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Premier League 2019/20: Burnley 0-0 Arsenal – Tactical Analysis


Mikel Arteta and Arsenal looked to continue an unbeaten away record of six games as they travelled to Turf Moor. Both teams came into the match on level points in the middle of the Premier League, Arsenal ten points off of the Champions Leauge places and seven points away from the relegation zone. Burnley have lost their last 11 matches against Arsenal in all competitions, a run that starts all the way back to March 2010. Sean Dyche had caused the Gunners problems earlier this season with his tactics in the reverse fixture at the Emirates but didn’t gain a point from that performance.

In this tactical analysis, we’ll see how the tactics of the two managers played out to create the result of the match.


Premier League 2019/20: Burnley vs Arsenal 0-0

Forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made a timely return from his suspension as he’s scored seven goals in four Premier League appearances against Burnley. This also was the first eleven since Mikel Arteta has taken over that did not include Lucas Torreria as youngster Matteo Guendouzi started in his place in midfield next to Granit Xhaka. Nicolas Pepe was another change from the last team that played at Stamford Bridge, and Gabriel Martinelli maintained his spot but was moved to the right side of the team.

Burnley, as expected, had their trusty 4-4-2. Ashley Barnes missed out through injury, Chris Wood started at striker bringing 10 goals in 22 matches. He hasn’t scored more than 10 goals in a Premier League season. There was no changes from their victory at Old Trafford last time out in the Premier League.

No solution to Burnley’s press

Coming off victories against Manchester United and Leicester City, they came into the game with great confidence and this was evident in their tactics. In the game earlier in the season at the Emirates, Arsenal struggled against Burnley’s pressing scheme. Since then the Gunners have gone through a lot of changes and looked better during the buildup phases. But Burnley would cause problems through this again and unlike the game at the Emirates, there would not be consistent solutions found against it. Dyche’s team press in a 4-4-2 as many teams do. In the reverse fixture, Dani Ceballos was played as an attacking midfielder and he’d drop deep during the buildup phases to offer dynamic passing options to the double pivot, whereas in this match Mesut Ozil would not bring the same support. This would result in them being forced to play long balls to bypass the organised lines of pressure, many of them unsuccessful as David Luiz only completed four of 11.

Direct play doesn’t particularly suit Arteta’s tactics and it showed as the Gunners struggled to win the first and second ball. Arsenal being a more technical team and Burnley being the more physical one, this favoured the home side. Arteta would try and create an overload between the lines as we’ve commonly seen with the front three coming inside but they could not hold the ball up or win the physical battles. It directly reflected on the performance as Arsenal created zero big chances in the second half and only 78 total passes in Burnley’s attacking third.

Premier League 2019/20: Burnley vs Arsenal 0-0

On the opposite end of the pitch, Arsenal’s press wasn’t as aggressive allowing for Burnley’s centre-backs to play with the ball. Never forcing themselves into turnovers or mistakes, only making 48 ball recoveries – fewer than Burnley. It was an interesting and somewhat confusing choice in tactics as Sean Dyche’s team are not the most technically gifted outfit so there was an opportunity in this to show attacking intent and gain an edge. Leicester who recently lost to Burnley had a similar approach in their tactics and lost the game, convincingly.

When the press would be bypassed there was space to exploit but Arsenal would not be quick enough in their individual decision making to hurt Burnley out of their defensive shape. As we can see below Willock finds space in between the midfield and defensive line and gallops forward but by the time he decides to make a choice, the defending team has tracked back and covered much of the space left behind.

Premier League 2019/20: Burnley vs Arsenal 0-0

Arsenal in possession

When Arsenal was able to settle in possession in the opposition half, Burnley moved into a narrow and compact low block. This allowed for switches of play side-to-side through the midfield and space in the wide areas. Most of the time they were not being quick enough to create gaps in central zones so getting the ball to the feet of the likes of Lacazette was difficult – he only attempted two shots the whole game.

From the wide areas, they attempted 21 crosses where Burnley’s centre-back partnership of Mee and Tarkowski, who both stand at 6 ft and 6’1 respectively, saw no problems with this as they completed 8/8 headed clearances together. There were some good chances created from crosses but Arsenal were unable to convert them or sometimes recognise the opportunity.

Their best opportunities came from outside-in movements from Aubameyang. A very common and effective pattern of play since Arteta has arrived is with left-back Saka occupying the wide space while Aubameyang can make timely movements inside. As we can see in the analysis below it took advantage of Burnley’s relatively high line through the forward’s blistering pace and distributors’ excellent passing ability. This sequence of play caught Burnley out twice and was the best chances created by the North-London club.

Premier League 2019/20: Burnley vs Arsenal 0-0

Saka injury forces change

With Saka coming off injured, Xhaka was then moved to the left-back position. He doesn’t possess the athletic ability the former does meaning he was anchored into creating a back three and not providing width. There was no longer a 2 v 1 for Arsenal to take advantage of and Aubameyang was stuck hugging the touchline away from the goal. As you can see in the image below with Arsenal’s shape, Arteta would try to replicate the pattern on the opposite side of play with Martinelli at right wing and Bellerin at right-back.Premier League 2019/20: Burnley vs Arsenal 0-0

Martinelli and Bellerin would not be able to get onto the same wavelength, however. Martinelli sometimes would move inside too early before Bellerin could get forward to provide the width. This would congest the central zones of play as there was no width allowing Burnley to close players down quickly and suffocating space in their narrow shape. Likewise, there were also times where Bellerin would mistime his runs forward in-turn creating space for Burnley to counterattack into.

Premier League 2019/20: Burnley vs Arsenal 0-0

In the pass map below you can really understand the lack of width provided even more. It does not look like a functional structure like we’ve seen in previous matches with Arteta and it’s easy to understand how the Gunners struggled to get a firm grip on the game viewing this. Highlighting the congested central zones and lack of support for the double pivot.

Premier League 2019/20: Burnley vs Arsenal 0-0


A trip to Turf Moore is going to be tough for any team but it was a performance that left a lot to be desired. Mikel Arteta overlooked Nicolas Pepe and Dani Ceballos in his substitutions, players who could’ve potentially changed the game. The tactics on display during this tactical analysis ultimately favoured Burnley. The inability to create overloads and solutions due to the structure forced Arsenal to play more direct and created physical battles throughout the pitch which suited Burnley’s profile of players much better as Burnley won 22 aerial duels. The lack of width and effective ball movement in the second half allowed Sean Dyche’s team to be compact and narrow, rarely being tested in their defensive third.

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