton, at least, fed nicely on our skeleton squad, a group unable to provide anything close to what was needed on a day historically associated with charity.

Some Gooners, of course, will want to pick over the bones, too.  Others will come to the stadium (or nestle in on the sofa or belly up to the bar) ready to yell for their team to right itself and get back to winning ways.  How about you?

With so little time between matches it could be all about mental preparation.  How shall we look at AFC Bournemouth?

Coming from the Football League in 2009 all the way to the PL this year, Bournemouth’s rise IS a great story.  Moreover they seem bent on staying up and they have notched some impressive wins in this crazy season.  Surely they will come to our stadium with belief that they can repeat those heroics.  Having already won at Stamford Bridge (and beaten Manchester United at home and West Bromwich Albion, away, in even more recent matches) they cannot help but be buoyed by our dismal showing yesterday in their South Coast neighborhood.

Additionally, the Cherries have found their best form recently, and, even if they sit only 3 points out of the relegation places, they are a team which hasn’t lost since 7 November.  It’s been a remarkable run of matches which has also included very late goals to draw with Everton as well as one in the win over Chelsea.  Most recently, yesterday in their Boxing day fixture, they won a point in a gritty nil-nil vs Crystal Palace.

As a promoted team up from the Championship, their game is built on attacking and scoring goals.  Manager Eddie Howe may not be the youngest manager in the league (that honor goes to Alex Neil at Norwich–which shows just how hair loss can affect how people view you…) but he’s got his young, almost ‘no-name’ group (unless of course you include Adam Smith–not an economist–and Charlie Daniels–not a fiddle player) working together as a very tight unit with a decidedly youthful flair.  Assuming Bournemouth will be anything less than fully committed and very, very dangerous heading into this one, seems only a notion for the casual or (dare I say it?…) spoilt Arsenal fan.

By contrast, Wenger (no longer the oldest manager in the league now that Hiddink is back) has a squad, which, after boxing day at least, looks in need of a collective zimmerframe.  He wants a response but sometimes deaf ears also belong to those with weary bones.  Can we do it?  And if so, how?

Unfortunately, reinforcements from the physio-room or the transfer market are not available even if Egyptian midfielder Mohammed Elneny is said to be headed there (to the physio-room, for a physical, supposedly on Wednesday) from Basel FC for some 5 million pounds.

Does AW try to get more out of the same players who have started the last four matches or does he try to mix things up, reserving a couple of regulars as bench options?

Given the quick turnaround from the last one (less than 48 hours!!) I think he must go with the latter but still force several of our strongest players to play long minutes.  Here’s my look into the crystal ball.

Subs: Ospina, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Flamini, Campbell, Iwobi, Reine-Adelaide

I’m calling for bench places for Mertesacker, Flamini and Joel Campbell, guys who did very well in getting us through most of December, but who also appeared (to my eye, at least) ineffective at Southampton.

My line-up also moves Theo Walcott to the right flank of our attack and brings Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in on the left.  To me, this might allow a bit of preparation for Theo if Wenger chooses to use both him and Olivier Giroud in later matches.  Joel Campbell has done well on the right but surely he (and the Ox) will give way when Alexis Sanchez returns to the squad.  By using the Ox, another (mostly) right-footed player in Alexis’ usual starting spot on the left flank, it should help not just Theo but the entire squad hold their shape just that tiny bit extra, a key, I think, in this match.

Chambers and Gabriel, players who might tend to sit back or at least are less likely to get caught too far forward, might also help us avoid our undoing from Boxing Day: letting the opponent score the first goal.  Southampton were the first team since the North London Derby to net one before we did.  I believe that if we can get the first on Monday evening, we can claim full points.  We’ll still need full focus over the entire match, but the lift an early goal would provide would be incalculable–especially compared to the grumbles (or worse) which might come if Bournemouth were to score first.

So, discipline and defending first but still plenty of fire-power up front.  Our squad is in a bit of a lifeboat scenario here, just trying to get across to January.  The last thing we need is further deflation and/or leaks.

So, go on then, you Gunners, blow it up!!

(You Gooners should do likewise too.  Tell me if you think I’m on the right track or if, I too, could use a little air…)


by 17highburyterrace

20 thoughts on “Arsenal-AFC Bournemouth: Match Preview, Predicted Line-up. Gabriel in for the BFG, Ox for JC, Cham for Flam? “I Count on my Team

  • Great preview HT!! I agree with all the changes you make here. This will help freshen up the team but also blood yet to establish themselves players – the Ox, Gabriel and Chambers at DM.

    I think a team who wins despite playing badly is a thing of the past with all this new tv investment across the league. Bournemouth are giant killers in recent times too. So.. Full focus at ‘subconscious level’ (as Arsene puts it) is a must.. This goes hand in hand with being completely up for it and getting at em from first to last.

  • HT,

    Your posts are always so informative. I also admire your ability to master your emotions for objectivity in your analysis. Always, the last drama holds me in its vice-like grip, choking the senses out of me. Or does it? Isn’t the moment part of reality?

    I remember reading a study that says games without sufficient rests do not really lower performance level, but definitely increase players’ sussessibility to muscular injuries. Rotation should therefore be based on resting the busiest players as much as on the availability of adequate subs. Topping this busiest list, by the records, is Ozil and Monreal, followed by Bellerin and Koshieny. Therefore line up for me is :

    Bench: Ospina, Kosh, Monreal, Flam, Ozil, Iwobi, Adelaide.

    I have included Bel because (1) I suspect there are dressing room issues over Deb, (2) Bel had a 2 game (I believe) rest not too long ago, (3) at his younger age recovery time is less, (5) so as not to alter our settled back five too radically.

    A 4:3:3 might be ideal for the personnel, giving line up as :

    Bel——–Per——–Gabby—— Gibbs

  • Hello, people!

    17, thanks for a nice preview but here is another bad news:

    Jack won’t be back before February.

    One of these days I will make an article that will consist Arsene’s statements on how long players would be out and the real date of their return. The whole situation over Welbeck and Wilshere makes either Arsene a liar or our medical team the most incompetent bunch of butchers in the history of football.

  • Thanks for the fab preview, 17HT 🙂

    Tomorrow is all about a team response, and whoever plays will know what’s expected. Bournemouth’s win at the Bridge was definitely the non Arsenal highlight of the season so far. We are warned and need to bounce back. The rest is up to the boys and the home crowd.

  • Cheers for the comments…Not too many but all of excellent quality…

    PE, The poetry in your writing almost demands that you do some sort of mid-season review for the site… Indeed the sport was developed for punters to live (and die) in the moment, but, if we intend to be Would-be-Wengers we have to have a longer term view, I think… The 2nd part is that it’s all out of our hands but our boys know when they really need to push and when they have to save themselves for another day…It’s called ‘wisdom,’ maybe…

    On that note, better players are able to play “within themselves” and still contribute. That’s why I stump for resting/rotating guys like Flams, Campbell and the BFG. It may not look like it but they’ve been giving their all to the cause, IMO, at least… Ozil, Giroud and Theo plus the FBs have done a lot of running but also plenty of watching and figuring out how best to help others help the team, I believe…

    Admir, I know you feel a need to figure out a rationale for earlier (and very, very strong) ‘Wenger Out’ sentiments, but I’ve come to accept that the manager lies in order to take pressure off his players AND avoid situations where they are bound to fail, i.e., kill their confidence. As much as we’d like to believe it’s all hard science re: injuries, you cannot diagnose the exact time a player will miss on the day he gets knackered. (In other words it’s Public Relations, do we really want the manager saying, yep, because we’ve lost x and y–and maybe z–we’re f**ked…) Besides, do we really want to bring back guys before they’re ready? Additionally, try telling children (players in their early 20s…) that bed-rest is what is required. They will (almost) always push themselves too hard. So, is it Chad Forsythe or Arsene Wenger who is the problem or is it Jack Wilshere (Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez)?… Sounds to me like we’re getting ready to announce the signing of a promising Egyptian midfielder from the top team in Switzerland… 😀 The fact that Welbeck’s return has also been pushed back suggests the full window will be available for some back and forth with other clubs about forwards… But maybe I’m just a hippy optimist… More smileys…

    Completely agreed., TA, because of the Boxing day debacle, tomorrow is a very big one…

  • Nice preview 17!

    You’ve obviously had a change in heart regarding squad rotation and the Ox in particularly? Your response to my comment to the last post was essentially that Ospina, Debuchy, Chambers, Gabriel, Gibbs and Ox weren’t of the requisite quality for Arsene to play, even on a rotational basis. Now you’re recommending to start 3 of them versus Bournemouth? I’m glad to hear of your change of heart! 😜

    The only rotation I’m not sure about is Gabriel for Mertesacker. I think Gabriel and Koscielny are very similar players in terms of their skill sets and attributes and that Arsenal’s CB partnership works best when the players’ skill sets and attributes compliment one another as oppose to replicate each other. Chambers appears to possess a skill set and attributes more akin Mertersacker than Gabriel’s. So I would partner Chambers with Koscielny or Chambers with Gabriel and rest both Per and Laurent, with Kamara getting a chance in the centre of midfield next to Ramsey.

  • 17,
    I just hope the team doesnt assume it will be an easy bounceback game monday.

    People calling us big game bottlers. Completely wrong. We used to be, not any more. We won the BIG game vs city. Then fell into the trap in the next one, as happens so often in this league, to all the top teams.

    The players fault. Not Arsene. All he could do was to stick up for his players as usual, unlike so many other managers.

  • On reflection, Arsenal really have no genuine alternatives in the CDM role to Coquelin. Kamara, Bielik and Flamini are far too positionally ill disciplined to perform the role effectively and Chambers simply lacks mobility to operate as a midfielder. So for the match versus Bournemouth I would like to see Ox and Ramsey in the centre of midfield and working collectively as genuine double pivot partnership with Jeff or Crowley on the left wing, Walcott upfront and Campbell on the right wing.

  • flo8,

    Your rotation is too risky.
    Actually, we need a pacy or storky DM to defend the back 4, and Chambers or Flams might fit the bill.

    And look at how i predicted something will happen if Kos ventures out too much.

    So, for me, i will stick to what 17ht has penned in his lineup.


  • Definitely Le Coq is the first choice, but Chambers is still trying to find his best position in the team, so he might just do ok in DM.

  • So JK would you prefer Arsenal to rotate Coquelin and Chambers in the CDM role or would you prefer Arsenal to purchase another CDM to compete with Coquelin? If you think another player needs to be bought, who would you like to see Arsenal buy?

  • Flo8,

    Knowing Le Prof’s eagerness to make full use of his squad rather than keep them on the bench (except for GK), it might be an interesting one, to start Chambers to test if he can be the person suited for DM.

    If he fails the test, then we certainly will see some purchases.
    However, as to who the player is, I have put forth names in the past, but as today is game day, I would rather not do something so rash.


  • I didn’t realise Arsene was keen to make full use of his squad. That would be an exciting change! 😄

  • Morning FFGs ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️

    Match Day!

    What I usually say around this time of year is that not one of the top teams will make more than one point, or maybe two, on the others during the four festive PL games; and I reckon the same will happen this time round. This is a matter of keeping up rather than running away, and with all the injuries in midfield especially, we should be glad if we can just do that (which has been the gist of 17HTs writing recently).

    Johnnie is right to point out that we cannot think it will be easy today, and not so much the players selected for the games but their mindset is key to getting a victory.

    So let’s imagine Wenger meeting with his starting eleven against the Saints after that torrid game and asking: who wants to restore pride for our club and play on Monday; and who needs a rest? Don’t worry about saying the latter, but you need to be honest with me…. Now, who will restore the pride, who will show what we are made of and get us top of the league?

    I reckon only Flamini might put his hand up and say, I need a rest… And Chambers would be a very good guess. 😉

  • Some interesting (and concerning) pre match comments from Arsene on squad rotation:

    “When you lose a game, [the media] say: ‘Why don’t you change?’ – but when you lose and you have changed, they then say, ‘Why did you change a side that has won in a convincing way?’” he said.

    “Why do I use this team? Firstly because they win, and secondly because 80 per cent of the players that play are not overloaded with games and look well.

    “If you look at the number of games Mathieu Flamini (9/18), Aaron Ramsey (14/18) and Joel Campbell (8/18) played since the start of the season… even Olivier Giroud (18/18) for a long while didn’t play games and Theo Walcott (12/18) lso has just come back.

    “These players are not overloaded with games. It is not like they have played 25 games.”

    Arsene’s logic fundamentally fails to take account of the lack of recovery time between games.

    The sequence of matches versus Swansea, Bayern and Spurs earlier in the season was a good example. The same 11 players played all three matches over a seven day period. The results were a victory, a loss and a draw. Whilst many teams will lose to Bayern Munich this season, the draw versus Spurs was as a result of a lethargic performance from 11 tired players.

    The subsequent seven day period is another good example. During that period we played West Brom, Zagreb and Norwich. The results were a lethargic loss, a spirited victory and a lethargic draw, which on the balance of play we were lucky to secure. On top of that we lost Coquelin, Sanchez and Cazorla to long term injuries. The root cause a lack of structured squad rotation and a persistence with flogging the same 11 players match after match with minimal rest in between.

    The same issue was evident versus Southampton, with same 11 players having played the previous 4 matches over 20 days. It’s a concerning pattern that I don’t see being addressed and until it is expect persistent injuries to continue plaguing the squad, points being dropped against inferior opposition due to lethargy. I fear Bournemouth will be another one of those matches were we see a lethargic performance from the same 11 players that took on Southampton.


  • Well Freddie, said Arsene with that typical foxy smile on his face, despite the injuries we are second in the league and through to the last sixteen in the CL, evidence that I pick winning teams… And I can give you many examples when it paid off to play the same eleven again and again… 😉

  • ‘Morning fellas… Kick off in about 1.5 hours…I’m not sure if I can do the live-blog thing as there’s a light snow falling which might worry my house-guests who have to drive out of here. I was hoping they could stay for the match and, ideally, see the Arsenal do a bit better than on Boxing Day.

    FL08, I don’t quite know what to say about the rotation stuff which seems so critical to your view. It appears guided by both hindsight and appraisals about the quality and positional appropriateness of various players which do not jibe with my own. As such, it seems a debate I should walk away from, much as Wenger, I think, is trying to do with the hypothetical questions he is posed after disappointing results. You find those responses particularly disturbing (or they seem to prove your–very untestable, I might add–ideas in some way, but to me they seem quite reasonable. In the end, who am I to argue with your ideas if they please you?…

    Back in the real world… We’ve got a match to play… Line-ups are coming out so I guess I’ll try the live-blog thing again…

  • No, no, it’s up… the New Post, that is… My house guests too…

    I started writing the comment above a while ago…but, trying to figure out FL08’s thoughts took some time…and then I had to give up… 😦

    Kickoff now in less than half an hour… See you over on the live-blog, I hope…

    New Post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s