MATCH PREVIEW: Arsenal look for three straight against Bournemouth
Arsenal have gotten off to an impressive start to the Premier League season, winning both of their matches against Crystal Palace and Leicester City. With a trip to the southern coast this weekend, Arsenal look to make it three straight to start the league campaign for the first time since the 2004/05 season.
Against Leicester, Gabriel Jesus put on a clinic scoring his debut goal for the club finishing with two goals and two assists. The attacking performance brought me back to peak Arsene Wenger days with a fluid front three combining to confuse and frustrate the opposition. More of that please!
The vibes are immaculate around Arsenal right now, and it feels like we are in store for an exciting season, so here’s hoping that the good form continues on Saturday!
Scouting Our Opponents
Bournemouth finds themselves back in the Premier League once again, following a successful Championship campaign, and starts their season off with a sound 2-0 win against struggling Aston Villa. It’s very weird to see Scott Parker also being back in the Premier League, knowing he, this time, doesn’t manage, also promoted, Fulham, but the Cherries this time.
Setting up in a more and more popular 343 formation, Bournemouth look to create forward movements with the ball while keeping it tidy at the back. The 343 looks to use colombian midfieldere Jefferson Lerma as a transitional player, able to move into the midfield and overload with a more traditional 433 formation.
In defense, Bournemouth wants to stay in a mid/low block and get very aggressive with passes into central areas, looking to create turnovers and quickly transition into offensive areas, using the ability of their frontmen to get into shooting positions. Under prolonged pressure, the Cherries drops into a 541 formation, looking to close the space in and around the penalty area. While this low block approach does take more effort to break down, it does also invite the opposition to keep them pinned into their own half. As thus, there’s a big emphasis on breaking forward when the opportunity comes.
In attack, Scott Parker has tried to implement a very direct approach, looking to break quickly through wide areas. It’s not uncommon for the wide players to overlap each other in a vertical passing pattern, dropping to receive, then one touch passing into a forward runner, looking to, ultimately, swing a cross into the box, either toward the forward or for a far post runner. Bournemouth does also like to use either Solanke or Moore as a passing station, with Christie and Tarvernier looking to snatch up the second balls.
When attacking Bournemouth, Arsenal should look to utilise the zonal marking in the Cherries low block, to overload the half spaces on either side. With Bournemouth wanting to defend low and central, there’s a chance to create room for a overlapping pass in behind the defense, bypassing the congested midfield area. Besides that, playing against a defensive side, dictating the tempo and utilising patience could help Arsenal overcoming one of the low block, which has been the Gunners achilles heel last season.
When defending against Bournemouth, Arteta should look to instruct his wingers to track the wide men all the way back, to not to be sold cheaply on the vertical overlapping in wide areas. Arsenal should also look to deny Tevenier and Christie the chance to pick up the second balls from their foward, getting Partey to drop a few steps backwards. Should Bournemouth get into offensive positions, Arsenal has shown that they’re able to deal with aerial threats – but that should not be an invitation to let the Cherries bombard the box.
How the Match Could Play Out
With Bournemouth being at home they will likely look a little more poised then they did last week against City. It should be noted, they were just overwhelmed by a superior side, they didn’t do much wrong, they just aren’t as talented. It will be a test of Arsenal’s growth if they can put on a similar show against a well coached opponent. Arsenal have shown themselves to be pretty successful against lesser teams that play with a 3-at-the-back system. Both Saka and Martinelli love finding that space behind the wing backs to run in to. And that’s precisely what I expect to happen on Saturday. This should be something to look for early in the match. If it’s there Arsenal will exploit it and should see a lot of joy. Its to that end I suspect Arsenal come out with their third win a row and finish 2-0 winners.
What the Manager Says (courtesy Arsenal.com)
It will be a really tough match. I’ve been there many, many times, I know how tough it is, and I know to expect the atmosphere to be hectic. It’s a team that is used to winning because last year they had a really successful season, and they’ve started well this season. I know Scott Parker very, very well and I know they’re going to make it a really difficult game for us.
I think it’s a good mixture between what Bournemouth used to do and what Scott is as a manager, and I think he has evolved the team in a really positive way. They have a really clear idea of how they want to play, a very clear identity as well and they execute that against any opponent and credit to them for what they’re doing.
Arsenal Record vs Opponent (League only)
7 W 2 D 1 L
Goals Scored (Season Average)
Goals Conceded (Season Average)
xG per Match (via fbref.com)
Referee: Craig Pawson
Assistants: Marc Perry, Scott Ledger
Fourth Official: Graham Scott
VAR: Paul Tierney
Assistant VAR: Dan Robathan
Match Facts (courtesy bbc.co.uk)
- Arsenal are looking to start a season with three straight Premier League wins for the first time in 18 years.
- The Gunners could keep a clean sheet in their opening two away league matches for the first time since 1993.
- Mikel Arteta’s side haven’t drawn any of their last 19 Premier League games, the longest such run in the division.
- Bukayo Saka is on the cusp of becoming the second-youngest player to reach 100 Premier League appearances for Arsenal, behind Cesc Fabregas.
- Bournemouth have won just one of their past 10 Premier League games against Arsenal (D2, L7).
- Mikel Arteta’s first competitive match in charge of The Gunners was a 1-1 draw against Bournemouth on Boxing Day 2019, which was the most recent league meeting between the two sides.