Bournemouth Preview: Back With A Swagger?

I cannot be the only one feeling the waves of relief; it’s Saturday. Matchday. The butterflies in the stomach, the excitement of waking up knowing there is a football match this afternoon. 3pm as well, proper football o’clock; traditionalists reach for your King James bibles and holler, “Praise the Lord!”.

Whether we’ll feel so upbeat at 4.45pm is another matter. There’s nothing in the three matches we’ve seen so far which should leave anyone dismissive of the opposition. While Bournemouth have yet to register a point, we haven’t registered a clean sheet nor a goal in our last two games.

But there’s still a confidence – a swagger if you like – in supporting the Arsenal; an expectation of victory, even if the swagger is more of a drunken reel.

The question is whether the hints dropped by Arsène in recent weeks become reality: the back three is dead, long live the four. There is a logic to it in some respects. The manager is said to be underwhelmed by Shkodran Mustafi and he by England; relegating him to the bench at Anfield may just be the start. It would leave a partnership of Koscielny and Holding. Surely not Monreal in a flat back four but we’ve seen the suicidal defensive tendency of Wenger’s team selections this year so nothing can be ruled out.

Wenger chose to ‘protect’ Holding by dropping him against Stoke but that then threw him to the wolves against Liverpool. It didn’t make sense at the Bet365 because it was fairly obvious that the player wasn’t the issue; the combination against Leicester was the issue but hindsight is a wonderful thing. We all have 20/20 vision with it.

A Blend in the Crowd Man

The presumption today is that we aren’t seeing square pegs in round holes. Hector Bellerin is a right back and Sead Kolasinac a left back. His assist during the recent international break shows exactly what we’re missing when he plays centrally or is on the bench. Nacho has done well on the left of the three but we need a bit more going forward if we’re reverting to a quartet.

Anfield underlined a lack of application. Yes, Ox’s indecision and disinclination to play is not there but the biggest test for Arsène is motivation. Not his, the players. Sanchez is the ‘obvious’ target but the lack of confidence Wenger talks of is not going to be solved quickly. He has to find a winning combination otherwise his proclamation that we’re stronger than last season is more hollow than I think it already is.

Perhaps Coquelin as a purely defensive midfielder is the answer. However, he has to understand that it’s imperative he tames his inner-Song. Crossing the halfway line, supporting the attack; these are strictly forbidden. Maybe it’s a role which suits Elneny better in that respect.

Knowing there is another barrier behind him will free Aaron Ramsey to support the attack. Criticising the Welshman is a national sport at times; he’s very much a lightning rod in that respect. However, I’d ask the question whether we play the formation which exploits his strongest points? Some players you know have been bought because Wenger liked them, not necessarily because they fit the way he wants the team to play. Ramsey is one of those in my view.

Is This Anybody’s Golden Age

All eyes will be on Alexis and I assume he’ll start. Repeatedly the media tried to get the manager to admit Sanchez is a problem but I agree, he’s too motivated to not try his best. Whereas others feigned injury on departing, I can’t see that happening with Sanchez. He’s got to be one of the world’s worst at sitting still.

Leading the line, Alexandre Lacazette. Enough of the silliness about adaptation periods; that was your own madness ruling the roost, Arsène. Prior to Liverpool, it was scored two in two (one was wrongly ruled out) and there’s something of the Ian Wright about the French striker. You can keep him quiet but at some point, an opportunity will come his way and he will score.

The reality is that today is a match we’re expected to win. Bournemouth, just two places below us, are sacrificial lambs, even though I’d expect them to be obdurate. Not agriculturally like a Pulis or Allardyce side but well-organised as they have been since joining the top flight.

To get you in the mood, The Specials Jukebox Classics is at Dad’s Jukebox.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

153 thoughts on “Bournemouth Preview: Back With A Swagger?

  1. Ozil tees up Le Coq who shoots and it goes wide.

    Ozil is carrying his form from Germany and not just against the shit team but against the tougher Czech.

    Sanchez and Giroud coming on for Welbeck and Lacazette

  2. Brighton are really looking good against West Brom.

    Sead to Sanchez who does what Sanchez does and creates a chance for Giroud who tried to beat Begovic near post but also had Ozil for teh easy tap in at the back post.

  3. Le Coq has hurt himself on a non-contact injury and it doesn’t look good at all, he is straight down the tunnel. It looked like something went and he will be out for quite some time which is a real shame but luckily we have Elneny.

    I know its not funny but if you happen to watch it in slow motion it looks like a dolphin flipping in the water.

  4. the one interesting thing about this match is the massive difference in how assured we looked with Mustafi/Kos/Nacho with Xhaka actually SITTING deep and not pushing forward.

    We are playing with 10 men as Le Coq has apparently took off his shirt while walking down the tunnel and threw it and commentators say it sounded like he knew something went.

  5. C

    It does not make much sense to get too excited about the good or to depressed about the bad. We get really excited about a good game or 2 but when we have our bad runs everyone thinks the sky is crashing and after the Liverpool game everyone was convinced we are going to end up in mid table or worse. This sort of Jekyll and Hyde stuff is who we are as a team. By the end of the season we will have about 1/2 good season and 1/2 bad season and end up challenging for 4th place. The problem is that I think Chelsea and the 2 Manchester teams are the top 3 and we are going to struggle to finish in 4th ahead of Liverpool and Spurs. The top 4 is not guaranteed when there are 6 teams who are legitimate challengers for those spots.

  6. Bellerin with one of those bursts from deep and played it to Sanchez and if Begovic doesn’t claim it, its an easy tap-in for Sanchez.

    Sanchez playing up top even with Giroud on the pitch and creates a half chance that gets blocked.

  7. Since we have been down to 10 men, Bournemouth have created a couple of 1/2 chances but nothing really that threatening.

    Nacho is having a real go at the team to see out the performance.

    Bit of sloppy defending and Kos gets outjumped and Cech makes the save.

  8. So if anything happens to Elneny (assuming AW ever starts him) we won’t have anyone who looks capable of covering midfield defensive duties.
    Better start working Chambers, as cover, in training.

  9. Bill,

    I know we are a Jekyll and Hyde type of team but the couple of things that I think are most telling about this performance is that Sead and Lacazette need to be 2 of the first names on the team sheet and Lacazette will score goals. Yogi alluded to it in his post, he has that Wrighty about him, he can be quite and work hard for the team and then he gets that one chance and buries it. I get excited about the wins and get pissed at the losses, its the rollercoaster of being a supporter, I’m the same way when I play in my 7-on-7 coed league and even more so in my 7-on-7 men’s league.

  10. Jonny,

    I actually think Chambers can do a job there, but yup and just think, Arsenal had accepted an offer for Elneny from Leicester before Elneny said he wanted to stay.

  11. A good result, three points and a clean sheet, just shows what can be done when you put round pegs in round holes and square pegs in square ones.

    We need to carry the confidence of this result into the Koln game.

  12. A good day so far, England win the series, Arsenal get three points and Saints are 14 – 0 up after 30 mins.

  13. Last season despite all of the bad stuff and all of the negativity we still collected 75 points which was our second best total since 2008. In a typical PL season that would have been more then enough to finish in the top 4 and if there had not been so many other good teams last season would have been a smashing success with top 4 and the FA cup. The difference now is there are more teams who are legitimate top 4 contenders. By the end of this season, I suspect we will collect somewhere between 70-75 points. Where that leaves us in the table depends on what happens to the other 5 contenders.

  14. C

    Lacazette looks like he is a good finisher and I expect he will finish the season somewhere in the high teens in league goals. The reality is that everyone is going to look great when the team is as dominant as it was today. Even Ramsey and Xhaka looked good today and they were playing the same position as they played in the first 3 games. Suggesting that and Lacazette and Saed are the long term difference makers after one good game is the same thing we have been doing for years. . The true difference maker today was Welbeck and how often is that going to happen?

  15. Bill,

    I disagree, I think Lacazette will hit 20 goals this season. The thing with both Lacazette and Sead is that even against Leicester they looked good. Lacazette scored a superb wrongly disallowed goal against Stoke. The thing with him is that he is a pure goal scorer who has shown not only at Arsenal but throughout his career that he literally only needs a 1/2 chance and he will bury it. Sead will be fine because the two things that you always hear is players need to get used to the physicality and the pace of the PL, well those two things are Sead specials. Welbeck was quite a difference maker today and the thing is, he will have those days because of his constant work rate but he will also not have those days. The other thing that you have to take into consideration is that Sanchez will sooner rather than later replace Welbeck in the startig XI which will only make Lacazette and Sead that much more effective.

    I will say, Ramsey did put in a good performance because he was disciplined and wasn’t all gung-ho. Xhaka was Xhaka minus the careless pass that leads to a goal.

  16. Happy as I am to see England win, I was very much hoping Windies would put on a challenging target – as I had tickets for Lords tomorrow. 🙁
    Also, Saracens lost to Bath which was quite a surprise after last weeks total mauling of Northampton. Incredible game to watch and an amazing performance from Rokodaguni.

  17. I really like Welbeck on the left, even without the goals. He did lots of great work helping out that midfield today and gave an easy passing option. Got us moving too; he was at the heart of a lot of the one-touch stuff.

  18. Stoke up 1-0 off a lovely diagonal from Fletcher to Dioff who crosses it and Chupo buries it right in front of De Gea.

    Manure have been dominating in the last 20 mins and Stoke get the goal right before half-time and Mourinho is raging pissed.

  19. Birdkamp,

    I think that’s the thing, he does off so much as a winger but as a striker who needs to be counted on week in and week out for goals, well that’s just not him.

    Its why I would be really really interested to see a front 4 of Welbeck, Lacazette, Ozil, Sanchez should we ever go to a back 4.

  20. C,

    I agree that he’s more of a winger. If he’s happy there then it’s all good because he makes the team play better.

    I don’t mind the 3-4-3 for now. I’d have been more worried if AW had switched to a back four because that would have been a u-turn. Today looked a lot more like the back-end of last season, though Bournemouth were pretty lightweight.

    Cologne and Chelsea will be a good gauge.

  21. Birdkamp,

    The problem he will face is what happens once Sanchez is fit and ready because then that means its either Sanchez or Welbeck. I too think Welbeck the winger is valuable because of his work rate but Welbeck the striker doesn’t work.

    I’m not oppoaed to a back 4, its what I grew up on and I think with Sead and Bellerin you have modern FB’s.

    I agree though, Koln and Chelsea will be quite the tests.

  22. It’s good to have the team back with a great performance after the poor outing at Liverpool.
    The team I believe is good enough on any given day if the players put in a respectable shift.
    For those getting on the back of Wenger and creating negativity around the team, it has not helped and it’ll never help. It’s support that they require not some endless criticism.

    Like Wenger noted it’s only a match – and what you look for is a better performance in the next game. Welbeck now has 3, Lacazette 2, Kolasinac is building assists… I look forward to better days ahead.

    Arsenal has not had a good start…
    ManU just drew at Stoke
    Liverpool!!! I don’t know what to say….maybe we’ll get beaten 20-0 by City.
    Real Madrid has drawn two already…
    Monaco just got thrashed by Nice…
    Chelsea lost their first game too…

    I await the comments of the media on today’s bloop by Liverpool and ManU.

    The season is developing. Let’s get behind the team. COYG

  23. I think I heard that we have won 12 of our last 14 home games which would include several games during our rough patch last season. Even when are playing poorly we usually find a way to win at home against the mid and low table teams in the league. However our overall home and away record against the top 6 is terrible throughout this whole decade and that includes plenty of games that happen when we are in good form.

    The point is that a win today at home against a bottom of the table team was certainly to be expected no matter how poorly we played at Stoke and Liverpool. However our record against the big clubs says we have not been good enough to actually challenge those clubs for the top of the league title. What you are left with is a team that is good enough to take advantage of the lower half of the table especially at home and has the mental strength to challenge for 4th place but not much more.

  24. It’s fine to have a player like Welbeck as one of our wingers as long as there are enough goal scorers in the rest of the starting 11. However the line up we started today lacazette is the only player in that 11 that is a legitimate threat to score in double digits in league goals. That worked out today at home against the worst team in the league but a line up which is that short of firepower is not going to work over the course of a season

  25. The midfield 4 we started today doesn’t have any scorers in the midfield other then possibly Ramsey who is a threat but unfortunately not very consistent. We need the vast majority of our goals from the front 3. A front 3 of Welbeck Lacazette and Ozil is not going to score enough goals for us to compete for anything more then 4th place over the course of a 38 game league season. We either have to sacrifice Welbeck’s work ethic or Ozil to get more firepower into the line up. I would gladly see us sacrifice Ozil but that is just me.

  26. One option would be dropping Ozil back into central midfield in place of Ramsey and start Welbeck, Lacazette and Sanchez upfront. However, if we think the central midfield of Ramsey/Xhaka is a defensive liability then imagine how much worse we would be with a central midfield of Ozil and Xhaka.

  27. Last season we only lost 1 home league game during that bad stretch from Dec – April. We lost 9 league games last year but only 2 of those losses were home games. Without our solid home form we might have missed the Europa league. Last season seemed terrible but we still collected 75 points which was tied for our second highest points total since 2008.

  28. A home game against the team that is 19th in the table was good way for us to regain our form. I don’t expect us to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge but after that 4 out of the next 6 league games are at home and I would not be surprised if we could put together a good run of results and get back into the fight for 4th.

  29. Morning Peeps,

    properly hung over after a day at the Arsenal. A fine performance from the lads and Bournemouth look like relegation fodder at the moment. I was really impressed with the way the players all stuck to their jobs yesterday. I saw the Ramsey/Xhaka pairing at kick off as yet another invitation for a team to come charging through the middle, but they stuck to their tasks yesterday and Bournemouth never had space.
    I’ve said before that Lacazette is all about the placing of the shot as he never puts his laces through the ball and yesterday’s goal demonstrated my point. It’s why I believe he will be a successful striker for Arsenal, he knows where he intends to put every ball he hits.

  30. Oludotun,

    But isn’t that what fans are about at any club? You get on the manager and the players backs when things are wrong. If we had put in the effort against Stoke and especially Liverpool you could maybe accept it (but probably not), but we didn’t even see effort in those two games. City showed yesterday how poor Liverpool’s defence are, but we couldn’t even muster a shot on target. They may have had 10 men yesterday, but that doesn’t excuse conceding 4 goals in the second half. In that situation you would surely drop deeper and make sure there is little space, but they just rolled over. That result isn’t a demonstration of the gulf to City, but it does show how poor we really were on the day and that isn’t just down to the players. Fans are always get on the players and the manager’s back after a performance like that. Unless you feel we should just be grateful for what we have?

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