Last week’s euphoria over winning the derby will mean precisely zero if Arsenal fail come out of Turf Moor with a positive result. The win over that lot was a highlight of how good Arsenal can be if they are locked in. However, there is plenty of other evidence on hand to demonstrate just how bad Arsenal can be if they aren’t.
Against Tottenham, we were organized and committed to the game plan we had set up and it showed in how well we handled the league’s darlings. Burnley present a two-fold challenge. They aren’t a heated rival so can we get up for them suitably and they aren’t a bottom of the table team and this is a well-coached team that is tied for points with Arsenal.
As we head into Turf Moor it should bare noting that Sean Dyche’s side have managed to take points off of Chelsea, Tottenham, and Liverpool. Any hope of merely “showing” up will likely be met with another poor result which we can ill-afford.
Burnley have hardly been an easy team for us to handle in the last few matches. In last year’s two fixtures it took last minute goals for Arsenal to put Burnley away. At Turf Moor it was a stoppage-time header by Laurent Koscielny that lead to leaving with all 3 point. It was also a stoppage time PK scored by Alexis Sanchez that saw 10-men Arsenal hold of Burnley.
Sean Dyche is a man who believes in his system and his players. People are still left scratching his head as to why he isn’t coaching anywhere else but as ESPN opined – playing attritional football is great when you are winning, but everything disappears when that goes south. Simply put could Dyche play a style of football at a club where winning is a must and you can’t just survive?
But that’s not for this blog. Dyche has his team playing good football and its what sees them sitting in 7th behind us only on goal differential. They’ve only lost twice this season letting in 3 goals versus City and losing 1-0 to West Brom. We’ve already mentioned their success against three top 6 chasers (1W 2D), this is a good team.
The worry is that Arsenal haven’t yet showed that they can consistently put together a string of similar performances. Even before our loss to Man City the winning run we went on was as frustrating as any loss as we lacked any cohesion or consistency in play and there were some winning performances that looked downright awful.
But Arsenal have a blueprint. It obviously starts with who starts in attack. Last week was only the second time that Lacazette, Sanchez, and Özil started together and it was golden.
Lacazette for not scoring posed troubles with excellent movement all day long for one of the stingiest defences in the league. Sanchez scored the winner and Mesut Özil ran the show. It was everything we had hoped we’d see when we signed the French striker. They will need to pull off a similar performance.
If Burnley have a flaw it’s their insistence on trying to catching out teams with the offside trap. With Özil’s passing and vision and Lacazette’s movement, a high line could cause Burnley problems. The Burnley defense is on a run of three matches without conceding a goal but they weren’t playing against an attack that can be as fluid as what Arsenal can demonstrate.
It’s likely the defensive 3 won’t come in under much pressure. Burnley don’t typically see a lot of possession but they are efficient with their chances. We looked strong and poised against Tottenham and much stronger attacking talent. This type of match will required a different kind of commitment. One of focus and not switching off as has been the case when we’ve played poorly.
With an entirely different XI starting to that lineup that started on Thursday in the Europa League, there aren’t a host of injuries or tired players for Wenger to be concerned about. The manager will have at his disposal to put out the strongest XI he can with a suitable supporting cast on the bench as well.
All that remains is a consistent performance that matches the level of commitment as we saw last Saturday.
Trends to Watch.
Simple, will Wenger persist with the exact XI we played with on Saturday and give the team the best chance to win or will he tinker with the lineup because they are on the road. The road hasn’t been a friendly place for Arsenal and it wouldn’t be surprising if Wenger tried to mix up the lineup to address that.
How the Match Should Play Out
We discussed earlier how efficient Burnley are. In some of their wins they’ve gone on to win with only 30 and 40% possession. That says a lot about the chances they take. They will likely look to get all 10 outfield players behind the ball and cut off Arsenal’s passing lanes. It’s a tactic we’ve seen all too many times.
The key will be how patient and effective we are in possession. Even with packed lines, Özil should still be able to find the space between two the MF and DEF lines of Burnley. If he can do that then he’ll look to slide a pass into the box for Lacazette to run on to.
It will be a slogfest and likely one of those days that the fans are more impatient than the team but Arsenal can and should come away with the 3 points.
Players to Watch
Arsenal. Alexandre Lacazette. His movement was a handful for Vertonghen last week. When he came on against City as a sub he scored shortly thereafter. Simply put he’s a handful.
Burnley. Chris Wood. He is a medical doubt for tomorrow but the 6’3” New Zealander is the man Burnley depend on to get them the goals.
Injuries and Suspensions
Arsenal: Cazorla (Achilles)
Burnley: Heaton (shoulder), Marney (match fitness), Walters (knee)
Goals Scored Per Match (season average)
Goals Conceded Per Match (season average)
Referee: Lee Mason (7M, 14Y, 1R)
Assistants: Harry Lennard, Matthew Wilkes
Fourth official: Jonathan Moss
UK: Available on Arsenal.com 16.00 GMT
US: NBC Sports Network 11:00 AM EST
From the Manager (via BBC.com)
“Of course they are the surprise package because if you asked before the season 100 people ‘will Burnley have 22 points at this stage in the season?’ Ninety would have said no and the 10 others would have been Burnley supporters.
“You know they’ve won games with 30, 25 per cent possession – that means they know what they want to do and are patient to have that killing instinct of a snake.
“They put you to that pace and suddenly they bite you.”
Match Facts (via BBC.com)
- Burnley are winless in nine league games against Arsenal since 1974, including all six Premier League fixtures (D1, L5).
- However, the Clarets did win 2-0 at home in a League Cup fifth-round tie in December 2008.
- The three Premier League meetings between the sides at Turf Moor have produced just four goals – one for Burnley (in a 1-1 draw in 2009) and three for Arsenal.
- Arsenal won both meetings with the Clarets last season courtesy of 90th-minute winners. The only other instance of a team doing this home and away against the same opponent in a single Premier League season was Manchester United against Manchester City in 2009-10.
- Arsenal have claimed 17 points from 16 away games in the Premier League in 2017 (W5, D2, L9).
- They have earned just four points on the road this season. The only Premier League sides with lower totals are West Ham and Everton (three points each) and Crystal Palace (no points).
- The Gunners have won all five of the Premier League games in which both Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette have started.
- Arsene Wenger’s side have scored 24 headers in the Premier League since the start of last season – five more than any other team in this period.
Burnley 0 – 1 Arsenal