AFC Bournemouth-Arsenal: Match Preview, Projected Line-Up. Must Win, Must Play


With the visit of league leaders Leicester City looming, Arsenal simply must get back to scoring goals and winning matches.  Trips to the South Coast aren’t usually the easiest but somehow we have to find a way. How?

Probably by trying to pick up where we left off in the reverse fixture.

In that one, Mesut Ozil created 10 chances but we only scored two goals.  The first was Gabriel heading home an Ozil corner, the second Ozil put in himself on a lovely 1-2 with Olivier Giroud.

Since that match, the last one of the 2015 Calendar year, Arsenal have struggled in league play. After scraping past Newcastle with a fortunate 1-nil win in very heavy weather, the Gunners have drawn three times and lost once, grabbing only three points from the twelve on offer and tumbling from the top of the league to 4th place.  With Leicester City’s stunning 3-1 win at Manchester City today, we simply must take the full points at Bournemouth.

AFC Bournemouth actually come into this one as the team in better form.  Since our match, they’ve drawn at Leicester City and Sunderland, won at home vs Norwich and, most recently, beaten Crystal Palace in Croydon.  (They did lose at West Ham back on 12 January).  All told, that’s eight points from fifteen in 2016 and they now find themselves seven points clear of the relegation places.

Part of this strong form in the new year can be ascribed to the arrival of former Arsenal youth player Benik Afobe from Wolverhampton in the January transfer window.  While Arsenal have failed to score in our last three matches, Afobe alone has scored three times, more than justifying his ten million pound transfer fee, a Bournemouth record.

Stopping Afobe will be essential as Eddie Howe’s group, much as they did in the reverse fixture, tend to come out and play, enjoying the smooth pitch at the Vitality stadium.  Arsenal will have to show defensive solidity, win the midfield battles and control possession better than they did on Tuesday vs Southampton.  Most of all, they will have to convert their scoring chances.

At this point we need much more of the three Fs: functionality, fluidity and finishing, or else Gooners will likely be employing other words that begin with that letter.  How do we get there?

Most likely by dropping one whose name also begins with an F: Mathieu Flamini.  The 31 year old Corsican has been a key element in keeping Arsenal afloat after November injuries to Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin and Alexis Sanchez.  With the latter pair available for selection, manager Arsene Wenger most likely needs both of them in the starting group.

Picking that group correctly and Arsenal commanding the match from the opening kick-off seems essential.  Perhaps it’s actually an easier task away from the Emirates.  The traveling support has seen it all and tends to bring fewer nerves and, on the road, there’s less of a “here we are now, entertain us,” vibe that can take over in the home ground.

I feel far from sure this time, but here’s the group I think Wenger will put out.

Subs: Ospina, Gabriel, Chambers, Gibbs, Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott

I have to say that I’m quite unsure about some parts of this group.  I thought Mertesacker would come straight back into the team vs Southampton after serving his one match ban for the red card picked up against Chelsea.  That he didn’t perhaps indicates that Wenger has lost some faith in him.  For me, Gabriel hasn’t looked settled in the BFG’s spot.  Then again, he scored vs Bournemouth so maybe he goes again.

Similarly, while Joel Campbell works hard and has done very well since getting his chance, I wonder if he’s really the best choice over on the right.  In the first half of the Southampton match he and Hector Bellerin looked to have their wires crossed with basic possession play down that side.  Could Theo Walcott or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain get a start over there instead? Or maybe Aaron Ramsey plays his football from that starting position, in that ‘free role’ he made his own for much of 2015.

That could mean a chance for Mohammed Elneny, Flamini or Mikel Arteta alongside Coquelin at the rear of our midfield. Arsenal’s only January signing, Elneny, looked lively a week ago in the FA Cup vs Burnley but wasn’t included in the squad vs Southampton and has yet to kick a ball in league play.  Arteta was also left out of that team. Does Wenger include one or both?  Could Flamini go again?

It’s hard to say, but I will suggest that Wenger needs to get his selection right–proven, of course, in the eyes of most, only by the scoreline– and no matter who plays we need the full points and improved confidence ahead of the showdown with Leicester City.

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace


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73 Responses to AFC Bournemouth-Arsenal: Match Preview, Projected Line-Up. Must Win, Must Play

  1. retsub1 says:

    Well written 17ht. If we are going to start winning we need to start scoring goals. At the moment the most likely sources are Giroud and Alexis, the next tier would be Rambo, Ozil (will forgive him because he makes most of our goals). Walcott and maybe Campbell and Kos. Unless I am mistaken that’s about it.

    Giroud and Alexis aside the only players who I can see scoring regularly are Rambo and Theo. For that reason I would play Theo instead of Campbell, which may seem a little unfair, but in my view a worthwhile risk. Hopefully Theo will find some form.. Other than that same as you.

  2. 17highburyterrace says:

    Yeah retsub, I’d probably try somebody else over on the right, either Theo or Ramsey. The latter choice would (probably) bring back the DM combo from the FA Cup match: Elneny and Le Coq…

    You’re right about us being light in the goal-scoring, both in practice (practise?…) and in theory…esp. off the bench… We really need guys to start finishing their chances…

  3. Admir says:

    Good intro, 17.

    We need three points and I have a feeling that Bournemouth will offer us more space than any of our previous opponents. They don’t defend well at set-pieces and it looks to me they prefer a clean football. Or cleaner than the one of Southampton, at least.

    Basically, I would go with the same that won in the reverse fixture, with Coquelin’s and Alexis’ inclusion as only two changes. Alexis looks like Ozil in terms of creating chances, now it’s time for him to start scoring again. His understanding with Ozil is outstanding.

  4. Rocastle07 says:

    Great post. My line up would be;
    Bellerin Mertesacker Koz Monreal
    Coq Elneny
    Ramsey Ozil Alexis

    After Wednesday’s performance we created so many chances, I can’t see us not converting a few on Sunday. I think the boss will push Theo to the bench and introduce Elneny to the premiership.
    If we can grab all 3 points tomorrow next Sunday with Leicester will be a great chance to show our quality at home.

    Predicted score 1-3 ( Giroud, Alexis 2)


  5. Ab says:

    You’ve picked the 11 for me HT. Calls around Theo or Elneny etc would go against recent form. Its too soon to drop Campbell, or to write off his link up with Bellerin; and Rambo can’t be moved wide with Santi missing and Coq just back from injury (imo). What Wenger thinks of Mert is really interesting; like you I assumed he would come straight back, so I will watch with interest to see what happens there. Gird must start, and I would keep Theo on the bench as an alternative for him later on, rather than as a winger; at least until Welbeck is back and recovered.

    Fingers crossed!

  6. FMJ14 says:

    Hey HT great preview. I go with the line up you think Wenger will put out except I would replace BFG for Gabriel for the pace he has to counteract a quick Afobe and given more playing time I am sure he will be excellent for us. I think back to the form he was in playing for Villarreal and his early performances for us and I feel he is too good a player to be on the bench. Also I am slightly biased given the absolutely shocking lack of pace BFG actually has, not helped by his ageing legs either, and this is the Premier League where that will be exposed more than once. Otherwise he is great, ..although he does succumb to a lack of focus on occasion as well.

    I would keep Campbell on the right because of his work rate. We could get that similar work rate from Ramsey on the right so that could work but I don’t think Elneny is quite ready to partner El Coq from the vibes I get. I would keep Walcott in the centre and from the bench, I think his ego suffers when he is put out wide and he is not in good form right now. So the way I see it Retsub and HT regarding the right side.. If we do this we have a decent goal scorer we can bring off the bench in Theo, we have Alexis, Giroud and Ramsey who are likely scorers, we don’t destabilise the right side and it’s work rate or the balance in the centre – restored through El Coq’s return. Faith in this going forward with the interchange of Giroud and Theo depending on the opposition we can create some momentum. We can also give Elneny some chances in the centre when he is ready for it.

    Having said this Wenger might feel Theo is the one to spearhead the attack tomorrow with the nice pitch at the Vitality that you duly note HT. Going with @Rocastle above he might also feel that Elneny should get his chance now or from the bench in the centre.

    Not sure of my plans tomorrow I hope I can see it but otherwise it will be the highlights and a later catch up on here. Cheers. Best wishes for the team and COYG! 😀

  7. oz gunner says:

    great preview 17.

    Bang on with the team. Tough game, but we desperately need to get back on track.

    Ramsey is a lock for me. Out works every midfielder…his endurance and timing allows him to get in good positions in and around the box.

    0-2 to the mighty arsenal

  8. henrychan says:

    Hi all..
    Leicester’s magic continue.. But I feel happy City lost.. Somehow I still think City is our real enemy for title race..

    For tonight team.. I agreed with Rocastle07.. We should play 4-1-4-1.. Ramsey is to good to drop.. But Elneny and Coq are also great..
    And I prefer Gabriel play.. I still think Koscielny – Gabriel are our new hope.. Hehehe..

    We must win tonight.. Then next week will be a very important games.. We face Leicester and Spurs will against City.. What a mad league.. Hahahaha..

  9. henrychan says:

    Do I get the wrong info..?? Ozil was injured..??
    Please update.. Thx

  10. Pony Eye says:

    HT, you’ve done it again!

    What kind of mood will our team be in atm. I will bet that they are not thinking….. “We cannot afford to loose”. They must be thinking, like the rest of us, that they cannot afford not to win. They are all geared for a fight for victory. Wenger would want to tap into that energy, therefore expect him to tweak the balance of the team in favor of greater offensiveness. Though only ever so slightly.

    For this reason I expect that he will start Walcott ahead of Campbell. Getting goals scored must be occupying his strategic mind atm, and that guarantees that Rambo would start also, as pointed out lucidly by Retsub. Expected line up :


  11. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Seventeenho 🙂

    Agreed with the lineup and your thoughts re this. I don’t have much to add as it is up to the team to start the ascend again. I think we have the best team in the league and I believe in their commitment for the course. Let’s juice those Cherries by showing what we are capable of. CoyRRGs!

  12. allezkev says:

    Bournemouth have conceded 16 times from dead ball situations, the 2nd worst in the EPL.

    Our corners have improved this season.

    Just saying…

    Nice post 17…

  13. TotalArsenal says:

    A fiver on Koz to score first would seem a good bet, Kevski 🙂

  14. retsub1 says:

    Allezkev. I agree, as season or so ago it was a pointless exercise Arsenal winning a corner. In fact other teams scored on breakaways.

    Maybe we should drop all the little uns today

  15. 17highburyterrace says:

    G’morning fellas… Line-ups are out… Truth be told, I had zero trouble waking up for this one…just as the timer for the espresso machine switched on… Ox and Gabriel start… Hmmmmm….

    Bournemouth: Boruc, Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels, Surman, Ritchie, Gosling, Arter, Pugh, Afobe. Subs: Iturbe, King, Stanislas, Federici, Distin, Grabban, O’Kane.

    Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud. Subs: Gibbs, Mertesacker, Ospina, Walcott, Campbell, Coquelin, Iwobi.

    Referee: Kevin Friend

  16. 17highburyterrace says:

    Players who didn’t make the bench: Chambers (who played in the reverse fixture, as I probably should have mentioned…), Elneny and Arteta…

    So, Coquelin still not ready for a league start, Elneny even less ready, Arteta completely done?… Gabby & Kos = first choice CB pairing?…

    It’s all good if it works, all bad if it doesn’t, I guess…

    Anybody around for some game day chat? I assume there’s telly for all…

  17. Admir says:

    17, you know that as always you can count on me, my perfect English language and my down-to-Earth approach. 😀

  18. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey Admir… I was just thinking I needed my pre-match Flamini Warning… 😀

    I dunno why AW is keeping Le Coq on the bench… To me he looked lively enough in the FA Cup match a week ago… Ozil insisting upon his friend, I know, I know… More smileys…

    A(nother) big opportunity for the Ox…

    And BFG serving his 3-match ban with Gabriel starting again… He’s been looking more nervous than ugly in the last couple, I think…

    Personal questions: English is your 2nd language, correct? Learned in school, watching the telly? Backstory, please… Also, does the Leicester example mean that money isn’t everything or just the exception that proves the rule?… Finally, how’s the weather in your part of Bosnia?…

  19. 17highburyterrace says:

    Report is that Elneny misses due to the birth of a kid…

    Lads are in the tunnel…BFG wishing them well as he heads out to the bench….

  20. 17highburyterrace says:

    We have kickoff…

    The weather looks MUCH better than it did yesterday in Southampton…

  21. henrychan says:

    Flamini almost red.. Very lucky..
    Hope he can control his temper.. Don’t do silly things.. Very hard to play with 10 men..

  22. 17highburyterrace says:

    Yellow for Flams…after 8 mins… Surely Le Coq will get some playing time today…

    From the debris on the field it looks like a right to left breeze…

    Not much happening so far…Alexis, Ozil and Giroud can’t get involved so far… Less than perfect touches from Ox, Gabby and Rambo and B-Mouth coming into the match but only by winning a couple of FKs…

    Better there with a ball over the top for Alexis from Rambo… Tough angle left footer well over…

  23. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hi Henry… What do you think?

    B-mouth player faking injury should lead to some added time…

  24. 17highburyterrace says:

    There it is!!! Ozil!!! 1-nil…

  25. 17highburyterrace says:

    Geezus… He hit it so hard it almost appeared to come off the crossbar… Game will have to open up now…

    OX!!! 2-nil….

  26. allezkev says:


    What crisis?

  27. 17highburyterrace says:

    Very well placed and nice flowing assist from Ramsey… Two for the price of one and that old adage about the most dangerous time is right after a goal… 😀

  28. allezkev says:

    Total, do you owe me a fiver? 😃

  29. FMJ14 says:


  30. 17highburyterrace says:

    Nice shot by the injured fellow… Too central and Cech pushes it over…

  31. FMJ14 says:

    Let’s remain focussed defend as a team, correct that goal difference and get a few more

  32. 17highburyterrace says:

    With a two goal lead and Flamini on a yellow a half hour + for Coquelin seems a likely sub…

    Could also choose to rest Ozil… Nursing a foot problem?…

    Bells saves Gabby’s blushes but a linesman made a call earlier?…

  33. 17highburyterrace says:

    Corner can’t even reach Giroud outside the near post…strong cross-breeze…

  34. allezkev says:

    Listening to the radio, all I can hear is Ozil, Ozil, Ozil

  35. Admir says:

    17, I have had very poor teachers during primary school as most of them had had just a high-school degree. Most of my English I have learned since 2012. Present Perfect is a tense that I wasn’t using before that. 🙂

    Goals in the first half are exactly what we need, kudos for Chambo for scoring his first league goal since NLD 2014. 🙂

  36. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey kev… This Bournemouth team looks very vulnerable in the air but it’s tough conditions for that game today, I think… Ozil might have the best (golf) shots to play it, however… He just about put a hole in the net with his (off footed) goal…

  37. oz gunner says:

    Bang bang.

    Whilst I wouldn’t have gone with ox, he is still in marginally better form than theo. Which is a blight on both players at the moment.

    Let’s put this one beyond doubt!

  38. 17highburyterrace says:

    Cheers Admir… Present Perfect?… I need an example or I’ll have to wait for my wife (the English Prof…) to wake up…

    Maybe this Ox goal will make him forget the one he bounced over vs Bayern (luckily the behind the goal official saw Ozil had already scored it)…

    What a call from Wenger to start him!! Campbell would have had to shift it to his left foot… 😀

  39. 17highburyterrace says:

    Ref won’t make a call but the linesmen seem unafraid… Hey Oz…

  40. allezkev says:

    17tino, a clean sheet is the order of the day now matey…

    We need to improve our goal difference for sure….

  41. 17highburyterrace says:

    Breeze almost fools Nacho but Cech is lively off his line…


  42. allezkev says:

    Job 50% Done…

    That was Oxlade-Chamberlains first away goal in the EPL, I understand…

  43. 17highburyterrace says:

    Yeah, that’s right, AK, about the Ox… He and Bells will have the in your face breeze in the 2nd half… Clean sheet would be very nice, but I could also go for a couple more goals…. 😀

    OK, I have looked up the present perfect and I have understanding now…

    Seems to me like you prefer the present perfect subjunctive, Admir… Wenger should have spent, for example… 😀

  44. oz gunner says:


    Wow. I surprised. That is pretty bad. He seems to have all the shooting tools, just needs to be calibrated like a touch screen. Always appears to be ~10% off. He want today though…that was centimetre perfect

  45. 17highburyterrace says:

    Oz… The Ox seems a perfectionist and football is not a game for such types…It’s fine to be a perfectionist in training and working on your game and all that, but on the pitch you’ve got to let it all go… Maybe that’s why he got caught dancing in the tunnel vs So’ton… He should blame his (sports) psychologist… 😀

    2nd half on…

  46. 17highburyterrace says:

    Bournemouth trying to get back into the match… Ramsey’s guy has a belt from 22 but it soars over… Other end, Ozil and Giroud almost…

    Very poor closing down from Nacho and Ox but the 8 yarder is just wide…

  47. allezkev says:

    Yeah, that surprised me Oz…

    Bournemouth going for it now, we need to be resilient and disciplined…

  48. 17highburyterrace says:

    Good position there from Gabby, Afobe’s touch just ran away from him… Next goal means game over or game on…

  49. allezkev says:

    Corner, come on

  50. 17highburyterrace says:

    Nice defensive header from Nacho on the FK…Not as easy as it looked, but no B-mouth players pressuring it either…

  51. 17highburyterrace says:

    Subs, but only from the opponent…

  52. 17highburyterrace says:

    Le Coq for Ox…

  53. allezkev says:

    Interesting substitution, Ramsey onto right flank perhaps?

  54. allezkev says:

    What we have, we hold….

  55. Admir says:

    17, e.g. I would rather use “Giroud scored 12 goals” than “Giroud has scored 12 goals” or “Arsene is at Arsenal since 1996” than “Arsene has been at Arsenal since 1996”. It’s more natural to my first language.

  56. 17highburyterrace says:

    I think you’ve got it Kev… He doesn’t want to play there and we don’t want to see him taking those sorts of shots from there, too…

  57. 17highburyterrace says:

    Alexis cutting a frustrated figure but AW leaving him out there… Muscles must OK…

    Inneresting touch-back to Cech from Kos…

    We could use a 3rd, I think…

    Sloppy sloppy from Rambo and Alexis on the break… Well started from Rambo, however… Fresh legs needed?

  58. 17highburyterrace says:

    How about a Gibbs for Alexis? Theo for Giroud?

    Bournemouth use their last sub…

  59. Admir says:

    Grabban has already taken 2 pts away from us when he was at Norwich.

  60. Admir says:

    I would go with Iwobi for Alexis but I think Theo will come on.

  61. Admir says:

    Nope, Gibbs it is. 😀

  62. allezkev says:

    Yep, you was right 17tino, Gibbs for Alexis.

    I agree, I’d bring on Walcott for Giroud, push Bournemouth back…

  63. allezkev says:

    Both our strikers, are in a bad place goal scoring wise…

    Walcott vs Man City
    Giroud vs Liverpool

  64. allezkev says:

    Job Done….

    Nice work 17tino…

  65. 17highburyterrace says:

    Not pretty but job done… Nice saves from Cech at the end to keep the clean sheet…

    Alexis got off the bench (and into the tunnel/out of the weather) as quickly as anything he did on the pitch…

  66. Admir says:

    It was a good victory. A must-win game was won – kudos for the boys and Arsene.

    Arsenal v Leicester, City v Spuds. Big matches are on schedule. We need a victory before our trip to Manchester United. In fact, we need a winning streak but as they say, a thousand mile trip begins with the first step.

  67. njk84sg says:

    Good job guys,

    Given the superior goal difference spuds has over us we only came back to third.

    We need them to drop points and hope that we play with the brakes off.

    We were playing with the brakes on for most of the game and they are quite good at pegging us back.

    Cheers and Happy Lunar New Year,

  68. FMJ14 says:

    Good win and well done guys! We’re getting back into the groove 🙂

  69. 17highburyterrace says:

    Ox gets his first away goal…but only because AW put him in… Is there a certain whiff of genius there?… 😀

    Well, I hope Bournemouth can stay up as they play a good looking game compared to some of those teams down there… I think I might have thought the same about Leicester a year ago…

    “Might have thought,” future perfect subjunctive? Pluperfect? English teacher wife doesn’t know, having moved into administration, maybe?…

  70. 17highburyterrace says:

    Happy New Year, JK…

    Brake on or does two goals change the game more than just one? I would’ve put Theo on, maybe alongside Giroud and kept him at the center circle on corners, but that almost makes me sound like a coach…

  71. Admir says:

    @17 – isn’t it a conditional or something like that?

    Yep, Arsene made a great choice with The Ox. Arsene IN! 😀

    About Bournemouth… I make a lot of comparisons between this season and 2010-11 and here is another one: Blackpool = Bournemouth. One of our rare victories in the second half of the season was away at Blackpool (remember Mad Jens making a brief cameo? 🙂 ). Blackpool went down for being too naive defensively (the fact they had been managed by Holloway and had had Charlie Adam as their best player helped me to get over their relegation). Bournemouth, on the other hand, have already collected enough points to avoid a stressful run-in, I think. I guess Norwich look like the most likely to join Aston Villa and Sunderland on their travel to Championship.

  72. Rocastle07 says:

    Enjoyed that result, not the prettiest of a game, but 2 quick fire goals beautiful to watch. Some definite positives today;
    Coq, gets valuable minutes, a starter next week I guess.
    Alexis got to blow away some cobwebs.
    The Ox has got his shooting boots on ready for an end of season explosion.
    Cech’s calm to the fore, in years past we’d not have kept a clean sheet.
    Ozil, really is pushing this team, let’s remember he is a proven winner.
    We’re now level on point with Spurs , if they are title contenders, we’re back in the hunt.
    Can’t wait for next Sunday, top 4 all play each other, points will be dropped, a victory for us and I can see City taking yesterday’s result it out on Spurs.

  73. 17highburyterrace says:

    Don’t you need to say, “New Post, New Post”…

    Consider me confused…

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