Yet another international break is over, and Premier League festivities can commence once again, as Arsenal travel to the South Coast to take on Bournemouth.
The high-flying Cherries are just one place below us in the league table, as our last three games have failed to yield a victory and we have allowed the chasing pack to catch up.
Unai Emery will be well aware that we need to return to winning ways, with matches against tottenham and United on the near horizon. The Spaniard will also be focusing on our laxness at the back that is allowing chances to the opposition. If we continue to do so in this game, then Eddie Howe’s boys will punish us.
The games will be coming thick and fast from this point, and the whole squad, including youngsters, will have to stand up and be counted. This game is just the start line, but no great story kicks off with a tawdry beginning.
Nacho Monreal was nearing a return, but the Spanish defender has had a setback and is now two to three weeks away from training. We seem to be having a mini-crisis at the back, with Stephane Lichtsteiner, Konstandinos Mavropanos and Laurent Koscielny all out for this game.
It will mean we will have a pool of Sokratis, Holding, Mustafi, Bellerin, Kolasinac and Ainsley Maitland-Niles available to call on at the back.
In midfield, Granit Xhaka has been enjoying better form of late, but his error - no one has made more critical errors that have led to goals than the Swiss star since he joined - against Wolves saw them take the lead, and put us on the back foot. Lucas Torreira will be vital and should make the lineup.
Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are in fine form and should play, as well as Mesut Ozil. The only question mark is who will take the last spot in attack? On form it should be Alex Iwobi, but Hnerikh Mkhitaryan’s vision could be critical for this game.
How This Game Could Go
Bournemouth are on a roll, but have lost the last couple. They also had plenty of players on international duty. This game will be pretty gung-ho too, and the goals will flow.
The home team have only won once out of the 7 games we have played in the PL, but that was the last time we played at the Vitality.
Callum Wilson is a man in form, but so too is our strike force, and I think both teams will grab goals, and it will be decided in the last ten minutes. I think the Cherries will put up a tough fight, but our superior stamina levels - we are amongst the top teams for distance covered per game - will pay dividends, with one of Laca or Auba grabbing the decisive goal.
We’ve never failed to score against Bournemouth in every game we’ve played against them, but Wilson has never failed to score in the three games he’s faced us. There’s also the small matter of Ryan Fraser, who is banging them in and has a great foot for set-plays.
I think we’ll get back to winning ways here, but we could do without giving away so many chances - Wolves had a mere 30-ish percent possession last time out, and still had a glut of opportunities. We do that in this game, we’ll get burned.