Match Preview: What Do Arsenal Need to Do to Get All Three Points from Burnley?
Depending on your view of the 2020-2021 season, it is either wacky, unorthodox or downright flawed. Regardless, Arsenal have a chance to gain points in their race for a European spot. They can do that with a win away at Turf Moor against hosts Burnley.
It is still a monumental task given their current tally of 11 losses. But since Christmas Arsenal have only been bettered in form by two teams, Manchester City and West Ham. Still, 11 losses are a mountain to climb with only 12 league matches left.
Scouting Report Burnley
In attack Burnley have two low-key dangermen midfielder Dwight McNeil and fullback Matthew Lowton. McNeil by far looks the most technically sound and secure player in attack for Claret and Blue. He likes to move in field and take up the primary role as their playmaker.
Ideally, though the ball out wide to players like Lowton who looks to cross the ball early and pepper the box looking for the big bulky frames of Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood. If they can’t get to Barnes and Wood through crosses they look to use their size and physicality in set piece situations to try and score.
Additionally, While Burnley are thought of as a team who will sit in a low block against better teams, they will try and spend the 5-10 minutes of each half being very active in a press trying to get the ball up high and snatch an early goal.
Defensively Burnley are what you expect, all 10 outfield players playing in a 4-4-2 with the focus on limiting attacking through the central areas. As an opposing team progresses into he final third, Burnley likes to narrow the lanes and move the play wide and defend the corners.
The general perception is that they are hard to break and down and that does bare some truth but they are susceptible to significant break downs. First, they can be broken down centrally with fast combination play coming from the midfield. They aren’t defensively fast in this regard and good control of the ball can open the lanes up to get after them.
One thing stood out for our scout Rasmus Pabst (@GamingPabst), as he watched back the Burnley matches versus Leicester and Crystal palace, their attackers generally stroll back to defend and usually windup snapping at the heels of the attackers.
Additionally, they are pretty timid when defending central areas outside of the 18. The don’t commit to their defending effectively in the middle and can be opened up through effective third-man runs. They are also a team that can be caught out against a low-cross (cough cough Kieran Tierney)
Defending oddly enough hasn’t been Arsenal’s biggest issue. Creating chances and taking the chances given has been their biggest issue and it’s where our analysis is focused.
One of the areas Arsenal continue to try and improve is the time to transition from defending to attack. This could be an important facet of this game as we’ve pointed out how slow and timid Burnley tend to be in transition.
Additionally, Burnley tend to overload a wide area to try and slow play down. The problem with this tactic is that it leaves acres of space on the other side of the pitch. Against Leicester last week, Arsenal were effective for most of the match in using a big switch to quickly change the point of attack. That tactical move and quick interchanges kept Arsenal on top of a sloppy Leicester all game. It’s a balanced attack that could effectively open up Burnley if they are as slow to engage on the transition as they appear in previous matches.
How the Match Will Play Out
Overall, we can expect that as much as Burnley may be willing to try and press, they’re up against now and threatened with going down. They are going to need to be resolute and try and hamper Arsenal’s ability to create deep in their own third.
That means a rigid low block designed to stay compact and thwart Arsenal’s creative efforts. Much like Leicester last week, Arsenal will look to combine effective combination play to try and play through and use the overlaps of the full backs to allow the wide forward space to get on the ball and attack the lines.
The biggest challenge is the lineup for Arsenal. Without a Thursday match, Arteta save for a few injuries has a fully available squad. It will be a tactical choice that seals it but in the end whether it’s the squad from the Europa League from the previous week, the starting XI from the win against Leicester, or a combination of both, there is more than enough in Arsenal’s locker to come out with all three points which is what we think they do.
Burnley 0 – 2 Arsenal
What the Manager Says (courtesy Arsenal.com)
“It’s a really tough match,” Arteta said. “I think it’s remarkable what the club, Sean [Dyche] and the coaching staff have done in recent years with the resources that they have, the style of play they have implemented and how well they execute it and how efficient they are.
“It is always really tough to play against them, at home it was a tricky game because we played with 10 men and we ended up losing on a set piece, which is a big part of the game, so hopefully we can have a very different result.
“I quite enjoy [going to Turf Moor] because it’s what the Premier League is about, going into those grounds and making it happen, being able to compete against a style that is very defined and executed to perfection. That’s a big credit.”
Arsenal Record vs Opponent (League Only)
13P 10W 1L 2D
Average Goals For
Arsenal 1.38 (away)
Burnley 0.79 (home)
Average Goals Conceded
Arsenal 1.00 (away)
Burnley 1.07 (home)
Average xG (all competitions)
Arsenal 1.45 (opponents avg 1.28)
Burnley 1.2 (opponents avg 1.63)
Referee: Andre Marriner
Assistants: Scott Ledger, Eddie Smart
Fourth official: Anthony Taylor
VAR: Kevin Friend
Assistant VAR: Matthew Wilkes
Match Facts (courtesy BBC.co.uk)
- Arsenal have lost 11 league games this season. They have only had more defeats in a 38-match Premier League campaign in 2017-18, when beaten 13 times.
- The Gunners are looking to avoid equalling their club record of failing to score in 11 games of a 38-match Premier League season, set in 2005-06.
- However, they can score three or more goals in three consecutive fixtures in all competitions for the first time since September 2019.
- The Gunners have won four of their past six away league games, as many as they had in their previous 18 attempts.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored seven Premier League goals against Burnley, more than he has against any other side in the division.
- Burnley won the reverse fixture 1-0 and are aiming to complete a league double over Arsenal for the first time since the 1962-63 season.
- Arsenal have not lost at Turf Moor in eight league meetings dating back to December 1973, and have kept a clean sheet in four of their last five matches there.
- The Gunners have conceded just seven goals in 13 Premier League encounters and have never let in more than one in a match.
Editor note: Special thanks to Rasmus Pabst (@GamingPabst) for his excellent overview on Burnley’s tactics and batting back and forth how Arsenal could attack them with me. If you’re not following him or reading his analysis, you don’t know what you’re missing. – DAG.