Arsenal have slipped from title favourites to fourth in the standings and behind local rivals Spurs. That has happened after a scoreless run that has stretched to three games and is part of a four match winless streak. The Cherries, meanwhile, are unbeaten in three and have lost just two of their last 12. With trips to four of the current top six and a visit to Everton, where they’ve not won in three attempts, to come in their final six away matches anything less than a win here will surely be a major blow to the Gunners hopes of landing a first title since 2004. Add in two legs against Barcelona and are we about to see Arsenal’s season fizzle out in it’s now familiar fashion?
While Arsenal are choking in their title challenge Bournemouth are making a better fist of their relegation fight. They are one of just five teams to have avoided defeat at the hands of Leicester this season and are the only one of those sides to have played the leaders twice. Furthermore, they’ve lost just half their eight matches against the current top six.
However, Arsenal have a record against promoted teams that is almost as good as that of their neighbours, as since 2012/13 they’ve won 18 of 21 such matches without being beaten (Spurs are W20-D2-L0). That includes eight wins in 11 away matches with six won by at least two clear goals and they did create a lot of chances against Southampton, while the previous blank against Chelsea was heavily influenced by being reduced to 10 men within the first 20 minutes. So their scoring problems aren’t as bad as it looks and they have recently welcomed back Alexis Sanchez. Furthermore, their defence has remained solid, with four clean sheets in their last six games and when their attack clicks it can be devastating. Since 2013/14 they’ve won 18 of 27 trips to bottom-half teams with 11 of those victories by more than one goal and 11 coming to nil.
Confidence may be high in the Bournemouth camp but they were 2-0 losers against Arsenal at the end of December and six of their last eight defeats have been by more than one. The Gunners look an excellent price to win at odds-against but don’t be surprised if they take the lead and keep going with the 4.20 to cover the -1 handicap worth a punt.
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