Two clubs perhaps looking for a little distraction from league action meet in the fourth round of the FA Cup when Bournemouth host Arsenal at the Vitality Stadium (3pm ET Monday).
The Premier League season hasn’t gone the way that either club would have hoped. After a series of mid-table finishes, Bournemouth find themselves in a relegation scrap. Arsenal are down in 10th, way off the top-four finish that was their pre-season target.
In Bournemouth’s case, it is a continuation of the steady downward path they have been on over the last few seasons. After an excellent ninth-place finish in 2016-17, they finished 12th in 2017-18 and then 14th last time out. Right now, they are down in 18th, the final relegation place, level on points with those above and below them.
The Cherries actually began the season pretty well, winning three of their first six matches and suffering just three defeats across their first 10. Things have derailed since. A five-match losing streak from November into December was followed by a single victory and then another run of six winless matches, five of them defeats. They took just four points from that 12-match sequence.
For perhaps the first time since his return to the club in 2012, Eddie Howe is starting to come under a bit of pressure. It was partially alleviated by Tuesday’s 3-1 win at home to Brighton, in which Harry and Callum Wilson scored either side of a Brighton own goal, but Bournemouth remain second favorites with the top rated American bookmakers to be relegated.
The FA Cup has not generally been a competition in which Bournemouth have made any significant progress in recent years. They have been dumped out in the third round in each of the last three seasons and haven’t made it further than the fifth round this millennium. But after a 4-0 win over Championship side Luton in this year’s third round, they might just fancy their chances of progressing once again this weekend.
Arsenal are the most successful team in the history of the FA Cup, with 13 triumphs to their credit, and lifted the trophy three times in four seasons between 2014 and 2017. That hasn’t rendered them immune to early eliminations in each of the last two seasons. They went out in the third round two years ago and to Manchester United in last year’s fourth round.
Their progress to this stage of this year’s competition was also slightly fortuitous. By most accounts, the Gunners were outplayed by Leeds in their third-round contest earlier this month, only to take victory thanks to Reiss Nelson’s early second-half strike.
That was one of just two wins that Arsenal have recorded across their last 20 fixtures in all competitions. In the Premier League this season they have drawn a league-high 12 matches and only actually won six times, the same number as Bournemouth. Neither does the appointment of Mikel Arteta seem to have solved the season. In his six league matches at the helm, Arsenal have drawn four times.
That is the primary reason they find themselves just inside the top 10 and a full 10 points off Chelsea in fourth. The inconsistencies of those around and above them means that a top five or six finish is still very much within reach. They really need to stop drawing so many games, even if they do produce entertaining encounters like their come-from-behind 2-2 draw with Chelsea on Tuesday. That was achieved despite playing for over an hour with 10 men.
It won’t surprise you to find out that Bournemouth and Arsenal played out a 1-1 draw when they met at the Vitality Stadium on Boxing Day in what was Arteta’s debut as Arsenal head coach. This time around, the result may simply come down to which of the two teams treats the tie more seriously.
Our Preview’s Bournemouth vs Arsenal Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
Bournemouth have a real relegation battle on their hands and it would be entirely understandable if they were to rest a few key players. Arsenal are in a more comfortable position and can afford to field a team strong enough to see them through to the next round. So this is our Bournemouth vs Arsenal prediction for this FA Cup game:
- Bet on Arsenal to win @ best odds of -105 with BetOnline.