Arsenal travel to the Vitality Stadium to face newly promoted Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday evening.
After watching a thoroughly forgettable 0-0 draw against Everton from the stands, Mikel Arteta’s first-ever match as Arsenal manager was down on the south coast against Bournemouth in December 2019.
Two and a half years later, here’s the XI Arteta may deploy to improve upon the 1-1 draw his charges achieved that day.
GK: Aaron Ramsdale – Voted as Bournemouth’s player of the year when the club were relegated in 2019/20. Ramsdale has never had the Cherries as an opponent in his senior career.
RB: Ben White – In four consecutive seasons between 2017 and 2021, White climbed England’s professional footballing pyramid in sequential order.
CB: William Saliba – With the memory of a stellar debut away to Crystal Palace fresh in the minds of those at the Emirates, the crowd responded to Saliba’s own goal against Leicester with a primal roar of encouragement.
CB: Gabriel – In a run going back to April 2021, Arsenal have lost the last four Premier League matches Gabriel has missed.
LB: Oleksandr Zinchenko – The youngest scorer and captain in the history of Ukraine’s men’s national team has adapted rapidly to life in north London.
CM: Thomas Partey – The Ghana international enjoyed his nickname ‘The Octopus’ so much that he got a cephalopod tattooed on his arm.
CM: Granit Xhaka – Last weekend, Xhaka scored and provided an assist in the same game for the first time in his Arsenal career.
AM: Martin Odegaard – Arsenal were one of several European clubs that initially jostled for Odegaard’s signature after he burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old, losing out to Real Madrid before getting their player six years later.
RW: Bukayo Saka – The Hale End graduate used Jack Wilshere as proof that ‘there is a pathway’ from the academy to the first team. Last season alone, Saka scored more Premier League goals (11) than Wilshere managed in his entire career (eight).
ST: Gabriel Jesus – Arsenal’s new number nine has taken 22 touches in the opposition box so far this season, more than the entire Bournemouth team combined (18) according to FBref.
LW: Gabriel Martinelli – In a hot streak which started in May, Martinelli has directly contributed to six goals in his last five Premier League appearances (three goals, three assists).