The Big Match Tactical View: Bournemouth v Arsenal
It's sixth v fifth going into the Premier League weekend. Michael Cox looks at the tactical battle and Alan Thompson provides the betting expertise.
"Callum Wilson, fresh from a goal on his England debut, will lead the line but might drop into deeper positions to tempt Arsenal’s centre-backs up the pitch"
Bournemouth v Arsenal
Sunday 13:30, Sky Sports 1
Match Odds: Bournemouth [3.7], Arsenal [2.0], The Draw [3.9]
Arsenal and Bournemouth have both stuttered over the last couple of games, but both will nevertheless be content with their start to the campaign. Arsenal start the game one place and four points, ahead of Eddie Howe's outfit and are favourites for this Sunday afternoon contest.
Bournemouth likely to start well
It's Bournemouth though, who might make the early running. Unai Emery has constantly complained about his side's sluggish starts to matches, which has usually involved them going in goalless at half-time before winning the game in the second half, although last time against Wolves they merely converted a losing situation into a draw. Lucas Torreira's form has been very impressive, but he's not yet dictating play from the outset.
That means Bournemouth have an opportunity to set the tempo of this game and come flying out of the blocks, as they did in the recent narrow home defeat to Manchester United, when Jose Mourinho's side could barely get out of their half in the opening 25 minutes. Lewis Cook has been performing well in recent weeks, and will be important as Bournemouth attempt to put themselves on the front foot.
Fraser and Brooks will cause problems
The real danger men for Howe's side, however, are their two drifting playmakers. Ryan Fraser has been in exceptional form on the left, drifting inside to launch counter-attacks, create from between the lines and provide a goal. David Brooks, meanwhile, will probably start as a number 10 if Howe goes with 4-4-1-1, or on the right if it's 3-4-2-1, and varies his position intelligently to combine with Fraser and the other attackers.
Callum Wilson, fresh from a goal on his England debut, will lead the line but might drop into deeper positions to tempt Arsenal's centre-backs up the pitch.
Shkodran Mustafi, in particular, still gets dragged out of position far too easily and leaves space for opponents to break into. Howe might select a fourth attacker - Jordan Ibe started wide-right last weekend against Newcastle - but the 3-4-2-1 worked excellently in a counter-attacking victory over a possession-based Fulham side recently, and he might opt for the same approach here.
Arsenal not yet fluent under Emery
Emery, meanwhile, is probably still trying to find the right balance in midfield and attack. Alexandre Lacazette has established himself as Arsenal's first-choice upfront and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will probably drift inside into goalscoring positions from the left. But Mesut Ozil has only recently been deployed in a central number 10 position having previously started on the right, and now has a question about who to play on the right.
Alex Iwobi made a good start to the season on the left but looks less comfortable on the opposite flank, and Emery prefers using someone who can drift inside to create space for Hector Bellerin, who has arguably been Arsenal's most consistent attacking force this season. Henrikh Mkhitaryan will probably get the nod, but do him and Ozil work together in the same side?
Arsenal have options to change the game from the bench, with Aaron Ramsey proving a useful supersub so far this season. But I think Bournemouth will start this game strongly, and I'll back them to be 1-0 up at half-time at [3.7].
The Betfair Trader - Alan Thompson
Although unbeaten in their last 16 games in all competitions, the Gunners have drawn their last three in the league and that's enough for them to slip eight points behind league leaders Manchester City. They will be desperate to end that draw sequence against Eddie Howe’s Cherries but the hosts are not going to be easy to beat, sitting just four points behind them in a lofty sixth place.
Bournemouth have lost their last two in the league including losing their last home game to a late Manchester United winner but they haven’t lost successive home games since August 2017.
Bournemouth have failed to score in only one of their last eight games in all competitions and as Arsenal have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last five Premier League games there is every chance we could see a few goals here. Unfortunately, the market has also recognised this and Over 2.5 goals is trading as low as [1.54].
I think Arsenal might just have too much for Bournemouth on the day and will back them to win, but I suspect they will have to score at least twice to do so. Therefore, I will be backing Arsenal/Yes in the Match Odds and Both Teams To Score market at around [3.5].
Michael: Back Bournemouth 1-0 at half-time @ [3.7]
Alan: Back Arsenal/Yes in the Match Odds/Both Teams To Score market at around [3.5]