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Arsenal vs. Bournemouth: keep rolling

A potential trap game for the Gunners?

AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal FC - FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by David Horton - CameraSport via Getty Images

Arsenal travel to the south coast to take on Bournemouth looking to make it three from three to start the Premier League season. Mikel Arteta’s new talisman, Gabriel Jesus looks worth every penny of the £45M it took to acquire him. Fun fact: this weekend he becomes the first player ever started on more than 80% of Fantasy Premier League teams. Fun fact #2: Arsenal have named the youngest starting XI in the league for the first two matchdays and look set to do the same again today.

The Cherries surprised a listless Aston Villa side 2-0 to open the season, then were thoroughly humbled 4-0 by Manchester City. I don’t think we know much about them from those two matches. Villa were poor in the season opener. And Manchester City is Manchester City. Hopefully Arsenal take Bournemouth seriously. It’s tough to play on the road in the Premier League, and the Gunners shouldn’t be dropping points to newly promoted clubs expected to be in the relegation battle.

Some of the chatter coming out of the first two Arsenal matches centers on potentially slow starts to the season for Martin Ødegaard and Bukayo Saka on the right side of the attack. It’s a bit more narrative than reality — a look into the numbers for both shows they’ve played pretty well — but you’d like to see them get on the scoresheet. The Arsenal left has been running rampant. Imagine the attack if both sides are cooking.

Arsenal need watch out for Bournemouth’s aerial threat. The Cherries are strong in the air, especially the 6’5 Wales international Kieffer Moore. That could prove a problem for Arsenal, particularly should Moore decide to attack the 5’9 Oleksandr Zinchenko’s left side. Gabriel and William Saliba will have to be alert to the threat. Some have speculated that Takehiro Tomiyasu might return to his spot at right back because he’s comparatively stronger in the air than Ben White, although the England man gets a bit of a bum rap — he’s better with his head than he gets credit for.

Mikel Arteta’s side continues to get healthy. Emile Smith Rowe, Fabio Vieira, and Cedric all featured for the U21s on Wednesday and could be available for selection today. I highly doubt any of them start, but they could make the bench. If they do and the match situation allows, I’d expect ESR to get a run-out. Reiss Nelson is out long-term with a muscle injury.

Scott Parker will be without summer signings Joe Rothwell and Ryan Fredricks. David Brooks, who announced that he had completed his treatment for stage two Hodgkin Lymphoma in May, has returned to training but is still a ways off from being available. But obviously, that’s fantastic news for the lad. Jordan Zermura should be available after missing out last week with a positive COVID test. Dominic Solanke faces a late fitness test.

Arsenal - Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Xhaka, Partey, Saka, Ødegaard, Martinelli, Jesus

Bournemouth - Travers, Kelly, Mepham, Lerma, Smith, Tavernier, Moore, Pearson, Sensei, Billing, Zemura

WHAT: Arsenal at Bournemouth
WHERE: Vitality Stadium
WHEN: Saturday, August 20th 9:30 am PT | 12:30 pm ET | 5:30 pm BST
US TV: NBC and UNIVERSO. Streaming on NBCsports.com (TV provider log-in required).

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