Preview: Bournemouth vs. Arsenal

Preview: Bournemouth vs. Arsenal

Fresh from booking their spots in the fourth round of the EFL Cup, Bournemouth and Arsenal return to Premier League action with a showdown at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Cherries put two unanswered goals past Stoke City on Wednesday night, while Mikel Arteta’s men held out for a nervy 1-0 triumph over London rivals Brentford.

Unlike in their most recent Premier League showdown with Brighton & Hove Albion, Bournemouth did not collapse after taking the lead against a confidence-depleted Stoke in the EFL Cup, although Andoni Iraola did have to turn to his bench for a dash of inspiration.

Having been introduced at half time, Dominic Solanke made his presence felt straight away with a crisp strike into the bottom corner, only three minutes before Joe Rothwell’s free kick from the left evaded everyone and nestled into the back of the net.

By clinching their first win since overcoming Swansea City in the second round of the EFL Cup, the Cherries have been rewarded with a fourth-round tie against Liverpool, by which point the Vitality Stadium faithful will hope to have seen their side get off the mark in the top flight.

Still without a maximum haul after six games of the new term, Bournemouth are hovering just above the danger zone in 17th place, with fellow winless sides Luton Town, Sheffield United and Burnley the only teams to have performed worse than them at this embryonic stage.

Showdowns with Everton, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Burnley in October will provide Iraola’s side with three prime opportunities to belatedly come up trumps, but their winless run in the top flight now stands at 10 games since a 4-1 thrashing of Leeds United in April, since when they have scored just twice in 450 minutes of Premier League home football.

Bournemouth’s recent lack of ruthlessness at home will severely hinder their chances of upsetting an Arsenal side with an affinity for clean sheets away from their Emirates headquarters, although Mikel Arteta’s men certainly rode their luck a couple of times during their slender triumph over Brentford.

Reiss Nelson capitalised on a Zanka mistake with just eight minutes gone to break the deadlock for the Gunners, who were indebted to some crucial stops from returning goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and a stunning Jakub Kiwior block from Keane Lewis-Potter’s goal-bound strike in the second half.

A second successive EFL Cup London derby away from home now awaits the Gunners, who have been drawn to face West Ham United in the fourth round and head south having kept three clean sheets in three away games this season, also shutting out Crystal Palace and Everton on hostile territory.

However, continued rearguard frailties cost Arsenal dear in last weekend’s North London derby, where Tottenham Hotspur came from behind twice to snatch a point thanks to a Son Heung-min brace, bumping Arteta’s men down to fifth in the table, although their unbeaten record remains intact.

A tally of 11 goals is the joint-worst attacking record inside the top eight alongside West Ham, but the Gunners put three past Bournemouth without reply at the Vitality Stadium last term before an astonishing 3-2 Emirates victory, where Nelson – the hero of the hour on Wednesday – sparked unbridled pandemonium with a 97th-minute winner.

Bournemouth Premier League form:

Bournemouth form (all competitions):

Arsenal Premier League form:

Arsenal form (all competitions):

We say: Bournemouth 0-2 Arsenal
Even though Arsenal have not set the world alight on the attacking front this season, the Gunners have shown admirable resilience in the face of adversity away from home, and their lengthy injury list is not such a cause for concern any more given their increased squad depth.

Meanwhile, a Bournemouth side who have already struggled for goals on home soil seem set to make do without their main focal point in Solanke, and as such, Arteta’s men should travel back to North London with another three points and clean sheet in the bag.

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