Arsenal will travel to the Vitality stadium to take on Bournemouth in what promises to be an entertaining game considering the style of play of both the sides. With Liverpool dropping points, Arsenal can close the gap and here are three key battles they need to win if they are to do so.
Alexis Sanchez vs Simon Francis
Whether he plays through the centre or not, his off the ball work rate is unparalleled and Arsenal have hugely benefitted from that this season. He looked visibly frustrated as he didn’t get a goal against Palace and will look to make it right in his next game.
The Chilean has scored 12 goals this season and registered eight assists. He has a shot accuracy of 75% and is arguably the best player the Gunners have in their squad when the team is playing away. He has scored nine goals and produced three assists in away appearances this campaign and is the most likely to score again at Vitality Stadium.
Eddie Howe will have his skipper Simon Francis to stop the Chilean. Francis has led the Bournemouth side by example this season. His commanding presence at the back keeps the spirits up during nervy moments and he has a steep task to on his hands on Sunday.
Joshua King vs Laurent Koscielny
Both the managers are bound to make squad rotations and Afobe is likely to give way to Joshua King up front. A secondary striker, King has played almost all games for the Cherries and will be a major threat to Arsenal. He has scored two goals this season and registered one assist. He has a shot accuracy of 75% this season and having scored a goal in the last game against Swansea City coming in the 73rd minute, King will come into the match with high confidence.
Koscielny has been nothing short of amazing for Arsenal this season. The French international has remained calm while his partners have been often changed. He has won 26 tackles this season with a success rate of 68%. He has made 53 interceptions, 116 clearances and 13 blocks. While King shouldn’t be a match for Koscielny’s abilities, we have seen Everton and Manchester City piercing Arsenal’s tight usually defence.
Olivier Giroud vs Nathan Ake
This will be an interesting battle and a deciding one too. Giroud has been nothing short of magnificent in his last few games. After missing out most of the first half with an injury, he has come back with a bang. He has now scored 5 goals and 2 assists in 12 matches. His goal against Palace has been the talk of the town and Wenger will hope he keeps adding to his tally.
Ake, on the other hand, has been a revelation this season for Bournemouth. Although it took him some time to get into the first team, he has been brilliant since then. He has scored three goals in nine appearances, winning 13 tackles with a success rate of 65% this season. He has made 10 interceptions, 58 clearances and five blocks.