Bournemouth Preview: No Coasting Allowed

The Premier League returns with the trip to Bournemouth, a return to one of the numerous crime scenes of last season. It was a woeful defeat and one hopefully consigned to the bin. Have we replaced them with draws? Unai Emery made everyone aware he isn’t satisfied with the last three results in that respect.

Results yesterday make three points obligatory if we’re to realise the much-stated ‘ambition’ of returning to the top four. A win takes us to within a point of Chelsea and three of Tottenham, pointed given the upcoming North London derby.

We need a win anyway. Three consecutive draws and three relatively poor performances. Wolves out-worked us; their goal highlighted our vulnerability at the back early in matches which others have exposed this season. That was a post-international break performance delivered a fortnight early.

I wonder if it was the cumulative effect though? It was the seventh game after the last break with minimal changes made to the XI each time, bar the League Cup. Injuries forced Emery’s hand but now he has options despite being hemmed in other areas.

Nacho Monreal is out for a while leaving Sead Kolasinac the opportunity to stake a claim for the Spaniard’s replacement. He hasn’t impressed so far but after a spell on the sidelines himself, as well as being out of the side due to Monreal’s form, is that surprising?

Kolasinac’s form saw him included in the Bundesliga team of the year. Was the pinnacle or setting the standard? We’ll find out very quickly. The Bosnian does, however, seem to be physically suited to Emery’s pressing game. Are we seeing the same learning curve Hector Bellerin followed? The Spaniard’s defensive game has vastly improved in recent weeks as he finds the balance between attacking and ‘staying home’.

Winning Ways

Today’s team will be instructive in Emery’s thinking, certainly at the back. Watching Chelsea’s disintegration yesterday, I can’t have been the only one who thought ‘At least we haven’t got Luiz at the back…but we do have Mustafi’? Will Sokratis return to partner Rob Holding? I’m assuming the youngster retains his place but that’s by no means guaranteed. Of course it is. Or as much as it can be.

It’s never as simple as one decision in a team. Danny Welbeck’s injury complicates Emery’s forward thinking. At home, it seems straightforward to shoehorn PEA and Lacazette into the XI but away from home? Certainly in a run-of-the-mill fixture.

This isn’t such a game. Bournemouth are within touching distance of us, despite losing their last couple of matches. Which makes it a big match, no matter how that pricks your ‘big club supporter’ ego. It’s a big game in the context of yesterday’s results so can we afford two strikers with just Nketiah to come from the bench?

My XI:

Leno; Bellerin, Holding, Sokratis, Kolasinac; Torreira, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Iwobi; Aubameyang

Some will be surprised by Aubameyang instead of Lacazette but I would go on pace alone. Both are capable, we know that but to start it’s personal preference.

Anyway, we’re an hour or so away from kick-off so enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

106 thoughts on “Bournemouth Preview: No Coasting Allowed

  1. C,

    You were spot on. And I recall you mentioning how good he was. Exactly what we needed to pair with Mustafi/Sokratis. Not balanced when they play together which is why Holding has been partnering with either.

  2. C,
    It is clearly an evolving situation vis a vis Ozil. Unfortunately the strong performances are not all that frequent and the situation seems to be heading along a trajectory that isn’t promising m. Ozil needs to have more influence on matches. Emery will feel he is justified dropping Ozil, which I didn’t agree on at the time, v Eolves because we scored soon after he subbed him off. It is up to Ozil to get back into the team when we have a “demanding” match to play.

  3. LSG,

    Holding is more of that pure defender to Mustafi/Sokaritis being that all around modern defender who is also key to the ball playing sides.

  4. LSG,

    The thing is, its not like Ozil has gone disppearing this season nor has he not done the dirty work. I think so much of Ozil and the squad as a whole’s problem is that they are still learnjng Emery and what he wants and how he wants them to play. The thing is, there will be matches that simply don’t suit Ozil and Emery will make that tactical change whereas Arsene wouldn’t. Goonera need to not overreact to this because there were times at PSG where Emery dropped the likes of Verrati, Silva, Cavani, Raboit and others. Emery doesn’t care about status but he does about his tactics.

    I don’t worry about Ozil because he has shown more and people tend to forget that he played under demanding managers like Mourinho and Low and flourished. Lets see what happens because if Emery had concerns about Ozil, no way would he have ever started him against Liverpool, given him the armband and played him the full 90 in the biggest match of our season.

  5. C,

    Fair enough. I think Ozil has a lot to offer but if he wants to be a starter every match like Xhaka (?!), clearly Emery expects more from him.

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