The holidays have passed, which means it’s time to get back to the normal routine. It’s no longer acceptable to eat 15 cookies and two pieces of chocolate cake with a glass a milk. Not that I’d do that anyway… but, if I did, which I wouldn’t, I’d stop now that the new year is upon us.
With the new year comes more Arsenal football, the hope of a lengthy winning streak, healthy players, an EPL title, and wishes that Silent Stan sells his shares. All of that is likely not going to happen, but I’ll take all, even if Kroenke sticks around a little longer.
2017 is already off to a great start, and three points on Tuesday could make it even better.
If Giroud’s goal didn’t put you in the greatest mood on Sunday, you may not have a pulse. Or, you’re an anti-Arsenal fan with the rest of the damn world. Seems they really are the club everyone loves to hate.
Proof of that is a buddy of mine.
While my cousin supports Liverpool, and my brother in-law and two close friends support United, I also have a handful of plastic friends. Yes, you guessed it. They jumped on that big and beautiful yacht provided by Abramovich as soon as they could. Now, they’ve been Chelsea supporters since their diaper days.
But, then I have a buddy who says this, and I quote.
Chelsea has my fav player on it. Man U has Mou, Liverpool is fun to watch cuz of the goals, Arsenal, well I don’t really like them lol. Spu*s well, Luis is a Spu*s fan and I like to make fun of him. City has the best talent but sucks. Great fu**ing league man.
So, let’s get this straight. You don’t have a preferred club in England, but for whatever reason, you don’t like Arsenal. Makes total sense right?! Like I said, the club people love to hate.
But, back to the regularly scheduled program.
A win on Sunday was a great way to start the year, and they didn’t concede. There were a few minutes in the second half where things looked suspect at the back, but they managed to weather the storm.
They’ll be up against another storm on Tuesday. This time, the leader of this storm could be on the shortlist of managers to succeed Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. Yes, I’m talking about Eddie Howe, which, you should have already known.
Going through an inconsistent campaign, the Cherries are still in the top half of the table. They are ninth, but they have yet to win successive matches this season. Seeing as they are coming off an emphatic victory at the Liberty Stadium which sent Bob Bradley back to the United States, that should mean a victory isn’t on the cards for them on Tuesday. Right?!
Well, a draw also isn’t an option. Arsenal needs all three points.
Dating back to 1987, Arsenal have won all four meetings against the Cherries. Along the way, they’ve scored 10 goals and only conceded one, which was earlier this season at the Emirates. Another cleansheet would be fantastic, but with less than two full days of rest since their last match, tired legs could play a big part.
Who Will We See
It’s only fitting that we start off by saying that it’s a great thing that Jack Wilshere will not be featuring again. For those who have followed Bournemouth this season, and I have as much as possible, Jack has been in fantastic form. His performance against Chelsea was great. It’s promising to see him getting a solid run of games, without any injuries. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if fit, I think he’s the best midfielder England has, and arguably one of the best in the world. But, that’s all dependent on his health. So far, so good. Hopefully he keeps it up and returns to Arsenal next season full of confidence.
On the Arsenal side of the ball, Mustafi is likely coming back into the team. He was available on Sunday, but didn’t come off the bench, which wasn’t surprising.
Having just come back from a hamstring injury, having proper squad depth allowed for the German international to not be thrown straight into the chaos. Will he start against Bournemouth? It’s possible, but I guess that all depends on if Arsene Wenger thinks he’s 100%. If he’s not, I’d be ok with Gabriel alongside Koscielny.
Going forward, we are likely going to see some more changes.
Ozil is still apparently sick, laying in bed, watching cartoons and eating soup. So, Arsene Wenger should deploy Alex Iwobi in that #10 role again.
I was actually very impressed with the young Nigerian on Sunday. Going forward he looked much better, and defensively, he put in a shift. He did more defending against Crystal Palace, than he has all season while playing out wide. After the match he did say he feels more comfortable down the middle. I too prefer him down the middle because at least there he helps defensively, while on the wing, he can’t even spell defense.
With Elneny on his way to the African Cup of Nations, Coquelin is likely to start along side Xhaka, who has really settled in over the last month. Watching him spray the ball around the pitch is fantastic. Makes it look so easy.
Aaron Ramsey could also be in the discussion to start in the midfield with Xhaka, but, away from home, I think Coquelin is the safer bet to start. Let the Frenchman do the dirty work defensively, and allow Xhaka to dictate play going forward. With Rambo in there, Xhaka has to be more defensive, and while he is capable of playing that role, given his current form, I’d rather Xhaka be more offensive minded.
On the wings, Alexis is obviously going to keep his spot, but it looks like Ox could come back into the starting XI to replace Lucas Perez.
He got the start on Sunday, and I don’t think he was all that bad. He broke up the play at the edge of our box which led to Giroud’s wonder goal. He worked hard on that right side with Bellerin, and although he didn’t do anything that was outstanding, he also didn’t make any mistakes. It would be disappointing to see Lucas relegated to the bench again considering he should be allowed the same opportunities Ox and even Iwobi have had out wide.
Up front, Oli The Scorpion Giroud! Nothing else needs to be said!
For all I know, Arsene Wenger is going to put a major twist in the lineup, and will completely stump us all. Hopefully not.
Need To Keep Pace
When you drop points and your direct opponents don’t, that sucks. Away losses to City and Everton sucked! Watching our rivals gain points on us or pull further ahead, sucked.
With Liverpool having dropped points, and a London Derby at Sh*t Hart Lane on Wednesday, Arsenal needs these three points. They will be able to cut the distance to Liverpool, while if Wednesday’s result is a draw, they will also cut down Chelsea’s advantage. This isn’t a sprint, so they need to keep chipping away. Chelsea will drop points, but we need to make sure we do our part.
These are the fixtures that need to be won. Yes, it’s a quick turnaround from Sunday’s match, but that’s why you prepare the squad with the proper depth. Everyone needs to do their job, and against Bournemouth, they need to do just that. Not only should it be three points, but it will also put pressure on Chelsea & Spu*s. Our shadow won’t want to drop points and see us pull further ahead, and Conte won’t want to see his advantage cut short.
Eddie Howe will want to play an open style, as he generally does. While he can tighten things up defensively, he’s not going to put 11 guys behind the ball. Therefore, the Cherries are an opponent that fit into Arsenal’s style of play. With that said, hopefully they watched the Bournemouth – Liverpool match. These guys will not put their head down and sulk, regardless if you’re up by two or three.
Arsenal needs to come out with the same attitude and intensity they did against Crystal Palace, control the play, and move the ball. They need to take their opportunities because you know Afobe is going to be a physical presence. The former Arsenal striker is going to be a handful for Koscielny and whoever plays alongside him. If the Gunners aren’t mentally prepared, Bournemouth plays a style of football which is easy on the eye, it will lift the players, as well as the crowd. Arsenal need to avoid that.
Anything but three points could make for difficult conversations after the match. Would failure to win really put Arsenal’s title chances to bed?