Mikel Arteta takes charge of his first game as Arsenal manager as Pep Guardiola’s former assistant looks to deliver us Gooners a late Christmas present when we travel to the south coast this afternoon.
Hosts Bournemouth have lost five of their last seven in the Premier League, only scoring five goals during this run too. We’re very much in need of a win if we’re to start dreaming about a top four finish again this season.
The new manager was in attendance during our 0-0 draw at Everton before Christmas but will have only had a couple of days of training to implement his tactics for this game. He’s also hindered by a few injuries.
The two teams for today’s game at the Vitality Stadium are as follows:
Bernd Leno; Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, David Luiz, Bukayo Saka; Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka; Reiss Nelson, Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; Alexandre Lacazette
Substitutes: Emi Martinez, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Shkodran Mustafi, Matteo Guendouzi, Joe Willock, Emile Smith Rowe, Nicolas Pepe
Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Bukayo Saka are in at full-back due to injuries to Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac. The former is a forward by nature so this is going to be a stern test for him and the experienced defenders around him.
It appears Lucas Torreira has been moved back into his natural holding role, alongside Granit Xhaka in a 4-2-3-1 formation. It could even be the 4-1-4-1 formation that Pep deploys at Manchester City, with the Swiss international alongside Mesut Ozil behind Alexandre Lacazette.
Reiss Nelson has been given the start down the right wing, despite Nicolas Pepe being available and among the substitutes. The bench also includes youngsters Konstantinos Mavropanos and Emile Smith Rowe.
Aaron Ramsdale; Jack Stacey, Steve Cook, Chris Mepham, Jack Simpson; Ryan Fraser, Jefferson Lerma, Dan Gosling, Lewis Cook; Joshua King, Callum Wilson
Substitutes: Artur Boruc, Philip Billing, Gavin Kilkenny, Andrew Surman, Harry Wilson, Dominic Solanke
Bournemouth are depleted in defence, so there are rare starts for Jack Stacey, Chris Mepham and Jack Simpson. The loss of Nathan Ake has been a particular blow to them in recent weeks. The Cherries have shipped 12 goals in their last seven outings, with their only clean sheet during this run coming at Chelsea.
Ryan Fraser will look to cause Saka problems down the wing, whilst they also have Harry Wilson available from the bench. Callum Wilson is the main man up front, but Joshua King does chip in with his fair share of goals too.