AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal
The Cherries and Eddie Howe bring a football smile to my face. There is something really lovely about them. This is only their third season in the top league and last season Bournemouth finished a very, very respectable ninth. Eddie Howe lets his boys play proper passing football and they all work for the team. It is the system of football and team culture, rather than a collection of quality players, that make the difference at AFC Bournemouth; and this, my friends, is a sign of an excellent football manager. He is a real gent in front of the cameras and clearly lives for the game.
It is also at Dean Court where Super Jack regained his confidence and game rhythm, and Howe really was the right manager for him to make this happen. For this we should be very thankful.
Despite all this respect we have for the Cherries and their manager (and possibly ours in the far future), we need to be focussed on just one thing: going home with all three points. We are desperate for a good run and a win today will reconnect us with the top five/four. Arsenal (22 games, 39 points) are at least five points behind fourth place (Pool, on 44 points, are playing Citeh later today).
With all the transfer window shenanigans going on this month and that substantial risk of getting (too) far behind the top four, it feels like today’s match is both critical and pivotal for the team and manager. It will be a test of character and pride in the shirt, no doubt.
We all know that Arsene and the team are struggling to get the balance right between defending and attacking. We let too many in and have been far too nice to the nets of the opposing teams. With Mustafi back in defence we now have a better chance of keeping it clean at the back, although we will still be without Nacho and Koz… but it is up front where we have real concerns. Lacazette has not scored for a while and the TEAM has to work a lot harder to bring him into scoring positions. The fab Frenchman could not work any harder for the team and now it is time to realise that Alex, not Alexis, is our main goal-threat. Wenger had this to say about Lacazette on Arsenal.com:
“Everybody goes through that spell. Alexandre Lacazette is a real team player and if he continues to give to the team what he’s giving at the moment, the team will give it back to him. At some stage, he will score very quickly. But because he’s not used to that, at the moment it’s a bit difficult for him to bear that, but I’m not worried about it, honestly.”
I reckon, we need ‘the team to give it back to him’ right here and now, and a tactical adjustment is required. Unfortunately, we have both too many good players (Giroud, Rambo) injured and back up players hopelessly out of form (Welbeck, Walcott and Iwobi); so Wenger has only a few options right now. I expect this to be Alexis’ last game in the mighty red and white, as Wenger has no option but to play him today and then to sell him for good money and go and get a replacement in time.
This is the predicted line-up:
Ozil is a doubt and hopefully he plays. If not, it will have to be Iwobi. Time for some determined cherry-picking and to take back three points to the home of football. Sorry nice man Eddie.