Moaning y’all and welcome to Sunday match day, a day in which we once again travel away to a tough ground to try to pick up three points against an in form team, in the shape of Burnley.
This’ll be a tough one today. Burnley are an established Premier League side under Dyche but more than that, they have an identity and a way of playing that every player has bought in to and every plays knows what he needs to do to contribute to victories.
Burnley are built on a solid and compact, tight defensive line, with a midfield that sit deeper and look to frustrate when they don’t have the ball. They don’t mind ceding possession and for that very reason, it will be impossible for the Arsenal team to replicate the style of last weekend’s brilliant performance against the Totts. Burnley will play with target men that they will look to hit with longer balls and then when it breaks down they will emphasise shape above anything else. They are a big team and so will relish a fight with the ball in the air, so for Arsenal today it will be a mistake to replicate what we did last weekend, when we gave up possession and also played more longer balls than i’ve seen us play in a long time.
If Burnley are going to sit deep and play longer balls when an Arsenal attack breaks down then, we just need to make sure that we’re winning as many aerial duels as possible. Which is why I don’t think Arsene will do any rotation in defence this week. Mustafi, Koscielny and Monreal are all battlers in the air and whilst I think the time will come for rotation over the next six days, I suspect we’ll see more of it against Huddersfield than we will against Burnley or United next weekend.
I suspect therefore, that we’ll get the usual weekend team that will play today. So that will be Cech in goal, the above three mentioned, Kolasinac and Bellerin on the flanks, Xhaka and Ramsey in the middle, with Ozil, Lacazette and Alexis up top. And the emphasis will be on those three up top threading the eye of the needle, because they won’t get the same space to run in behind. Sean Dyche is a clever bloke. He’ll know all about our pace and that we like to get the full backs in behind and so he’ll be telling his team to ensure that all the football is played in front of them. If you stop the runners in behind then you can easily negate Arsenal.
So today will be a tricky one tactically, because I think that is what is going to happen, so I expect to see a few Rambo pot shots when we have the ball in the Burnley third. He does love a long range shot does our Aaron and if he doesn’t see any options on, I expect he’ll have a few pops. The same can definitely be said for Alexis, so expect some wild swings, especially as he cuts inside.
It’s for this reason and the way Burnley play, that I fear the concession of the first goal. If they score first then we’re in real trouble, because they will literally camp on the edge of their own box and go full Gandalf “You Shall Not Pass!” on us, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can get an early goal to bring them out a little. If that happens, then the game might open up a bit but until we score that first, it’ll be a cagey affair. And if you think about it, it’s been like that every season we’ve played up there. I’ve been up for the last two and sadly due to ticket demand couldn’t make it today, but i’ve seen how hard they fight and how difficult they are to break down, so we should expect nothing less than a very tough game.
But we have the talent in the team to win. Whether or not they are as up for it is the real question and whether they have a proper game plan to overcome a stubborn resistance is another that at the time of writing I just don’t know.
We had a great win last weekend and any sort of win today – scrappy or not – would be another good one going in to two home games that could define whether or not we can properly challenge for the top four spots. So I’m hoping that what we see this lunchtime is an Arsenal team ready to take advantage of som of the slip ups that happened yesterday. Most of the teams around us dropped points and when that happens the sign of a successful team is when they are able to capitalise. In recent years we’ve been masters of having these awesome weekend results from other teams and then completely buggering it up ourselves, so that’s why i’m not overly confident that we’ll pick up three points, but I do want to see an Arsenal team with more drive and purpose than Watford, Stoke and Liverpool away. The players need to show us that they have fight in them on a consistent basis and that starts today.
Come on you reds.