So much for the International break, the Premier League returns this weekend as Arsenal host AFC Bournemouth on Saturday. Arsene Wenger is already under fierce pressure just three games into the new Premier League season.
Wenger and his squad have come under criticism from Arsenal fans and pundits alike after two defeats from their opening three matches, with the 4-0 defeat at Liverpool leaving the Gunners’ title hopes in severe doubt.
- Arsenal have won four of the five previous meetings, with the exception being January’s 3-3 draw at the Vitality Stadium – when the Gunners recovered from 3-0 down.
- Arsene Wenger’s side have won all three of their previous home games against the Cherries.
- The Gunners could lose three successive Premier League games for the first time since January 2012.
- However, they have won their last six league games at the Emirates, scoring a total of 15 goals.
- Arsenal have won their last 23 Premier League home matches against sides in the relegation zone since drawing 4-4 with Spurs in October 2008.
- They have conceded an average of 1.43 goals per league game in 2017, their highest rate in a calendar year since 1965.
- Defeat would leave Arsenal with their lowest ever points tally after four games of a Premier League season. A draw would represent their worst start since the 2011-12 campaign.
- Francis Coquelin could make his 100th Premier League appearance.
- The Cherries could lose their opening four games of a league campaign for only the third time in their history. The two previous occasions (in 1983 and 1994) were both in the third tier.
- Bournemouth are winless in their last six Premier League games in London, losing five of those matches.
- Jermain Defoe has failed to score in his last 10 league and cup appearances away to Arsenal, including all eight of his games at the Emirates Stadium.
- His only previous goal away to Arsenal came in West Ham’s 3-1 defeat at Highbury in January 2003.
- Eddie Howe’s five-year tenure at Bournemouth makes him the second longest-serving manager currently in charge of a Premier League club, behind Arsene Wenger (21 years).
(Stats Courtesy: BBC)
Bournemouth seem like perfect opponents for Arsenal given that Eddie Howe’s men sit in the bottom three without a point this term, but a last-gasp defeat to Manchester City last time out suggests the Cherries may provide a sterner test than first expected.
Wenger will have to alter his line-up following the£40million departure of Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool, but that should mean Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac are restored to their natural wing-back roles on the right and left flanks respectively.
The French man also has a big call to make over whether to persist with a 3-4-2-1 formation which was ripped apart at Anfield, or else revert to a four-man defence.
Sanchez, David Ospina and Aaron Ramsey all face fitness tests after returning from international duty. Wenger is also considering including Jack Wilshere in his squad, but says the midfielder still needs more fitness work.
One bright note for Wenger is that his squad is currently injury-free apart from Santi Cazorla, with the Spanish midfielder out until 2018.
For AFC Bournemouth, Benik Afobe and Nathan Ake should return from slight knocks, though Simon Francis is a doubt with a hamstring injury.
The failure to sign Thomas Lemar – plus Alex Oxlade Chamberlain’s Liverpool transfer and doubt over the futures of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil – have left the club in a state of flux following the end of the transfer window, but Wenger must set aside those problems and ensure the Gunners get back to winning ways at the Emirates.