Arsenal v Bournemouth preview: Arsene Wenger to monitor Alexis Sanchez fitness
Last Updated: 09/09/17 2:04pm
Arsene Wenger has no new injury concerns ahead of Saturday's return to Premier League action against Bournemouth, but will monitor Alexis Sanchez in the build up to kick-off.
Sanchez cut a forlorn figure in the 4-0 defeat to Liverpool prior to the international break and then suffered back-to-back losses with Chile as well as seeing a potential £60m move to Manchester City break down.
Wenger told reporters at his pre-match briefing he would check on Sanchez ahead of the game but said he was confident the player, who said on Friday that he was ready to face the Cherries, would "be back very quickly to his best".
"I have no doubt about Alexis' mind and mentality, that people question," Wenger said. "He needs to come back to full fitness, which he was not (at) against Liverpool. It was his first game, and he has suffered a negative experience with Chile."
Despite rumblings of discontent in the Gunners camp, Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe - whose side are still seeking their first points of the campaign - remains wary.
"I don't think you can predict good times and bad times to play teams, our only focus is on our preparations," he said. "Our training has been very good and I just hope we continue our momentum from the Manchester City game.
"You need to start the game well and stay in the game, it doesn't matter what run of form you're in - you can't give yourself too much to do."
While Sanchez might have endured a torrid time away with Chile, Wenger has no fresh injury concerns following the international break.
Laurent Koscielny should be fit despite sustaining a knock with France and everyone else returned unscathed.
Jack Wilshere is unlikely to feature against the Cherries as he continues to work back to full fitness while Santi Cazorla (ankle) will be missing until after Christmas.
Bournemouth expect captain Simon Francis to be back in contention after a hamstring problem.
Howe has reported no other concerns with forwards Junior Stanislas (groin) and Callum Wilson (knee) continuing their rehabilitation.
Arsenal's three home meetings with Bournemouth in all competitions have all ended in victory, with the most recent being a 3-1 win in November last season.
Arsenal have not lost three of their opening four games to a league campaign since 1982-83 (W0 D1 L3 - finished 10th).
The Gunners haven't suffered three successive Premier League defeats since January 2012.
Arsenal have conceded on average 1.43 goals per league game in 2017; their highest rate in a calendar year since 1965 (1.77).
Since winning three of their first four Premier League trips to London (L1), Bournemouth have lost five of their last six (D1), losing most recently 0-4 to Spurs in April last season.
There have been just eight previous instances of a side losing their opening four games to a Premier League season; the last being Southampton in 2012-13. Of these eight sides, four have been relegated.
Arsene Wenger has won more Premier League matches at Arsenal (458 of 793 games) than the other 19 managers in the competition have won in the competition at their current clubs combined (379 of 907 games).
Jermain Defoe has scored against Arsenal for three different clubs in the Premier League (West Ham, Tottenham & Sunderland) - the only player to have scored versus the Gunners in the competition for more clubs is Darren Bent (5).
This is a massive game for Arsenal. A few years ago I would have said Arsenal to win 3-0 or 4-0, however, I just don't see that now. I am going to favour Arsenal slightly but something just tells me they are not going to win. I watched the game at Liverpool and they were an embarrassment. I just don't know how you turn that around, especially after the international break as all the players have been apart for over a week.
Bournemouth will go to the Emirates and have a real go and that's the best way to do it in my opinion. This Arsenal team are good going forward but they are terrible at the back.
I am going to give Arsenal the edge but I wouldn't be surprised at all if there was a shock in this one. This is certainly not going to be a walk in the park for the Gunners.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (15/2 with Sky Bet)