Team news, stats and prediction ahead of Bournemouth vs Arsenal preview in the Premier League on Boxing Day.
Bournemouth left-back Diego Rico is absent due to suspension following his fifth booking of the season, while Howe also has a number of players out injured, including Nathan Ake (hamstring).
Adam Smith (ankle), Harry Wilson (thigh), Arnaut Danjuma (foot), Charlie Daniels (knee), Lloyd Kelly (thigh) and David Brooks (ankle) remain long-term absentees.
"I am not expecting huge changes to the team. We had a couple of worries after the (Burnley) game, but I don't want to reveal who they are," Howe added.
Ryan Fraser (knock) and Simon Francis (head) will be assessed.
Arsenal will be without the suspended Calum Chambers but Sokratis returns after serving his one-match ban while full-back Hector Bellerin is available.
Dani Ceballos is back in training after a hamstring injury but teenage forward Gabriel Martinelli is a doubt with the same problem.
How to follow
Follow the action with our dedicated live blog. Highlights of the game will be published just after full-time on the Sky Sports website and app plus the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel.
- Bournemouth have won just one of their 10 meetings in all competitions with Arsenal (D1 L8), coming from behind to win 2-1 at home in January 2018.
- Arsenal have won seven of their nine Premier League meetings with Bournemouth (D1 L1), never failing to score against the Cherries.
- Bournemouth are winless in all four of their Premier League Boxing Day games (D2 L2), with all of these matches coming against London sides. They've drawn both such games at home (0-0 with Crystal Palace, 3-3 with West Ham).
- Of current Premier League sides, only Man Utd (80%) have a higher win percentage on Boxing Day in the competition than Arsenal (62% - won 13/21). However, away from home the Gunners have won just one of their last five such games (D3 L1).
- Bournemouth have lost six of their last seven Premier League games, with the exception being a 1-0 win at Chelsea in that run. At home, the Cherries are looking to avoid losing four consecutive league games for the first time since September 2011.
- Arsenal drew 0-0 at Everton in their last away league game - they've not kept back-to-back clean sheets on the road in the Premier League since February 2016, the second game of which was a 2-0 win at Bournemouth and followed a goalless draw.
- Arsenal will be starting a top-flight Boxing Day game in the bottom half of the table for the first time since 1983-84 (12th), when they won 4-2 against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.
- Bournemouth have had just two shots on target in their last 273 minutes of Premier League football and have failed to land a single shot on target in two of their last three matches.
- Arsenal's Mesut Özil has been directly involved in five goals in his five Premier League appearances against Bournemouth (3 goals, 2 assists). Against no side has the German scored more Premier League goals than he has against the Cherries.
- Mikel Arteta will take charge of his first game as Arsenal manager in this match. At 37y 275d on the day of the game, he's the youngest person to take charge of the Gunners since Terry Neill in 1976 (34y 105d in his first game).
Charlie Nicholas' prediction
I hope it is a good news story for Mikel Arteta's first game. As much as I am pleased, Freddie Ljungberg will be most pleased that Arteta is in. His comments on the Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette situations were shameful. What was he saying?
I will support all of the youngsters wholeheartedly, but the one thing I already like about Arteta is that he had them in on Sunday, which show his leadership qualities already, to say this is poor and start straight away to get them in and rebuild.
When Nicolas Pepe settles in, with Lacazette through middle, Arsenal are a really encouraging front three with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Arteta cannot sort the defence, and he will go with a more aggressive mentality, and this will begin to pay off in this match.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-3 (12/1 with Sky Bet)
More work for Mikel?
Although 71 per cent of Super 6 players are expecting a winning start for Mikel Arteta as Arsenal boss, a mere 3.3 per cent are hoping for a 1-0 victory for Bournemouth, which could highlight Arsenal's woes even more so. Play here for free.