Sep 9, 2017 at 3pm UK at ​Emirates Stadium
Attendance: 59,262
Arsenal
3-0
Bournemouth
Welbeck (6', 50'), Lacazette (28')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Francis (77')

Preview: Arsenal vs. Bournemouth

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between under-fire Arsenal and pointless Bournemouth at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal will be bidding to bounce back from consecutive defeats when they host Bournemouth at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

The Gunners have picked up just three points from their opening three Premier League matches, although they remain better off than Bournemouth, who are still looking for their first point of the season.


Arsenal

Arsene Wenger pats Alexis Sanchez on the back during the Premier League game between Liverpool and Arsenal on August 27, 2017© Offside

Younger Arsenal fans may not believe it, but there was a time when everything Arsene Wenger touched turned to gold.

Those days will feel like a lifetime ago for the majority of Arsenal fans, though, not to mention the man himself as he faces intense scrutiny just three matches into the season.

Calls for the long-serving Frenchman to step down usually increase in volume as the season progresses, but they have almost hit fever pitch already this term following the Gunners' embarrassing capitulation at the hands of Liverpool before the international break.

Club legends who owe a great deal of their success to Wenger have joined the voices asking whether it is time for the 67-year-old to call it a day, just a few months after he signed a new two-year deal with Arsenal.

The frustration for years has been a sense of Groundhog Day at the club, but things seem to have become even worse now. Arsenal are on a downward trajectory, having missed out on the Champions League last season and lost two of their opening three games this term.

The nature of the Liverpool defeat would have been heavily - and rightly - criticised at any point of the season, but coming after another loss at the hands of Stoke City only served to exacerbate the dismay which many associated with the club must be feeling.

There was more misery during the international break too as Wenger missed out on Thomas Lemar, despite tabling a £92m deadline-day bid which some say was a sign of the club's ambition and others claim was a desperate effort to improve what already looks like a crisis.

One positive is that Alexis Sanchez stayed as a result of that move breaking down, but the Chilean will need to show the manager and fans that he is willing to fight for the team until at least January having missed out on the move he wanted.

Defeat on Saturday would mark three consecutive Premier League losses for the first time since January 2012, and with champions Chelsea awaiting at Stamford Bridge next weekend - after a Europa League clash with Koln in midweek - it would plunge Arsenal into even deeper trouble at this early stage of the season.

There are reasons to be optimistic, though; Arsenal have won their last six Premier League home games and have only lost one of their last 19 since the opening day of the 2016-17 season.

The most recent of those was the 4-3 win over Leicester City on the opening day of this campaign, which currently provides a less-than-convincing source for Arsenal's only points so far.

Recent form: WLL
Recent form (all competitions): WWLL


Bournemouth

Eddie Howe looks downbeat during the Premier League game between Bournemouth and Watford on August 19, 2017© Offside

Bournemouth have done a good job of keeping themselves at arm's length of trouble since their 2015 promotion to the Premier League, but Eddie Howe will be all too aware that the competition continues to get harder each and every season.

After three games of this season the Cherries find themselves in the relegation zone as one of three teams yet to pick up a point, although it is not a completely alien situation for them.

Bournemouth have lost their opening two games in both of their previous top-flight campaigns and gone on to survive relatively comfortably, so Howe will not be worrying too much just yet despite a growing desire to get those first points on the board.

The Cherries were seconds away from breaking the duck before the international break when they welcomed Manchester City to the Vitality Stadium, but they were denied an impressive draw at the death by a 97th-minute winner from Raheem Sterling.

In truth, Howe may not have expected much from the double-header against City and Arsenal either side of the international break, but that would have made the defeats to West Bromwich Albion and Watford in the opening two matches of the campaign even harder to take.

As it happens, Bournemouth will feel that this could be a good time to face Arsenal, although they have only won one of their 10 Premier League away games so far in 2016 - a run which includes a 4-0 defeat in North London at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur last season.

A home outing against Brighton & Hove Albion is next up for Bournemouth after this, but despite that looking like a kind match on paper it is a difficult period of fixtures for the Cherries. Including the game against Man City last time out, Bournemouth will face five of last season's top seven in the space of just eight matches.

Things do get easier after that, but Bournemouth will need to pick up the occasional points here and there during the tricky spell if they are to avoid getting cut adrift in the opening months of the season.

If one or three of those come at the Emirates Stadium then it will almost be like a bonus for Howe's side, who have only lost four consecutive matches on two occasions since their promotion to the top flight.

Recent form: LLL
Recent form (all competitions): LLWL


Team News

Arsene Wenger gestures next to Alexis Sanchez during the Premier League game between Liverpool and Arsenal on August 27, 2017© SilverHub

Wenger will be forced into at least one change from the humiliation at Anfield after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's deadline-day switch to Liverpool.

Indeed, the Frenchman may look to send a message by making sweeping changes to the side, and the likes of Alexandre Lacazette, Shkodran Mustafi and Saed Kolasinac will all be pushing for a recall.

Plenty of eyes will be on Sanchez after he was kept at the club against his will, but the Chilean is a minor doubt and will undergo a fitness test following his return from international duty.

Aaron Ramsey and David Ospina will also need to prove their fitness, while Wenger could include Jack Wilshere on the bench as he continues his recovery from injury.

Alex Iwobi and Calum Chambers are also expected to be in contention, leaving Santi Cazorla as Arsenal's only remaining injury concern.

Bournemouth could be without Simon Francis due to a thigh injury, but Benik Afobe, Nathan Ake and Junior Stanislas should be available following recent injury troubles.

Callum Wilson remains sidelined for the Cherries, though, which is likely to mean that former Tottenham man Jermain Defoe retains his place up front alongside Joshua King.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Cech; Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil, Lacazette, Sanchez

Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Begovic; Smith, Cook, Ake, Mings, Daniels; Gosling, Surman, Arter; King, Defoe


Head To Head

These two sides have met on just five previous occasions, and Arsenal remain unbeaten against the Cherries with four wins and a draw in that time.

The most recent meeting did see Bournemouth avoid defeat against the Gunners for the first time, although Howe's side threw away the chance to claim all three points when they let a three-goal lead slip in the final 20 minutes of their eventual 3-3 draw.

Bournemouth have lost all three of their previous away games against Arsenal, conceding eight goals and scoring just once in the process.


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We say: Arsenal 2-0 Bournemouth

Arsenal are a club in desperate need of something to cheer and, while Bournemouth have the tools to pile more misery onto the Gunners, right now they look like an ideal opponent to stop the rot at the Emirates Stadium. Wenger has had plenty of time to examine the Liverpool debacle and both he and the supporters inside the stadium will demand a reaction from the players.


Who will win Saturday's Premier League clash between Arsenal and Bournemouth at the Emirates Stadium?

Arsenal
Draw
Bournemouth
Arsenal
58.8%
Draw
23.5%
Bournemouth
17.6%
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger during the Premier League match against Southampton on May 10, 2017
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