WILL DYER (@w2Dyer) focuses on the English top-flight this weekend. Who’ll come out on top in the Jack Wilshere derby?
Arsenal v Bournemouth | Sunday 14:15 | Sky Sports 1
All of the headlines about Arsenal on Thursday emphasised the fact that the Gunners seem to have found a way to get results when putting on poor shows. Against Paris Saint-Germain they had just five attempts and only one on-target but a penalty and an unlucky own goal from Marco Verratti ensured they avoided defeat.
Faulty guns in the Arsenal
At Old Trafford last weekend, it was a similar story, the second-half hadn’t generated a single attempt on goal for Arsenal until Olivier Giroud popped up with a late header to steal a point for the visitors. The North London derby also followed this pattern with Arsenal only bagging through a Kevin Wimmer own goal.
It was a tricky set of fixtures and so to have navigated them and in-fact managed to extend the unbeaten run to 18 matches in all competitions is very impressive. However, they’ve not been themselves in any of those three matches; four shots on target generated in three games is abysmal and points towards a fall.
Bournemouth’s dream continues. The Cherries sit in the top-half of the table after a series of fantastic performances. The back-to-back defeats to Middlesbrough and Sunderland were hugely undeserved; they had 70% and 60% possession in those games, so to get back to winning ways at Stoke was more than fair.
They’ve conceded more than two goals in just one of 12 games so far this season and that was away to Manchester City. The defence has not been greatly altered though; Nathan Ake plays every now and then but will probably lose his place to the returning Adam Smith.
It seems to have just been a case of the Bournemouth defenders learning from last season’s mistakes and acclimatising to the top-flight. Sixty-seven goals conceded in 2015/16 was the second worst defensive record in the league but this time around there are nine teams worse off.
Going forward, Jack Wilshere has been a key cog in their passing game but he’s yet to score or even assist so don’t expect his absence to ruin Bournemouth’s chances.
Both matches finished 2-0 to Arsenal in this fixture last season but Eddie Howe’s side look in a position to challenge for the top half this year and the Gunners didn’t have it all their own way.
In the game at Dean Court, Bournemouth had more possession and shots. It took goals from Mesut Ozil to open the scoring in both games last year; the German has been scoring well again this campaign but the assists aren’t flowing like they have in the past.
Bournemouth will likely show no fear or respect to Arsenal on Sunday and I believe they can match them at their own game based on Arsenal’s recent performances. The midweek game is sure to have a negative effect too so I think we should side with the Cherries.
Bournemouth +1.5 on the Asian Handicap line is 7/9 with BetVictor. Lose by one goal, draw or win and we have a winning selection.
Only if Howe’s men lose by two or more goals will we have a losing bet.
Arsenal v Bournemouth – Bournemouth +1.5 Asian Handicap (7/9 BetVictor)