Bournemouth vs Arsenal preview: Joshua King may return
Watch live on Super Sunday on Sky Sports Premier League at 1.30pm
Last Updated: 25/11/18 12:22pm
Bournemouth striker Joshua King could provide boss Eddie Howe with a major boost by returning to action in Sunday's home Premier League game against Arsenal.
Norway international King has been sidelined for a month and will be assessed after missing the Cherries' last four games due to an ankle injury.
"Joshua King has improved and trained with the group and we'll be excited if he is fit," said Howe on Friday.
"We're a lot better than we were after the Newcastle game, when we had a number of players with knocks.
"The (international) break has given us the chance to nurse our players and we'll look at them all and assess their fitness ahead of Sunday."
Howe's side had won six of their first 10 league games before successive defeats to Manchester United and Newcastle and sit sixth in the table.
Arsenal are four points and one place ahead of them, but their rapid progress under Unai Emery has been checked by three straight Premier League draws.
"I think on paper this weekend's game is set up to be a very good game," Howe added.
"Arsenal have outstanding attacking players and a good look about their team, it will be a tough game.
"If one to 11 we are very good, then we can do well. It will be an interesting game to see which attack comes out on top and it will be a great battle for our defenders as well."
For the visitors, captain Laurent Koscielny is stepping up his return from an Achilles injury he suffered in the Europa League semi-final defeat to Atletico Madrid in May.
Emery has not ruled out slowly introducing Koscielny back into action, starting with Monday's U23 fixture against Derby.
"The process with him is that in this International break, it is to finish training with us every day to start playing, little by little," he said.
"First, our idea is to start with the Under-23s, but also, these two weeks training with us, I am looking at him. He is well, with good performance, good feeling and I think he is close to also playing with us.
"But the first idea is, and maybe on Monday, he can play with the 23s. We are going to decide tomorrow the plan with him, but we are thinking for him to start to take minutes."
King could return for Bournemouth having missed their last four Premier League games due to an ankle injury and will be assessed by Howe.
Meanwhile, full-back Adam Smith is definitely out and faces a long spell on the sidelines after sustaining a knee injury in the defeat at Newcastle before the international break.
The visitors will be without a quartet of defenders for their trip to the south coast. While Sokratis Papastathopoulos has recovered from an ankle injury to give Emery more options at the back, Koscielny (Achilles), Konstantinos Mavropanos (groin), Nacho Monreal and Stephan Lichtsteiner (both hamstring) are all still missing.
Danny Welbeck (ankle) is a long-term absentee, but Mohamed Elneny is fit again following a thigh complaint.
- Bournemouth have won just one of their six Premier League meetings with Arsenal (D1 L4), though it was in their last such match (2-1 in January).
- Arsenal have never failed to score in their seven previous meetings with Bournemouth in all competitions, netting 17 goals in total.
- Bournemouth have lost their last two Premier League games, as many as they had in their previous 12 in the competition (W8 D2 L2).
- After a run of 25 Premier League games without a draw, Arsenal's last three in the competition have all ended level. The Gunners have conceded first in all three.
- Arsenal have scored at least twice in each of their last five Premier League away games. Only once have they had a longer such run in the competition (7 between December 2010 and April 2011).
- Bournemouth lost their last home Premier League match against Man Utd - they've not lost consecutive games at the Vitality Stadium since August 2017.
- Arsenal have scored more goals via substitutes than any other team in the Premier League this season (7). Indeed, six of their last 10 goals in the competition have been scored by subs.
This is one of those games that make you look silly and I say that because if Bournemouth went and won this 2-0, you would not flinch. And if Arsenal went and won it 5-0, you would not flinch either.
It is a hard one, but I find it hard to look past Arsenal against teams of a lesser quality who open the game up and say, 'you have a shot, we have a shot.' Arsenal's downfall is when they do that against the better teams, they get beat.
I think it will be high scoring, so I'm going for Arsenal to win 3-2, although I will give it to both managers, they will have a go and like to open the game up. But Arsenal just have that extra bit of quality…
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-3