Bournemouth v Arsenal: Expect an even first half on the south coast

Arsene Wenger will be hoping for a win to kickstart a top-four charge
Arsene Wenger will be hoping for a win to kickstart a top-four charge
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Jack Lang is expecting Saturday's game at the Vitality to be settled after the interval...

"Six of 11 Bournemouth home games have been level at the break, as have six of 11 Arsenal home games. That's 54% in each case, which provides us with an angle in a tough market"

Bournemouth v Arsenal
Sunday, 13:30
Live on Sky Sports Main Event

Entertainers under pressure

If there's one Premier League team, aside from Manchester City, who guarantee excitement at the moment, it is surely Bournemouth. Eddie Howe's men have certainly found an attacking groove - they have taken a whopping 69 shots in their last three league games alone - but they remain reliably shaky at the back too, their last clean sheet coming all the way back in November. Their last seven matches (all competitions) have produced 28 goals, so their fans are certainly getting their money's worth.

Not that they wouldn't exchange some of the chaos for a few boring wins, they've won just one win in ten, and in turn the Cherries have slipped to the brink of the relegation zone. Just a point separates them and Stoke, and in light of Mark Hughes' sacking, it's tempting to wonder how long it will be before Howe comes under serious pressure.

Wilshere boost for Gunners

The midweek League Cup stalemate with Chelsea will not live long in the memory, but it did serve a purpose for Arsenal, quickly drawing a line under that horror FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest. True, that's now four games without a win for the Gunners, but a draw at Stamford Bridge is always a good result and should mean they go into this game with confidence slightly restored.

The sight of Jack Wilshere limping off in that game will have sent shivers down the spines of Arsene Wenger and his staff, but the prognosis on that ankle injury appears fairly positive: the midfielder still has a chance of featuring against the club he played for on loan last term. Mesut Özil looks less likely to make it, but there could be a return for Aaron Ramsey, who has been out for a month with a hamstring problem.

Visitors too short to side with

Bournemouth have been among Arsenal's favourite opponents since their promotion to the top flight: the Gunners have won four of the five Premier League meetings between the sides. Even last season's 3-3 draw at the Vitality had the taste of victory for Wenger's side, given that the Cherries had led 3-0 with 70 minutes played.

Arsenal have not always been convincing on the road this season - three wins in 11 - but will surely see this as an opportunity to restore a bit of momentum in the chase for the top four. However, odds of [1.77] on the away win might look a bit skinny given Arsenal's injury worries, plus the continuing doubts over Alexis Sánchez's commitment to the cause.

Half-time opportunities

The goal markets are also tough to call here, with Bournemouth more than capable of shipping goals but Arsenal's potency is in question, especially in away games: take away the bizarre 5-2 success at Everton and they're averaging below one goal a game. So under 2.5 goals is tempting at [2.62], but then you wouldn't be that surprised if this ended 2-2 or 2-3.

A better option is backing the half-time draw at 5/2 on the Sportsbook. Six of 11 Bournemouth home games have been level at the break, as have six of 11 Arsenal home games. That's 54% in each case - significantly higher than the probability of 40% implied by the odds.

Take a chance on Ibe

The goalscorer market is fairly treacherous here: Bournemouth are without Jermain Defoe and Alexandre Lacazette is on a seven-game run without netting in the league. With so few obvious options, it may be worth taking a chance on Jordon Ibe, who is enjoying his run in the Bournemouth first team. The former Liverpool man has recorded 10 shots on target this season - more than any other player still waiting for his first goal - and can be backed at [5.6].

Jack Lang's Premier League P/L, 2017/18

Staked: 28pts
Returned: 33.1pts
P/L: +5.1pts

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