Morning folks and happy match day to you. Well, hopefully it’s a happy match day, because let’s face it, if Arsenal lose today we’ll all be grumpy as sin come full time, quite unbearable for our partners or family and generally have a crappy rest of the Saturday. So it’s a ‘happy match day’ until it isn’t, can we agree?

Yesterday I did a bit of a look at Bournemouth so I won’t dwell on them too much today, as we had Mikel’s presser and we have an Arsenal set up to think of, but just touching on it I think we’ll probably see a Bournemouth side playing with a back three, looking to be compact, trying to take advantage with breakdowns and set pieces against us. Against Villa they scored from a set piece corner and then their second goal was in a second phase build up following a free kick swung in to the box, so I think that’ll be their blueprint today; get the ball up in to our half, look for free kicks, corners, throw ins, etc, then use some pretty decent aerial threat attacking players to cause us problems. Think Brentford away last year and how they dominated us aerially throughout the match.

Here’s the good thing though: we’re a very different Arsenal team this time around. Firstly, we have an aerial presence amongst our back line today that wasn’t there at the beginning of last season. In  that game against Brentford we had White, Mari, Tierney and Chambers at the back. Chambers had a torried time, White was playing his first game for the club and Pablo Mari is six foot five with a leap that takes him to six foot six. So we got done. But my hope for this year when we face opponents like Bournemouth today, is that we can counter any aerial threat with our own big lads at the back. Gabriel is six foot three, Saliba is six foot four, White is six foot (I’m assuming he plays at right back. Of course Zinchenko is smaller, but his position is such that if we’re transitioned on we will have moved to a back three with White, Gabriel and Saliba covering the three zones spread across the pitch and so they can win any aerial balls. And Zinchenko won’t be marking Kieffer Moore on corners and set pieces, that’s for sure (or at least I hope not). So I hope we can negate Brentford’s clear threat in the air.

We’ve also got more confidence about us now. Two wins and a good pre season has helped that and although the sample size is small, seeing the resilience to come back from conceding those two goals against Leicester so quickly, had me hoping that when we eventually go behind, this won’t be an Arsenal team that has no chance to win a game of football. In the league Arteta has managed to come behind just once in his managerial career and you feel like he’ll need a few of those kinds of results to get that particular monkey off his back.

Hopefully not today though. I’d like us to go ahead and stay ahead, thank you very much. It won’t be easy – no game is in the Premier League – but as Arteta said in his press conference yesterday there will be a raucous atmosphere from the home support who have become accustomed to seeing their side win football matches. They beat Villa on the first game of the season and as a newly promoted team that first win is vital in the Premier League; it inspires confidence that you deserve to be there and gives the home support hope that they can do well this season. So I’m expecting them to be loud and proud and we have to stop that by starting fast.

Team news is all good news. Arteta confirmed that we have a clean bill of health and Vieira and Smith Rowe are ready to join the first team after playing in midweek for the u23s. Tomiyasu and Tierney have played minutes as a sub in the league and that mean they too are ready. It means our bench will look strong and we’ll have options for Arteta to call on, but for me you don’t change a winning team. This team started picking up results in pre season, they’ve got two out of two so far this season in the Premier League and the message it sends to players is that every one of them fights for the jersey.

I also think tactically it’s the right thing to do. Zinchenko tucking in to midfield when we are further up the pitch and pushing Xhaka further up the pitch is an approach which is working. Teams haven’t quite figured it out yet and it might take them a few more games of scouting us before they can calibrate to counter the set up we have. So with that in mind we should stick to that and it is what I am expecting from Arteta today. On the right you can make an argument for Tomiyasu; I think he’s a better right back from Ben White but with the way the team is playing, the confidence that has been flowing through the side, I think that has to be a “you’ve earned the right to keep the jersey son” conversation. Tomi will be patient, he’ll get his chances and he’ll get games. And White will get chances on the right and the centre of defence, of that I have no doubt.

We can’t take anything for granted. Bournemouth in mid season or two-thirds in to the season, if they’re down there having lost a few games and confidence is low, would be a very different opposition to the one we get today. They’ll have a little more swagger today and so perhaps there is an argument that it is a more difficult time to play them. Then again, perhaps that swagger draws them out a bit and if that happens then we look to our attacking players to do the business. So Gabriel Jesus to find pockets of space, Martinelli to terrorise Smith and Lermer would be nice, but if he doesn’t get joy then let’s have that right hand side having a go in the shape of Odegaard and Saka on Kelly. That’s the good thing about us this season; it looks like we can try different things. We’re no longer reliant on just one flank to do the business and if we need to flick it to the other side then so be it. That’s the hope, anyway. Whether that is the reality remains to be seen, although I have faith, despite how early in the season it is and how we haven’t got too many data points to go on.

I’ll be watching from my back garden as I fire up the BBQ today so my hope is that in the West London sun, Arsenal can do the business on the south coast and bring home three points.

Catch you all tomorrow.