Previewing Bournemouth v Arsenal: Ball, teammate, opponent, space. Those are the 4 things Mikel Arteta told his players they’ll be working on. Even in the short training video that Arsenal Media put out, it was clear that there’s a lot more to it, but presenting his instructions simply was one of his stated aims.
The next thing in the video was about Mikel telling players not to turn with the ball. Instead to pass it to their teammates and create space that way. David Luiz seemed to get some praise from the new coach for his efforts at passing, while Lacazette and Xhaka both got some more instruction.
I say new coach, and Arsenal only just announced 3 more additions to their coaching staff, but Arteta seems like he’s been here forever. He just fits. His lack of experience doesn’t affect his knowledge, nor it seems, his ability to speak with authority. He speaks not just like a tactical coach, but also as a leader. Something we know he is from his time with us as our captain.
Wenger’s true successor
Arsenal now have Wenger’s true successor and he will be very successful, of this I am sure. He’s determined to succeed, and unafraid to speak his mind. I am also happy Freddie is sticking around. He did a good job in difficult circumstances. Despite my initial disappointment of Ljungberg not getting the job till the summer, I am convinced now that Arteta is the right decision. Just as he was 18 months ago.
That seems like time wasted. But sometimes, things work out for the better. Now we have the manager, an assistant, the academy manager, and the technical director, all of whom played for Arsenal under Arsene Wenger. (What was that about it not being Arsene FC?)
The Head of Football must be feeling a bit chastised after the very obvious efforts he made to get rid of the identity the club had so painstakingly built. Arteta represents a return to the club’s roots and values. Both in terms of tradition, but also in moving forward. The club hopefully has gotten its post Wenger hangover out of the way and has woken up. If it hasn’t Mikel’s force of personality and character will ensure it does.
This is supposed to be a preview of the Bournemouth game, so forgive the Arteta love in. But it really feels like a landmark moment to me. Mikel Arteta will be taking charge of his first game for Arsenal.
As far as opponents go, Bournemouth might be a good one to start with. Eddie Howe’s team don’t apply the aggressive defensive pressure that we often have a problem dealing with. Nor do they tend to play dirty. That should help us ease into the new patterns and techniques of passing that Arteta is trying to drill into us. They’ve actually conceded less goals than us, but that says more about us under Emery than it tells us about Bournemouth. On the other side of things, Bournemouth have created only 192 shots and scored only 19. Their biggest goal threat is, surprisingly, Harry Wilson, on loan from Liverpool, scoring 6 from 28 shots. Callum Wilson and Josh King can also find the net. Look for previously rumored Arsenal target Ryan Fraser to send in crosses from the right. Control space and pay attention to their runs and we ought to be able to hold them off.
11th vs 14th in the table and neither side can really argue their performances have deserved much better. But it’s a clean slate for everyone at Arsenal now. Maybe we shouldn’t expect too much too soon, but I can’t help but be excited. About everything. The press conference/interviews. The training videos. How we’ll set up, and how we’ll line up.
Team news: Chambers is suspended after the booking he picked up against Everton. Holding, Tierney and Kolasinac are still out. As is Martinelli with a hamstring issue. He’s back in training but it might be a little too early for Dani Ceballos to feature.
Starting XI: Leno, Bellerin, Luiz, Sokratis, Saka, Torreira, Xhaka, Pepe, Ozil, Nelson, Auba
Subs: Martinez, Mavropanos, AMN, Guendouzi, Willock, ESR, Lacazette
Prediction: I’m going for us to have a controlled game in possession but interspersed with the odd mistake in defense. We might even give up the first goal. But I’m sure we’ll start the Arteta era with a win to mark the occasion. 3-1 to the good guys.