The Gunners have not lost since opening day, but with a pair of draws, they suddenly see themselves six points adrift of the top, and now host a testy Bournemouth side needing to keep pace with the top.
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Olivier Giroud has scored vital late goals in each of the Gunners’ last two games, but he still can’t find the starting lineup as Alexis Sanchez yet again begins up top. Despite this, there are still a host of changes to the starting lineup for Wenger who hopes to spark an uptick in form.
Mathieu Debuchy returns to the starting lineup for the first time in over a year, giving a boost to a back line that has struggled with consistency due to a host of injuries. Debuchy slots in at right-back, replacing Carl Jenkinson as both look to keep the status quo after losing Hector Bellerin to an ankle injury. Granit Xhaka also comes in to the Arsenal side alongside Mohamed Elneny in the holding midfield, with Francis Coquelin making way. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaces Alex Iwobi on the wing, as Walcott’s early season form appears to have dried up.
For Bournemouth, Howe makes just two changes with Brad Smith and Adam Smith coming into the starting lineup. Jack Wilshere makes way as he is ineligible to face his parent club, and left-back Charlie Daniels returning to the bench following the end of Adam Smith’s suspension. They are still without first-choice goalkeeper Artur Boruc after injuring his back.
In just three previous competitive matches between these two clubs, the Gunners haven’t failed to win in any, with Mesut Ozil scoring twice against the Cherries last season alone.
Arsenal: Cech; Debuchy, Mustafi, Koscieny, Monreal; Elneny, Xhaka; Walcott, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Sanchez.
Subs: Ospina, Gabriel, Gibbs, Coquelin, Ramsey, Iwobi, Giruod.
Bournemouth: Federici; A.Smith, Francis, Cook, B.Smith, Ake; Gosling, Arter; Stanislas, King, Wilson.
Subs: Allsop, Mings, Ibe, Fraser, Pugh, Mousset, Afobe.