The Best Attack In The Premier League: Why The Bournemouth 'Fab 3' Are Better Than Arsenal
Bournemouth and Arsenal have been operating at very different ends of the football pyramid over the years but Sunday lunchtime's Premier League fixture sees the team ranked sixth in the table host the side currently occupying fifth place.
It is still early days but Eddie Howe's Bournemouth have made the most of a kind fixture list and their attacking style of football has been a joy to watch, with David Brooks taking to top-flight football like the proverbial seagull takes to the nearby English channel.
While Brooks has rightly been earning rave reviews for his performances, Bournemouth's 'Fab Three' of Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser and Josh King (fitness-permitting) have been producing the goods on a regular basis and their statistics compare favourably with Arsenal's own attacking talent.
Wilson's return of six goals and five assists from twelve league appearances earned him his first full England cap during the recent international break and he has been leading the line with aplomb. Fraser has laid on more assists - six - than any other player in the Premier League, while King has had his issues with fitness this term but has still scored four goals in nine games.
Bought for a combined total of a little more than £5m, the triumvirate of Wilson-Fraser-King have scored 13 goals and laid on 12 assists in 33 league appearances between them this season, playing a part in a goal or an assist every 114 minutes on average. It is credit to Bournemouth, who have been criticised for their transfer activity in the past, that each of those players would command a sizeable resale value if they were forced to sell, with Fraser still only 24 years old, while King and Wilson are both 26.
How do they compare with Arsenal's own expensively assembled forward line?
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil were bought for an eye-watering £148.9m as the Gunners spent big in a bid to return the glory days to North London.
So far this season, the trio have scored 15 goals and effected five assists between them in 34 appearances in total - providing a goal or an assist every 128 minutes on average.
The Gunners have very different targets to those of Bournemouth when it comes to goals for the season and their forward line has little resale value as Ozil is now 30 years old, Aubameyang is 28 and Lacazette is 27, but they are hoping that those players can start filling up the trophy cabinet once more.
The early signs under Unai Emery have been promising but a run of three successive league draws ahead of Sunday's match at the Vitality Stadium would suggest Arsenal are stuttering. They will need their own 'Fab Three' to show they are worth the money.
As for Bournemouth, things will get tougher in the coming weeks as the Cherries play Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool in three of their next four games. It will tell us a lot about their own ambitions if they can start with a win against the Gunners, who they beat 2-1 at home last season.