Little Burnley, little Burnley, the club who wasn’t supposed to get promoted and who everyone thinks should make the drop. And over the last few weeks, little Burnley have been playing like a club with nothing to lose and beat Man City and I bet you were among the Arsenal fans who cheered when little Burnley held Spurs to a scoreless draw. In an away game, to a little club, who have scored a big chunk of their goals from set plays, this is the kind of banana skin that Arsenal fans are used to seeing their club slip on. Arsenal take on Burnley in the late game Saturday and it’s a match which will require all of Arsenal’s focus if they are going to extend their 7 game win streak to 8.
I think the formula here is simple: keep doing what they have been doing and Arsenal should take all three points. Basically, I’d like to see Arsenal continue their high press, put Burnley’s defenders under a lot of pressure and force turnovers in dangerous areas. If the high pressure game against Liverpool’s back line worked to the tune of 4 goals why shouldn’t they continue that against a much weaker Burnley side?
Against Liverpool we saw an Arsenal side who looked to create turnovers in high areas of the pitch. Here is an example which led to Arsenal’s third goal.
The team isn’t perfectly balanced, there’s a good outlet on Bellerin’s side, but fortunately, Arsenal have Coquelin and he makes the jump to break up the play deep in the Liverpool half. It’s a bit of a gamble because if he misses this tackle, Bellerin is caught in a 1-v-1 down the right, but Coquelin does win the ball:
On the ensuing break, Alexis is fed the ball, beats his man with a deft dribble and scores a pearler over Mignolet.
That’s my entire game plan for Arsenal, make Burnley beat the press. That’s not going to be easy. Arsenal are probably going to dominate possession for much of the game. That means switching from losing the ball, which we will do, to trying to win the ball back has to be seamless and that is kind of a mental thing. That’s the kind of mental slip which often leads to an upset.
Defensively, Arsenal have to be on their toes against counter attacks down the wings. This is especially true down Burnley’s right side, Boyd and Tripper make a highly effective duo down the right. Trippier leads Burnley with 4 assists and Boyd is second on Burnley with 5 goals. On the left, they also have an effective winger in Barnes who has 5 goals. Burnley attack down the wings.
As for rotation, I see no reason to change the lineup from last week. Arsenal have a week before their FA Cup match against Reading. And since Arsenal will need their best and fastest defenders down the wings I would start Bellerin and Monreal. Wenger could still surprise us all in midfield with either Wilshere or Arteta getting a nod. After all, the old an has been rotating like crazy this year.
I’m predicting a 3-0 Arsenal win and a lively post match discussion about how insanely great Jose Mourinho is. I know, Mourinho has nothing to do with this match but that won’t stop the pundits!
One more thing to look for: on Sunday Chelsea play QPR and both Fabregas and Matic are on 9 yellow cards, if either player gets a 10th they will be suspended for two games. That means that either (or both) players could be out for both the Man U and the Arsenal matches coming up. Let’s hope Andre Marriner is up to his cards!