By Bulldog Drummond
The key thinking ahead of this game as far as the media is concerned – or at least the media that bother to look at such things – is that Bournemouth have a host of injuries and Arsenal don’t. There’s not too much on exactly how this is going to help Arsenal, for as the Express says “Arsenal must exploit these injury woes”, suggesting they don’t know that much either.
Second, everyone is looking towards the Tottenham game. There’s nothing that I can see in the media about how it is Tottenham’s home form, not their away form, that is the problem, and thus that could be an advantage to us, but a lot about saving players for the match. Again the Express is full of advice with “do not expect the likes of Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette or Aaron Ramsey to play over 70 minutes.”
So there is an awareness that we next play Tottenham and Manchester United, but not that much awareness that these are the only two games we play in March in the League. The other two games are in the Europa.
But there is a creeping awareness of the fact that our home form remains excellent (as the BBC note, “only Manchester City have taken more points at home.”) No one really wants to engage in why the home form is a lot better than the away, but at least noting the home form is a start.
Eddie Howe at Bournemouth has said that their bad run must stop and that they can get dragged into the relegation battle… what with 11 defeats and just four wins and a draw in the last 16 league games. And their next game is against Manchester City at the weekend, so maybe they too will be saving energy for the next one.
However Bournemouth have eight consecutive away defeats, conceding at least two goals in each game. It is apparently a club record for the Premier League, although apparently they did once go 11 matches between December 1933 and May 1934 in the Third Division South.
The BBC is calling this one in advance as 2-0 to Arsenal, which would be fine, although I would love to see some more goals notched up give the closeness of the race for fourth…
The goal differences in 4th, 5th and 6th as you can see are 18, 17, 16 and this is a chance to give us a fraction more light, ahead of Manchester United and Chelsea. That we have won the four games against Bournemouth at home by a total of 11-1 suggests we might manage more than two.
And while pondering this there is the fact that we have just won seven consecutive Premier League games at home, starting with the 4-2 win over Tottenham. Plus here is one more, this from the BBC: “The Gunners have gone two years without losing a Premier League home fixture against a team from outside the established top six since a 2-1 defeat by Watford on 31 January 2017.”
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And another: “They could keep consecutive Premier League clean sheets for the first time since September.”
And one more for good luck, “Alexandre Lacazette could become the first Arsenal player to score in five consecutive Premier League home matches since Robin van Persie from December 2011 to March 2012.”
Meanwhile, as usual the media is having a bash at guessing who is going to play in the game tonight. The Express offers us
Mustafi, Sokratis, Koscielny;
Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Torreira, Kolasinac;
As for our new man, the Star tells us that “Unai Emery has admitted that Denis Suarez is still not ready to play an entire 90-minute match.”
Arsenal Fever make the point about not wanting anyone injured or tired going into the Tottenham game. and so go with
Maitland Niles, Koscielny, Sokratis, Monreal
Pain in the Arsenal drop Maitland Niles to ensure he works his way back from injury gently and instead give us
Musfati Koscielny Soktratis Monreal
Mkhitaryan Ozil Suarez
Meanwhile Football Talk has
Maitland-Niles, Soktratis, Koscielny Kolasinac
Mkhitaryan Ozil Aubameyang