Today’s game is certainly an interesting one. One the one hand you have an Arsenal team in a rich vein of form, coupled with a Burnley team in 19th position and having scored just 14 goals all season.
But on the other hand you had an Arsenal team that have made a nasty little habit of thinking a match is a foregone conclusion (see Monaco at home for most recent of examples), as well as a Burnley team that have picked up points against both Manchester clubs, the Spuds and Southampton. So much like in any Premier League game, it’s difficult to predict what the outcome of the Turf Moor encounter will be.
First and foremost, Arsène needs to work out who the bloody hell he’s going to start with as his first XI. We all probably have a pretty good idea and, if we’re all honest we’ve all seen enough of the team and the manager to know he’ll opt for a consistent side if he can, but with the squad at the moment it really is a tough one choosing his entire team.
I listened to the excellent Arsecast yesterday and one of the comments that stuck out for me was when discussions turned towards who would be picked. Rather than the usual ‘any man still alive’ train of thought that we all joke about, what with our perpetual injury crisis usually extending from one season to another, talk was focused on the possibility of Arsène selecting his side based on the opposition we’re playing.
The discussion was aimed more at games like Chelski and United away, but outings like this evening should also represent an opportunity to try to play to the oppositions weaknesses. For example, as I said yesterday in the blog, a Spud has told me that Burnley will try to press us hard and catch us cold for the first 15 minutes. If that is true, then perhaps having plenty of pace in the attack will pin them back and create gaps for players like Özil and Cazorla to exploit. A deep lying Burnley defence coupled with a high press Burnley attack, will give the creative players in midfield more licence to influence the game. So perhaps a front three of Alexis, Giroud and Welbeck would be the best option? I’d suggest Theo, but right now he’s too far down the pecking order to suggest he’ll get a start.
Defensively we’ll have a similar set up as last weekend I would have thought, with the only question mark being whether Laurent Koscienly is definitely 100% fit and able. The good news is that Gabriel looks like a tidy bit of business and so there’s no need to risk our Frenchman at the back.
Midfield will see Le Coq assume the usual position, but if Wenger does opt for pace in the front three, then one of Özil, Santi or Rambo misses out.
Of course, that’s what I’d do, but I suspect Le Boss will have different thoughts, almost certainly ensuring that Özil, Santi and Ramsey all get on to the starting teamsheet. What do I know, eh?
Well I do know that the game will probably most likely not be won by three clear goals. Dyche may have the most technically limited team in the league, but what they lack in application, they make up in perseverance and perspiration. Danny Ings will be trying to continue his ‘in the shop window’ end of season efforts, so could be a threat, whilst George Boyd is the long-haired hippie that will try to trouble us from midfield.
What we have to do is not to underestimate our opponents. We can be patient and rely in the (hopeful) gulf in class, but we have to play the team and not the occasion, which what I mean by that is try not to let an impassioned home support be given too much to scream about. Keep them quiet, play our game and get the three points. Then, assuming we can do that, hope QPr do us a favour and keep an impossible dream alive.
Come on you reds!