Matchday it is and it’s a chance to keep pace with Liverpool and City. City play in the evening, Liverpool play at lunchtime and given the two opponents they have, I’m not expecting us to have anything beneficial come out of their two games, so we simply must do the business against Burnley in the North West this afternoon. We’re sandwiched in between Liverpool’s lunchtime kick off at Brentford and City’s evening kick off against Chelsea and those two respective teams won’t offer much I don’t think. We saw Brentford against us and they camped on the edge of their box and tried to frustrate. That was at a period in which we weren’t clicking and it took a late Havertz goal to get us the points. Against City, they might have gone ahead but it was always going one way so I expect the same from Liverpool. Then as for Chelsea, they were embarrassing against Liverpool and I’m expecting the same tonight. They’ll not be that crap against us but I am convinced they’ll lay down their arms against City.

So we need to start well, start strong, impose ourselves on a Burnley side with whom as I said yesterday, have a lot of numbers stacked against them in terms of this game. But I also said yesterday on Twitter that this game ain’t played on a spreaddie, so we need to make sure we control as many of the variables as possible. For example, a penalty in the first minute and a sending off for us, changes the dynamic completely. IF that were to happen I guess the up side is that under Kompany Burnley aren’t a side with which you’d expect them to then camp on the edge of their box; they want to play a possession-based game, they want to move the ball and stretch play and that would surely mean that is such a fate should befall us, we’d get chances. But so long as we don’t do anything stupid, give away anything stupid, probe and press Burnley high up the pitch, we’ve got a good chance of three points today.

Arteta had his press conference yesterday and whilst we all know the drill by now, he did talk about there being a ‘few back’ for the game today. That’s great to hear. If I’m going to take a punt I’d suggest it’ll be Tomiyasu and maybe Emile Smith Rowe. They said he twisted his ankle in training but it felt to me like the way they were talking about it last week was more a short term one game kind of thing. I hope so because even if he isn’t in the starting XI, adding him and Tomi to the subs bench suddenly makes it a lot stronger than the youthful look we had about us last weekend against West Ham. That day it didn’t matter as the players on the pitch from the start pretty much had the game sewn up by halftime, but that’s not a longer-term ideal situation so a few more of the senior pro’s coming in today would be ideal. Perhaps we might also get Gabriel Jesus back? Arteta didn’t seem to rule anyone out so again, that seems really positive.

The other good news was the longer-term injuries too, as Arteta admitted that Partey and Vieira are both training on the field and you’d hope that it means they can possibly be eased back in from next week. Porto will no doubt be too soon for some but it’s just good to know that Arteta has some options for rotating, because we’re getting back in to midweek football being played so he must surely have an eye on rotation for the next week. We’ve got three games in eight days and so playing the same team the whole time is surely not feasible, so what does Arteta do? Rotate today, tomorrow and then go back to full strength first XI against Newcastle next Saturday evening? Or does he go for full strength today, try to get a few goals in the bag and in an ideal world have a situation like last weekend? It’d be lovely to do that, but hidings in football like we dished out last weekend don’t usually happen one after the other in the Premier League. Burnley will have studied and studied that game against West Ham and they’ll have been working on how to close the gaps West Ham left for us, so I don’t see us romping it today. I do think Arteta will do a bit of mixing today though, so I’m thinking he might go:


White   –   Saliba   –   Gabriel   –   Tomiyasu Kiwior


Odegaard   –   Rice

Saka   –   Havertz   –   Martinelli

My thinking here is that Trossard might therefore get the nod against Porto, maybe he’s also saving Gabriel Jesus there too. And I also think that we’ll see Jorginho come in because a game like today I’m thinking he’s the kind of player Arteta would want with us having a lot of the ball and looking to pin back Burnley. Jorginho overs that comfort in possession and he is probably a guy we won’t see against Porto as it looks more like the XI we’ve seen for a lot of the season with Havertz dropping in to midfield and Gabriel Jesus coming back in. I don’t think he switches up the back line other than Tomiyasu, although he could allow Kiwior to keep his place given he did quite well on Sunday last week and playing Tomiyasu twice in a week with his injury record could be viewed as a risk. In fact, I’m going to go for Kiwior instead of Tomi, because I think like Jesus he might save Tomi for midweek.

And that team needs to be able to do the business today. I am hopeful it will, but the first 10 – 15 minutes of a game often tell you how things are going to pan out. I remember watching the Fulham game and yes, we scored early, but there were weird sloppy signs before and after we scored that had a very slight worry for me. We all know how that turned around against our favour, so what I need to see is a start like the game against West Ham; strong, combative, winning duels, controlling possession and territory, doing the business and bagging goals. Come on The Arsenal!

There was some stuff about Mbappe from the press conference but I don’t really want to bother with it. The man has been a Madrid player for about three years. We’ll go in a different direction and I’m fine with that.

There’s a post match debrief going on straight after the game today on the Same Old Arsenal podcast at 5pm so if you fancy joining us after the whistle you can do so here. Catch you wonderful people either then or tomorrow for some post-Burnley thoughts. Have a good’un*.




*Only possible if Arsenal win.