Arsenal v Bournemouth Monday 28th KO 5:30 pm

Having spurned an opportunity to move top of the Premier League table on Boxing Day, Arsenal return to action on Monday evening when they play host to Bournemouth at the Emirates Stadium.

The situation looked bleak for the visiting Cherries a few weeks back, but Eddie Howe's men have embarked on a positive run of form recently that has seen move up to 14th position.

Arsenal

It is a good job that Arsene Wenger does not have a Twitter account. If the Arsenal boss did have access to the social networking site on Boxing Day, it would not have made comfortable reading for the Frenchman.

As his side shipped four goals without reply away at Southampton, tweets were being posted at a rapid rate - some from fans of other teams mocking the Gunners, while the rest came from Arsenal supporters who feel that they have seen this sort of thing before.

Wenger kept faith with the same players that disposed of title rivals Manchester City only a few days earlier, but the performance down on the South Coast could not have been much different.

Not only was it a hefty defeat that could potentially have serious ramifications on the team's confidence levels going forward, it also meant that Wenger's charges passed up the opportunity to unseat Leicester City at the summit.

On top of that, the four-point gap that had been opened up over City has been slashed to one.

There is a real feeling that if Arsenal are to ever end their Premier League title drought under Wenger's guidance, they will not get a better chance than this season. But, it is results like the Southampton one that bring both fans and the media back down to earth when it comes to rating their chances.

It was also the latest setback in a worrying trend which has seen the North Londoners suffer at least one big or calamitous loss each month since the start of the campaign.

In August it was West Ham that did the damage, followed by Chelsea, Olympiacos (September), Sheffield Wednesday (October) and Bayern Munich, West Bromwich (November). While not all of those results have been suffered in the Premier League, they still raise big question mark over the team's mentality.

Recent form: LDWWWL

Recent form (all competitions): DWWWWL 

Bournemouth

When Newcastle United recorded a 1-0 win at Dean Court in early November, Bournemouth's winless run was extended to six matches and left Howe's side in the relegation zone.

After that game Howe would have glanced at the fixtures list and seen that his side faced Swansea (A), Everton (H), Chelsea (A), Man United (H), West Bromwich Albion (A) and Crystal Palace (H) before they made the trip to Arsenal.

Naturally an optimistic person, even Howe must have been fearing the worst. Yet, to his and his team's credit, the doom and gloom has descended thanks to the fact that 12 points have been collected from a possible 18 - a haul which includes deserved wins over Chelsea and Man United.

That form should see them make the trip to Arsenal full of confidence, as will their recent record in London. Bournemouth have won both of their Premier League games in the capital this season, while they have also emerged victorious from five of their last six visits there. One thing that will be causing Howe slight concern, though, is his side's defensive record.

The clean sheet last time out against Palace was just their third of the season and they have conceded 32 goals in 18 outings - only Sunderland and Newcastle have shipped more.

They have also let in a division-high 12 goals from set-piece situations and with Arsenal able to boast some serious threats in the air with the likes of Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny, it may be a weakness that haunts Bournemouth once again.

Recent form: DDWWWD 

Team News

Wenger was expected to rotate his squad during the festive period and the thrashing at Southampton has only enhanced the likelihood of that happening.

Per Mertesacker's lack of pace was badly exposed by Shane Long, so the German centre-back may be taken out of the firing line, with Gabriel filling the void.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may also come into the side, while Calum Chambers is also thought to be pushing for inclusion.

As for the visitors, they could be boosted by the return of midfielder Lee Tomlin from a groin injury.

But, Josh King will remain sidelined until 2016 because of a hamstring complaint that he picked up prior to the clash with West Brom earlier this month.

27/12/15

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