The Gunners blitzed Leicester City last weekend 4-2 to carry on their terrific form into the new season, in which Gabriel Jesus scored his first competitive goals in an Arsenal shirt, in what was a man of the match performance at the Emirates.
A depleted Bournemouth were on the end of a 4-0 hammering against Premier League champions Manchester City at the Etihad, a result which Scott Parker will most likely place at the back of his mind already as his side aim to get back to winning ways after their impressive opening day victory over Aston Villa.
While a return home may help their cause, but this one is against the in-form Arsenal, who currently sit second in the early Premier League table. So soon after facing champions Manchester City, lining up against the Gunners is probably not what manager Scott Parker would have preferred, but this is the English top flight and these difficult tasks are arguably handed out every week.
The Cherries have been rather quiet in the summer transfer window with Argentine centre-back Marcos Senesi coming in from Feyenoord and midfielder Marcus Tavernier joining from Middlesborough have only been the big acquisitions so far, and it will not be surprising to see them recruiting some new faces before the window call close at the end of this month.
Defeat to the Premier League champions is no shame at all, in fact, Parker did have injury trouble before the game and will be hoping to have some of his stars back to full fitness against the Gunners. Key stars such as Dominic Solanke, Kieffer Moore, Lloyd Kelly, Lewis Cook, Chris Mepham and Jefferson Lerma will be extremely vital to Bournemouth’s chances this season, and of course, at the Vitality is where Parker will be expecting to pick up most of his points, so the Cherries will need massive support from their fans starting on Saturday against a rampant Arsenal side.
We are probably seeing some of the best football Arsenal have mustered under Mikel Arteta’s tenure and that’s down to the tremendous attention to detail coaching of the Spaniard, as seen in the club’s emotionally driven All or Nothing Amazon series, but also the club board deserve immense credit for backing the manager with the players he needs to take them forward.
Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko have given everyone associated with the club some new found belief, confidence and aura that could well push them into a Champions League finish come the end of the campaign. For the Gunners to achieve, they will need to improve on their consistency, especially against teams down at the bottom and a tough trip to the Vitality is the perfect start for them to be tested.
That’s why they’ve gone out and bought Jesus and Zinchenko, valuable Premier League experience, title-winning qualities that could lift them up in adversity.
Arsenal’s attacking play so far this campaign is gaining plenty of plaudits and rightly so, with the Gunners firing in six goals across their opening two fixtures. Some of the football played against Leicester City last weekend was spell-binding and the kind of tonic they would need if they are to achieve greatness in this campaign.
Their form so far has already led many neutral fans to suggest that the Gunners could actually be the surprise package when it comes to a Premier League title challenge. As lofty as that prediction may seem, we’ve seen stranger things happen in what is arguably the best league in the world.
Bournemouth are winless across their last five meetings with Arsenal so will certainly need to be at their perfect best to stop this from becoming something of a foregone conclusion.
WHERE AND WHEN?
Venue: Vitality Stadium.
Date: Saturday, 20th August 2022.
Time: 17:30PM (BST).
Referee: Craig Pawson
Assistant referee: Marc Perry, Scott Ledger.
Fourth official: Graham Scott.
VAR: Paul Tierney.
Assistant VAR: Dan Robathan.
Dominic Solanke is a doubt for the Cherries after he missed last weekend’s defeat at the Etihad with an ankle injury. While Scott Parker doesn’t believe his issue will keep him sidelined for long, it’ll likely see him miss Saturday’s game.
Jordan Zemura could return after recovering from COVID-19, but Ryan Fredericks (lower leg) and Joe Rothwell (thigh) remain out due to their respective injuries. David Brooks remains a long-term absentee.
The Gunners’ clean bill of health was ruined by Reiss Nelson’s injury in the build-up to last Saturday’s triumph. The winger is expected to miss the next couple of months with a muscle injury.
Both Fabio Vieira and Emile Smith Rowe returned to some sort of action for the Arsenal U21 side against Swansea after respective injuries and could both be in contention from the bench this weekend.
It will be intriguing to see how Bournemouth approach this test. The Cherries looked to have found their go-to formula in the 3-4-3 formation which means they can enjoy much flexibility both in attack and defence. Scott Parker’s team had the best defence in the Championship last season, lost the fewest games and trailed for the shortest time of any team. Exactly half of their games contained two goals or fewer, so if neutral fans are expecting the expansive football Eddie Howe brought to the club during his tenure then they have got another thing coming.
Parker will be aiming to set up his team in a way that is tough to beat, but sitting back and soaking pressure at times may not be the best option, especially against a Arsenal side that now possesses players who can unlock sturdy defences at an alarming rate. Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli, the list goes on. Bournemouth will need to approach this test with some street smartness, knowing when to sit back, when to break, but also when to press a Gunners side who are also well versed in building from the back.
Without Dominic Solanke, it may be harder for the Cherries to get the ball up the pitch as quickly as they want to, and that’s a huge blow considering the power and speed the former Liverpool man offers them in abundance. It will be a huge job for Kieffer Moore going up against the impressive partnership of William Saliba and Gabriel to hold up the ball and get his attacking partners involved.
For Bournemouth to get any kind of result, it will certainly derive from a perfect home performance or the Gunners having an off day, and with the way Arteta has set them up in his incredibly fluid 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 setup and their terrific form and confidence coming into this fixture, the latter is extremely unlikely.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
In the absence of both David Brooks and Dominic Solanke, Scott Parker will be heavily reliant on his creative outlets in Ryan Christie and Marcus Tavenier. It’s a big test for the latter, seeing as it is the first real Premier League test of his career for his new club.
His terrific performances for Middlesborough over the past few seasons in the Sky Bet Championship has certainly bore much fruit, registering 11 goals and 14 assists since the start of the 2019/20 campaign, making him one of the second division’s most prominent and decorated attacking midfielders. Certainly, he’s only joined the Cherries this summer, so he will of course need time to adapt and develop under Parker but also the onus is on the former Fulham coach to provide Tavernier with the room to express himself as he is of course the type of player that requires much tactical freedom to thrive.
While his brother James has been living it up on the European stage for Rangers, it is now Marcus’ turn to deliver on the big stage in the Premier League, and its an opportunity his unique talents deserve.
Incredibly skilful, blessed with wonderful vision, technical acumen, nimble footwork and tremendous versatility capable of playing in various roles within the attack and midfield, Tavernier will certainly be Parker’s swiss-army knife type player, and every team coming in from the Championship needs one of those.
Martinelli has started the 2022/23 campaign brilliantly. His goal against Leicester City last weekend – a wonderfully struck shot from all of about 20 yards – was his third in a row for the Gunners in the Premier League, the first time he has achieved such a feat in an Arsenal shirt.
It’s incredible that he only cost the Gunners a mere £6m when he joined from Brazilian outfit Ituano in July 2019, and has quickly become the Premier League’s most feared and decorated young attackers in the space of over 3 years. With his spot on the left-flank for Arteta all but guaranteed, this is indeed a big season for the 21-year-old as he is now a key member of this talented Arsenal side and a kind of player that the Gunners will need when the going gets tough.
His infectious work-rate, application, drive and hard work has endeared him to the Gunners faithful and his characteristic certainly embodies what Arsenal football club have been about throughout their history. Martinelli is a special player, one who’s talents and abilities in the final third can unlock even the meanest defences, so working alongside the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard means Arteta now possesses an attacking weaponry that even the most elite managers and teams on the continent would kill for.
With great talent comes greater responsibility and expectation, Arsenal will need Martinelli at his rampant best to deliver a top-four finish come the end of the campaign.
Bournemouth predicted XI vs Arsenal: Travers (GK); Mepham, Lerma, Kelly; Smith, Cook, Pearson, Stacey; Tavernier, Christie; Moore.
Arsenal predicted XI vs Bournemouth: Ramsdale (GK); White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Jesus.