The month of November started off emphatically, with Arsenal coming from behind against Ludogorets in Bulgaria. A two goal deficit on the first of November brought back frustrating memories. We had all seen this before.
Somehow, some way, Arsenal clawed their way back. A victory to start the month of November looked promising. Were they finally going to bury the dreaded November conversation? One could only hope.
Since then, three consecutive draws have Arsenal supporters fearing the worst. Meanwhile, all footy pundits and those who love to hate the Gunners are relishing the moment.
They are all waiting for Arsenal to slip up against Bournemouth on Sunday so they could headline their articles with; Same Old Arsenal.
Well, I’m hopeful that the lads can finish the month the same way it began. But, I’d prefer them not concede a two goal lead to the Cherries. I can’t deal with having to watch another comeback, nor am I confident they could pull it off at the moment.
Instead, how about a confident start, something they’ve lacked in their previous three.
Against Spu*s they looked nervous, almost as if they were more focused on not losing, than wanting to win. At Old Trafford, they had a decent first half, but then were completely against the ropes. Fortunately a bullet header from the bearded beauty saved the day.
On Wednesday against PSG, again, looked complacent to start. Giroud’s equalizing goal from the spot gave them some confidence in the second half. They were pressing the ball and looked more lively.
That’s what they are going to need against a Bournemouth side who play attacking football.
Who Will We See
As has been the case the last few weeks, the back four essentially picks itself. Bellerin is still out, and although there are other options like Coquelin who can play on the right, Jenkinson is the likely candidate.
Having said that, I know he’s passionate and will work his socks off, but, he’s far from Arsenal material.
Every time he touches the ball, I want to cover my eyes. I’m not sure what to expect from him. He always looks incredibly nervous, and I think the spotlight of a club like Arsenal coupled with replacing Bellerin is making things real difficult for him.
Maybe a meeting with the Cherries at the Emirates can help settle the nerves? In his defense, from his four appearances this month, three have been against Spu*s, United and PSG. So I guess we can cut him some slack, but I expect much better on Sunday.
Down the middle of the park is where Arsene Wenger will once again have a headache.
Will he keep Granit Xhaka on the bench? Opting to start Coquelin, Ramsey and or Elneny?
I sure hope he gives Xhaka an opportunity here. Against an opponent who will open up, Xhaka can give the midfield that perfect balance. While having Ramsey alongside him could offer some offensive creativity, but the Welshman will need to be much better than his stats have shown.
Theo Walcott should come back into the starting XI, but on the other side, will we see Alexis with Giroud up top? Or will Wenger go with someone like Iwobi or Ox, and Alexis leading the line?
Le Prof has a tough decision to make here. Giroud has been in great form, while Alexis has dropped a bit. While we understand it all looks beautiful and pacey with Alexis up top, Wenger needs to ride the hot hand.
I’d play Alexis out wide seeing as he may not have to defend as much given Bournemouth’s style of play.
Either way, regardless of who leads the line, Arsenal need to score first. Three consecutive draws have been a cause for concerning whispers. Conceding first would make things real tense around the Emirates.
Let’s Keep Streaking
Undefeated in their last 18 has felt less exciting given their last three results and performances. They seem to be missing that cutting edge which Santi Cazorla offers, yet no one else has been able to reproduce.
Wenger has tried all sorts of partnerships, to no avail. I bet he wishes he had Jack Wilshere in the squad right now. He’d be perfect to fill in Santi’s shoes. Someone who can drop deep and carry the team forward. But, he’s gaining match fitness at Bournemouth, and probably fortunate for Arsenal, he won’t be able to take part in this match.
From their previous meetings with Bournemouth (three), the Gunners have come out on top every time, scoring seven and not conceding.
In this fixture last season, the hosts came away with a 2-0 victory, courtesy of goals from Gabriel and Ozil. This time around, Gabriel is unlikely to feature, at least from the start, but it would be nice to see Ozil on the scoresheet again. Better yet, I’ll even take an assist, or simply a better performance than his last three.
Wakey Wakey Ozil!
Even with three questionable performances in a row, Arsenal have managed to get something out of each match. In the past, these were the ones where they’d completely suck, and come away with zero points. While I agree three from a possible nine points isn’t great, it’s not like they drew against Sunderland, Swansea or Hull.
The lads will know that this is the opportunity to finish the month with three very important points. Victory on Sunday keeps them three points back of Conte’s army, and with a hectic holiday schedule coming up, they desperately need to stay within striking distance.
A positive start is a must, or else the supporters will get restless. Arsenal struggles when the supporters are on their back, so how about you avoid that please?!
I’m going to say that Arsenal will be too much to handle for Bournemouth.
Eddie Howe is a great young manager, and having been linked as the potential successor of Arsene Wenger, this is almost like an interview. He will not want to alter his style. Free flowing offensive footy is Eddie’s way, and that should benefit the Gunners, or at least I hope.