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After a rousing midweek home defeat of Everton (4-0, in case you’ve forgotten), on Saturday the Cherries of AFC Bournemouth visit the Grove for another 3 pm (London time) kickoff. Bournemouth come to play in the throes of a relegation-centric campaign, under new ownership, and with 3rd-highest odds of 9/1 that coach Gary O’Neil will be the next Premier League manager to sit on the tin tack. Two draws and a win from their last 5 are an improvement only considering the rest of their 11 games since the World Cup are losses. As I have feared too often this season, we have a banana skin of a game on our hands. Of course, if we weren’t top of the league (did you know?) we’d play fewer teams that could prat our fall, as it were, so there’s that.

Bournemouth’s battle to stay up is in high gear, with only 3 points keeping them off the bottom of the table. Yet in the absence of other results a win at the Grove would drive them above West Ham into 16th place. They have been hit by injuries to some of their key players, including Cook and Tavernier, neither expected to start, if indeed to see the bench on Saturday. O’Neil has played a variety of teams and lineups in hopes of finding something that works; 5 at the back against City last Saturday decidedly did not. Expect to see Neto in goal, record-signing Lerma in midfield alongside Biling, Quattara, and Traore in support of Solanke up front. Smith, Stephens, Senesi, and Zemura will defend, with Mepham as first substitute or a fifth defender depending on how they line up. Their desire to win will be strong, and Arsenal will have to keep attention and focus high to avoid slipping up.

As for Arsenal, there are more than nine stories to tell about their season so far, and one of them is the emergence of William Saliba as our Rolls Royce-esque defender par excellence. When we played Bournemouth on the South Coast in August his defensive nous continued to blossom in full view of a worried home crowd, and he scored what will likely be his goal of the season from the edge of the box. If supporters’ use of the “Tequila”-based chant had been occasional and somewhat faltering before the goal, after such sublimity they sounded off in a swell of away support that has continued at every game since. His strong partnership with Gabriel in the center of defense should enable us to resist the low-scoring Cherries’ attempts on goal; that Bournemouth are one of four teams under 20 goals so far this season will make that an easier task.

We return to the Grove with only one notable injury concern from the Everton game, and that’s Eddie’s knock picked up from an assault by the balance-challeged Onana in the final minutes of Eddie’s superb substitute appearance. He is expected to face a late fitness test, and if he appears at all it will be from the bench behind Trossard. Jorghino, removed from the Everton game at the half due to illness, is reported to be back to 100%; he will likely start from the bench as well, given Partey’s return to full fitness. It is possible Arteta will change some things around, but I expect he will want the starting 11 to retain a razor’s edge sharpness regardless of the quality of our opponent. So we should line up as follows:


White — Saliba — Gabriel — Zinchenko

Partey — Mø — Xhaka

Saka — Trossard — Martinelli

Expect changes earlier than usual to give bench players time to play if Arsenal score early, and hopefully often. Bournemouth’s goals against are the highest in the division, averaging two per game against less than one per game they score. Remember, this is the team that shipped 16 goals in three games earlier this season, leading to ex-manager Scott “the Vest” Parker’s sacking after his fourth game. Let’s hope their defense has returned to that sort of form, and given evidence from their last loss seeing us win 3- or 4-0 would not be a surprise. But again, it’s a perfect day…

The Holic’s Pound

If you fancy a punt on the game anything less than an Arsenal 4-0 win will get you less than 10s, but Arsenal 4-1 Bournemouth will nearly double that at 18/1. Arsenal 5-0 gets you 21/1, but add a Bournemouth goal and 5-1 lands on 35/1. Xhaka or Jorginho are on for first goalscorer at 18/1.

For those of you going, enjoy the game and the cool, cloudy London afternoon, hopefully fortified by a fine pre-game lunch at the pub or restaurant of choice (calling Don Carlo…). Even though “it’s only Bournemouth” bring your voices and roar our lads on as you’ve done all year, every game, let’s keep the Grove a fortress visiting teams fear to visit. Let’s continue with our “gorgeous arrogance” (courtesy Peter Drury) and bring home another win, Gunners!

68 Drinks to “A Perfect Day for Bananaskin?”

  1. 1
    Trev says:

    Do excuse me, scruz, but before I get to your preview I was about to answer – sort of – C100’s question in the previous bar about fitness testing of the players.

    The essential elements will be straight line sprinting, agility testing, repeat sprint ability and VO2Max testing. They are the factors which determine cardio-vascular and aerobic fitness. VO2Max is the rate at which the player is able to take up oxygen during exercise. It is measured by the number of millilitres breathed in, per kilogram of body weight, per minute. A “success “ rate is age dependent but there will not be that much range in a Premier League squad.

    Those tests will be compared to measurements taken in pre-season, as will other muscle endurance tests to give an idea of an approaching “red zone”.

    Hope that makes some sense.

    Back to the preview anon.

  2. 2
    scruzgooner says:

    no worries, trev. enjoyed your answer to ttg, enjoy the post!

  3. 3
    North Bank Ned says:

    Fine preview, Scruz. If you strip out the 16 goals Bournemouth shipped in three games towards the start of the season, their goals-against record ‘improves’ to lower-mid-table form (which is also their goal-scoring form). That said our newly metamorphic front three of Saka, Trossard and Martinelli should be able to breach their defences more than once.

    To pick up on C100 and TTG’s discussion about rotation in the previous drinks, I lean toward C100’s view, but there is another way to rest players: by getting starters off early. A quality bench allows Arteta the luxury of making substitutions strategically and tactically. It also allows more latitude with injuries. We don’t have to risk Eddie on Saturday if he is not 100% fit, and ESR can continue to be eased back into action very gently.

  4. 4
    North Bank Ned says:

    Trev@1: What does an approaching red zone mean in that context? Speed or intensity duration starting to cease improving with training? Or something else? Being of that generation for which the only reason to crouch down at the start of a footrace was to stub out our cigars, this modern medical malarky is a black box.

  5. 5
    Trev says:

    Well played, scruz – although I can’t imagine any day being perfect for a banana skin – especially just now.

    Team picks itself and no new injury problems – another remarkable improvement on the situation that prevailed for a number of years.

    I like the sound of 5-0 – someone is going to get a pasting soon – let’s hope it’s tomorrow, without wishing Bournemouth any particular harm.

  6. 6
    TTG says:

    Firstly Scruz, thanks for an excellent and comprehensive preview . Your ability to keep in touch with events in N5 is uncanny and admirable.
    Secondly Trev, thanks for a really helpful summary of fitness considerations. Arteta will get slaughtered if a number of players drop off tye fitness twig but there again he will get slaughtered if we drop points if the media perceive players are running on empty . One has to say this aspect of team management has been well dealt with this year . Playing Saka puts him at risk of being kicked from pillar to post but how can you not play a boy with his skill if he is fit? Anyway from his booking record it is clear PL defenders are more at risk from the butchery of Saka than the other way round .
    As to tomorrow we should win in convincing fashion but football isn’t like that . Let’s hope it is tomorrow and is banana skin free 🍌

  7. 7
    Trev says:

    Ned, the achievable maxima during re-testing, which is happening all the time, tailing off compared to the benchmarks set at the end of pre-season, is my take.

  8. 8
    Bathgooner says:

    Great preview, scruz. I hope that we can reproduce the vim and vigour of Wednesday’s heavenly period without a 40 minute purgatorial prodrome. Our spirit should see us through. COYG

  9. 9
    TTG says:

    From the last drinks
    We appreciate your kind words enormously and love your contributions whenever you feel able to make them
    Hang in there and may the team lift your mood and add to your strength and energy

  10. 10
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cheers scruz. Lovely stuff.

    No banana skins please.

  11. 11
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    dg. From last drinks…

    As Dave would always remind us, “football is the most important of the unimportant things.”

    We are always pleased to hear from you, and always pleased to know you’re lurking even when you don’t post.

    Lurking is a proud tradition in this bar, so keep it up!

    All the best, and I hope Arsenal keep giving you cause to smile!

  12. 12
    Bathgooner says:

    DG, what TTG and GSD said. Good to see you in the bar. Thanks for the kind words.

    Meanwhile a superb analysis of the contribution of our Wizard, OZ, unfortunately behind a paywall:


  13. 13
    bt8 says:

    Excellent preview scruz and you are right to bring up the spectre of banana skins if only to make us a tad more nervous. 😎

    I am surprised you didn’t quote the odds on Saliba to score. Doesn’t he always choke the cherries?

  14. 14
    scruzgooner says:

    thanks, all. i was going to dive deeper into their pre-2023 history, but got bored by it, and figured it wasn’t necessary. they’re a very humble team, more congratulations to them for being up most of the last decade (they’re the longest serving team by years in the old 3d division).

    ned, you had me check my math and edit my post with those 16 goals @3. thanks! i almost made that point, but hey, it’s part of their season, and we shipped them 3 then, so we *should* be on track for another tonking (banana skins notwithstanding).

    bt8@13, it’s 18/1 for saliba to score any time. have a crack!

  15. 15
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Mouthwatering preview Scruz! There are times in the season when as a fan you cannot just wait for the next match. We seem to be enjoying such a moment right now and instead of thinking ahead (or looking back) at all I would just like to enjoy every match as an event unto itself.

    Your first eleven is the likeliest. Hope Eddie recovers soon, but even if we’re fully fit I think the dynamism offered by Martinelli-Trossard combo may have made up Mikel’s mind anyway in favor of keeping the front three unchanged.

    Come on Arsenal!

  16. 16
    Poststicker says:

    DG – know that the lurkers are all pulling for you.

    Lonestar – great to see you back as a regular. I recall reading about your Maui trip – was it really 11 years ago?

  17. 17
    North Bank Ned says:

    Trev@7: Thanks. That all makes sense. If tailing off is the measure, I must have been approaching the red zone these past 40 years…

  18. 18
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks scruz, a fine preview covering all the salient points. Probably the easiest game left this season in theory, course theory, unlike Thierry, doesn’t get many goals. I was rereading my own preview of Bournemouth away back in August and see I predicted relegation by April for them – bit harsh perhaps but another 3-0 whacking today should help them on their way.

  19. 19
    Ollie says:

    Cheers scruz! Hopefully three comfortable points today, but it never happens this way, I’ll take any victory.

  20. 20
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Thanks Scruz
    I’m thinking that Bournemouth will come for a draw and feeling that we’ll win 2-0.

  21. 21
    Esso says:

    Cheers Scruz!

  22. 22
    Esso says:

  23. 23
    Esso says:

    Vieira starts at ‘left 8’?

  24. 24
    Esso says:

    Eddie not in squad.

  25. 25
    OsakaMatt says:

    Eddie was doubtful before the game so I guess he didn’t make it.

    Vieira going to need to be disciplined when goes wandering during
    game, anyway good to see him get a chance, Tomi too.

  26. 26
    OsakaMatt says:

    When Zin goes wandering I meant to say….

  27. 27
    North Bank Ned says:

    Reiss Nelson back.

    Subs: Turner, Tierney, White, Kiwior, Holding, Jorginho, Xhaka, Nelson, Smith Rowe

  28. 28
    scruzgooner says:

    according to some dude on twitter arsenal are starting a team for the first time since april 1986 that doesn’t feature any player who started for arsene wenger!

  29. 29
    Uplympian says:

    Thanks Scruz for another well considered preview – I always marvel at our ‘merkans knowledge and enthusiasm for a team so afar.
    As others have already stated this should be one of our easier matches ( not many come under that category in the EPL ). Of course, without the right mind set / application that slippery banana skin is ready to appear. I expect the boss will have them set up properly and I’m looking for 3-0 to the good guys. Interesting team – is he rotating a little with the Europa in mind? He’s on record in stating that Viera has been showing up in training, this is probably the sort of game to see if it replicates on the pitch.

  30. 30
    bt8 says:


    A chance for FV to show what the team can do sans GX.

  31. 31
    Gooner_KS says:

    5:1 is on the card then

  32. 32
    Sancho Panza says:

    Massive 45 minutes coming up.

  33. 33
    Sancho Panza says:

    Oh ffs.

  34. 34
    Gooner_KS says:

    Fuck fuck fuck

  35. 35
    Sancho Panza says:

    Golly gosh

  36. 36
    OsakaMatt says:

    My word

  37. 37
    Gooner_KS says:

    We’ll never get a penalty for handball ffs

  38. 38
    Sancho Panza says:


  39. 39
    OsakaMatt says:

    Pon my soul

  40. 40
    OsakaMatt says:

    Now that was never say die

  41. 41
    North Bank Ned says:

    Reiss Nelson back with a bang.

  42. 42
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Get the ever loving fuck in!

    Come on you Reds!

  43. 43
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Are you watching, Man City?

  44. 44
    OsakaMatt says:

    Very very happy with the three points but not sure my heart can take 12 more like that.
    Anyway, Partey, Ben White and Reiss Nelson aren’t the three goal scorers you’d expect but they certainly got us out of Durham today.

  45. 45
    Gooner_KS says:

    Never in doubt (nose getting close to a foot long)
    Get iiiiiin, COYG 💪

  46. 46
    scruzgooner says:

    what. a. team.

    a perfect day for banana skin, indeed. with cherries on top.

  47. 47
    Gooner_KS says:

    Can it get better? Ask Wolves

  48. 48
    OsakaMatt says:

    Yeah that was funny, same old spuds

  49. 49
    scruzgooner says:

    battered everywhere they gooooo!

  50. 50
    scruzgooner says:

    yellow card, but get in.

  51. 51
    Cynic says:

    Only just seen the Nelson goal as I was out. I’m assuming our game will be the Game of the Day on Sky tonight though, so I will watch it all then. If the drummer had a day off, that is.


    Oh and for those yet to see it https://twitter.com/i/status/1632066919443382275

  52. 52
    Bathgooner says:

    Just floating in the air here after that. Champion performance.

  53. 53
    scruzgooner says:

    love it, cynic. great clip.

    i am with you, bath, floating and dancing and punching the air…

  54. 54
    Bathgooner says:

    Sadly, Cynic, the arrhythmic twat was there. Just turn the sound off if you can hear him. Have to say I didn’t notice him in the second half.

  55. 55
    Cynic says:

    Get a movement going. And when you’ve finished, throw it at the drummer.

    I blame the decline in religion for all this you know*. Back in the day people like that would be a on a street corner with the Sally Army band and get their fill of it all.

    *That and the Jairmans. Imported fan wankery.

    *puts whinge cushion away*

  56. 56
    bt8 says:

    Never say die indeed. What a last minute winner. Hope Trossard recovers soon but we have Nelson waiting in the wings. And how.

  57. 57
  58. 58
    Ollie says:

    My 19 said it all.
    What a win! Nearly back in Paris, thought my heart would fail me at the end of the match.
    What a team!
    Also 1-0 or 2-0 down, not a moan around me, only support. These are the best days.

  59. 59
    Bathgooner says:

    Just watched the whole game again and the MotD highlights.

    Unbelievable performance. Silly errors to concede twice but not one head dropped. The whole team displayed steely determination to grab all three points despite mass defence and no luck with the bounce of the ball in the box or decisions on penalty incidents. True contenders. Props to the crowd for constant encouragement. Huge win. Onward.

    Hope Trossard and Nketiah aren’t crocked for long. Jesús back in two weeks?

    Well done Gunners and Gooners.

  60. 60
    Lonestar Gooner says:

    Poststicker@16 – cheers, mate! Tempus fugit. Glad to be back in the number.

    DG – sending good vibes your way.

    What. A. Hit. I’m still buzzing. Hale End standing up and being counted.

    Win the next match.


  61. 61
    Lonestar Gooner says:

    Excellent preview, Scruz!


  62. 62
    scruzgooner says:

    thanks again all. what a game. just spent a quarter hour watching the last two minutes plus afters again and again. COME ON ARSENAL!

  63. 63
    TTG says:

    If you want to teach someone to hit a half volley watch that Nelso shot ( not a tough watch!)
    His control of the ball, adjustment of his balance and connection with his left foot were absolutely perfect . You require a very cool temperament to deliver like that . He has yet to play 90 minutes in the league and has 3 goals and two assists . Richarlison eat your heart out .
    As 70 points is the long term average for CL qualification , we will need three wins to be fairly certain of top four . But we have bigger fish to fry

  64. 64
    Countryman100 says:

    I urge you all to read Arseblog this morning. Even though he wasn’t there, and was watching from his sofa in Dublin, he sums up the way I felt, we all felt, yesterday evening. Just brilliant.


  65. 65
    TTG says:

    Just thinking the same thing C100
    The boy has a way with words

  66. 66
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I’m basking and floating and buzzing and my throat is hoarse and I can’t get this grin off my face and I bloody love The Arsenal!

  67. 67
    Bathgooner says:

    If you haven’t read Mike McDonald’s piece this morning, I urge you to do so, one of the best of several very good analyses out there:

    Football, wow! The Emirates witnesses its most memorable moment to date [ARS 3-2 BOU] (Positives Needs & Hopes)

  68. 68
    Bathgooner says: