All of the signs suggest Wednesday’s match against Bournemouth at the Emirates should be an Arsenal win. The Gunners are unbeaten in 13 straight at home in the league (11-2-0), Bournemouth have lost their last eight away matches, and they have not scored an away goal this calendar year. So the Arsenal fan in all of us worries about all the ways the match could go wrong, correct?
If the Gunners don’t find a way to mess things up and do manage to earn the full three points, they will be sitting pretty heading into the two matches that could potentially decide the season - Tottenham away and Manchester United at the Emirates.
Fortunately for Arsenal, both of the knocks picked up over the weekend (Alex Iwobi, ankle and Stephan Lichtsteiner, back) were minor. Both players are in contention to start tomorrow, but with Ainsley Maitland-Niles back in full training, I would expect the youngster to get the nod at right back.
Bournemouth will be without Junior Stanislas, Steve Cook, Callum Wilson, and David Brooks.
When the two sides met earlier this season in Bournemouth, Arsenal prevailed 2-1 on the strength of an own-goal and a second half strike from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
My hope is that Unai Emery gives Lucas Torreira a rest and Mesut Özil another start. The Uruguayan looks a bit off the pace (or at least the pace he set earlier in the year) and having him fresh for Spurs at the weekend is important. As for Özil, given Emery’s track record, I doubt he will trust the German away against a top club, so at home against a lesser one seems like a good time to get him on the pitch. It would also make sense to give Aubameyang a start at striker given he only played 15 minutes over the weekend.
Despite stumbling in December and January, the Gunners have a chance to close out February well and set up a compelling run-in battle for the Champions League places. Even though I’ve clearly gotten ahead of myself in looking at the table and the schedule, let’s hope that Arsenal have not. Failing to get the full three points on Wednesday against a Bournemouth side that is weak away from home would be a really bad result.
WHAT: Arsenal vs. Bournemouth
WHERE: Emirates Stadium
WHEN: Wednesday, February 27, 12:45 PM PT | 2:45 PM ET | 7:45 PM BT
US TV: Streaming on NBC Sports Gold ($$$).
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