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Dec 26, 2019 at 3pm UK at Dean Court
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Preview: Bournemouth vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of the Premier League fixture between Bournemouth and Arsenal on Boxing Day.

Mikel Arteta takes charge of his first game as Arsenal manager looking to move his new side into the top half of the Premier League standings.

Despite a dismal run of their own in recent weeks, Bournemouth welcome the Gunners on Boxing Day just four points adrift of their opponents.

Match preview

Manchester City assistant coach Mikel Arteta before the match on November 30, 2019© Reuters

With all of the talk and speculation now out of the way, Arteta can focus on life as Arsenal boss, and his first task will be to get points on the board by any means necessary.

There is the perception that the Spaniard, having worked with Pep Guardiola for over three years at Manchester City, will quickly look to instil his philosophy on a squad of players who have largely played without confidence since the beginning of October.

However, while changes are expected in the short term, Arteta will view the double-header against Bournemouth and Chelsea as an opportunity to motivate his team into delivering a committed display for a match in its entirely, rather than various periods of a game.

While watching from the stands at Everton on Saturday afternoon, Arteta would have been relatively pleased with what he was witnessing, regardless of an obvious lack of threat in the final third.

Despite drawing a blank for the second game in succession, Arsenal kept their first clean sheet in the Premier League since October 6, taking their tally to just three for the season.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring for Arsenal on December 1, 2019© Reuters

The objective now will be to build on the foundations that were laid during the clash at Goodison Park, which were epitomised by several crucial blocks made during the closing stages on Merseyside.

At the other end of the pitch, however, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was not at his best, and this game throws up the possibility of Alexandre Lacazette being brought back into the starting lineup.

The Gabon international has scored just once in his last four starts in the top flight, while his strike partner has only played 12 minutes of football since netting four times from as many outings.

Goals have also proven to be an issue for Bournemouth in recent weeks, with just one being recorded in their last six hours of football.

That came during the closing stages against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, earning Eddie Howe's side an important 1-0 win, but defeats have come in each of the other six matches played since November 9.

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe watches on on November 9, 2019© Reuters

Due to their strong opening to the season, Bournemouth just about remain out of trouble, although there is now an urgency to have a productive Christmas period to avoid becoming embroiled in a relegation battle.

After losing 1-0 to Burnley at the weekend in a game which included just one shot on target, Howe now has to decide whether to throw a bit more caution to the wind against a team who have their own frailties.

Howe, himself, has insisted that the club have a duty to entertain their supporters, and it would come as a surprise if Callum Wilson was not recalled to the starting lineup.

Despite having gone almost three months without finding the back of the net, Bournemouth are unlikely to make progress up the standings until the England international has ended his 10-match streak without a goal.

That said, given an injury crisis which continues to mount, Howe needs to find some sort of balance over the Christmas period, with a trip to Brighton & Hove Albion to follow two days later.

The schedule and lack of available players may dictate a change in system for Bournemouth, but that arguably should not be perceived as a negative given that it worked against Chelsea earlier this month.

Bournemouth Premier League form: LLLLWL

Arsenal Premier League form: DDLWLD
Arsenal form (all competitions): DLWDLD

Team News

Calum Chambers in action for Arsenal on July 28, 2019© Reuters

As a result of Calum Chambers serving a one-match ban, Sokratis Papastathopoulos should return to the centre of defence.

The lack of recognised left-back should see Bukayo Saka continue to deputise in the position, with the only other changes potentially coming in attack.

Reiss Nelson and Aubameyang could drop down to the substitutes' bench, leaving Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette to come into the team.

With Diego Rico not available due to a one-match suspension, Jack Simpson may fill in at left-back for Bournemouth.

Harry Wilson remains doubtful with a dead leg, meaning that Ryan Fraser and Josh King could occupy the wide roles.

Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Ramsdale; Stacey, Francis, Mepham, Simpson; Cook, Lerma, Billing; Fraser, King; C.Wilson

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Chambers, Sokratis, Luiz, Maitland-Niles; Torreira, Xhaka, Guendouzi; Pepe, Lacazette, Saka

Head To Head

Thursday's fixture represents just the 11th competitive encounter between the two sides, with Arsenal having recorded eight wins in comparison to just one victory for Bournemouth.

The sole success for the Cherries came via a 2-1 scoreline at their home ground in January 2018, with the Gunners registering three successive triumphs since that contest.

Arsenal prevailed in last season's corresponding game after an own goal from Jefferson Lerma and a second-half effort from Aubameyang.

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We say: Bournemouth 1-2 Arsenal

While this is a difficult match to predict, we feel that this could be the perfect game for Arteta to get a win on the board. Bournemouth will always be dangerous in front of their own fans, but we are backing Arsenal to grind out a narrow triumph.

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Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe pictured on December 7, 2019
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Eddie Howe calls for Bournemouth to entertain fans against Arsenal

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