Bournemouth v Arsenal | Monday 27th January 2020, 20:000 | BT Sport
Bournemouth host Arsenal in the FA Cup 4th Round on Monday as the Cherries look to build on an impressive win over Brighton in midweek, which ended a torrid run of form in the Premier League and boosted their survival hopes.
Although Eddie Howe will be keen to carry the momentum forward with a victory, the distraction of the cup is untimely in their fight for survival, and he could be tempted to rest a number of key players.
Arsenal are fresh from a draw with Chelsea, where Hector Bellerin fired home a late equaliser despite the Gunners being down to 10 men for a long period of the game. Mikel Arteta’s troops showed much improved defensive resilience, whilst their strong counter-attacking threat allowed them to steal a point, with the Spaniard’s playing style beginning to be implemented.
David Luiz will miss out through suspension for the visitors, as will top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but Sokratis should return from injury to boost the Gunners backline.
Bournemouth’s own injury woes have been a driving force in their struggles, and with the risks around picking up more injuries clear for Howe’s side, it could force his hand in selection, and see a number of surprises in the team.
Despite improvements in performances under Arteta, the results haven’t quite followed, but the implementation of his style is seeing progress with every game, and they will be confident of carrying this on.
There is much better defensive shape for the Gunners, with the full backs areas particularly standing out with the improvements from Bukayo Saka and Ainsley Maitland-Nile. The duo offer Arsenal both energy going forward, as well as the ability to cover defensive, and this will be key up against Bournemouth’s attacking threat.
Bournemouth will be expected to sit deep and look to hit Arsenal on the counter through Harry Wilson and Ryan Fraser out wide, whilst Callum Wilson’s pace in behind the high Gunners defensive line will be a concern.
The previous meeting
The sides met in Arteta’s first game on Boxing Day, with it ending in a 1-1 draw, but a lot can be taken for how the shape of the game is expected to play out, with the impetus expected to be on Arsenal to take the game to the Cherries.
The Gunners dominated possession that day with 61%, and with a similar approach is expected with Bournemouth looking soak up the pressure and hit Arsenal on the break, it will need to be a patient approach from the Gunners if they are to break down the Cherries defence.
It is worth noting that even with an improved performance against Brighton in midweek, it was a story of Bournemouth being much more clinical than the visitors, with a stalemate on the Expected Goals (xG) count highlighting this.
Worrying defensive cracks at the back from Bournemouth have been apparent throughout the season, and coming up against an Arsenal attack that is starting to find its feet, particularly with the starring roles for Gabriel Martinelli in recent weeks, it is hard to see them shutting out Arteta’s side.
The 4-4-2 Arterta prefers to play should offer the creative midfielders plenty of space to control the game for Arsenal, and if the influential German midfielder Mesut Ozil starts, it is a game suited to his style and freedom to roam from the central attacking midfield role, and he will be key to Arsenal’s hopes.
The betting angles
As a result, I believe its tough to see past an Arsenal victory in this game, even with their worries away in recent years. With Arteta’s clearer style starting to prove its worth, coupled with a struggling Bournemouth side who could do without the distraction of the cup, I’d be happy to take Arsenal at 10/11 (RedZone).
The line-ups are a tough angle to unpick when considering the individual player markets, but an area that is always of interest is the tackles market for the full back up against Nicolas Pepe.
The shape of the Chelsea games means that the statistics within that game are tough to read too much into, however, when looking at how recent full backs have coped in recent weeks against the winger, a trend is appearing.
Enda Stevens recorded four tackles, Jairo Riedeweld three and Luke Shaw three in his most recent league starts under Arteta, so it is worth a look at Bournemouth’s left back on this market.
If it is Diego Rico starting at left back, he is an appealing 1/1 (William Hill) to have 3+ tackles, but it is important to note that it is an angle that requires the line ups to suit, so I would advise holding off until the teams are announced.
Bournemouth v Arsenal – Arsenal to win (10/11 RedZone)
Bournemouth v Arsenal – Diego Rico to have 3+ tackles (11/10 William Hill)