Ramsey and Giroud the ones to watch against sorry travellers
Match Preview: Arsenal vs. Burnley - Premier League - 22.01.2017
It’s always nice to preview a game straight after a 0-4 away win; everyone is upbeat, happy and positive. However, this is The Arsenal and we’re always one result away from a crisis these days. Thankfully, I don’t expect too many troubles from Burnley.
The last time the two sides met was back in early October; a scrappy and somewhat fortunate Laurent Koscielny last minute winner was all that separated the two. It would be fair to say Arsène Wenger’s men were lucky to come away from Turf Moor with all 3 points. Sean Dyche’s men really dug in and on another day could easily have won the game.
Our opponents this weekend have a shocking away record; one point and just three goals in the Premier League away from Turf Moor does not make for good reading! However, this may not be cause for premature celebrations as this is the exact sort of game Arsenal cannot afford to assume will be easy. By any fair estimation, Burnley will arrive at The Emirates on Sunday with a clear plan of attack... to defend! I fully expect to see two banks of 4 or even a simple 4-5-1 system, relying on Andre Gray’s pace to run out the pressure that will inevitably come on their goal, in truth I can foresee a shooting gallery!
Complacency in the team is a worry die-hard Arsenal fans have in games like these: strong favourites, playing at home and in decent form. It’s almost in a pre-set script that with 10 minutes to go in a tense and nervy game at The Emirates we are made to pay for our complacency. Fear not readers, this is one such game I don’t expect this to be an issue.
With Oliver Giroud likely to start up front, the wide and no10 areas will prove crucial for The Gunners, the pockets of space that allow the in-form Alex Iwobi, the always grafting Alexis Sanchez and gifted Mesut Ozil to exploit could offer the big Frenchman a glut of goal scoring opportunities. Burnley are no mugs at the back don’t get me wrong; strong physical centre-backs and positive forward looking full-backs will certainly take some unpicking, but my belief is a goal within the opening period of play will unlock more to follow.
Having the fit again Hector Bellerin back in the side to offer thrust down the right hand side will also provide an avenue for Arsenal to exploit, along with Granit Xhaka’s direct style of long passing, these differing options offer Wenger’s men a variety of weapons with which to kill the game off within the 1st half alone.
Another area that I see as crucial for a comfortable day is the central midfield area, having taken a lot of criticism in recent times now is the time for Aaron Ramsey to really put in a dominant performance, winning the ball and distributing it accurately as well as making lung bursting runs from deep could see The Welshman silence a few doubters.
Make no mistake, the longer this game goes without Arsenal turning on the style or turning up the heat on a stubborn Burnley side the quicker the fans will turn. So let us keep our fingers crossed we score early, hit them hard and repeatedly, because as Swansea proved: a fully firing Gunners side are hard to contain.
LAST 3 Meetings
- Burnley 0-1 Arsenal (02.10.2016)
- Arsenal 2-1 Burnley (30.01.2016)
- Burnley 0-1 Arsenal (11.04.2015)
- The last time Arsenal were beaten at home by Burnley was in 1974, 0-1.
- Arsenal have scored 2 goals or more in each of their last 4 home games with Burnley
- Arsenal have suffered only 2 home defeats in their last 18 games in the Premier League
- Arsenal are unbeaten against Burnley in the Premier League (W4, D1) and are looking for a fifth consecutive league win over the Clarets.
- Burnley have not scored in any of their last three league meetings with Arsenal.
- Arsenal have won their last four Premier League home games.
- Burnley have lost their last five away matches in the league.
- The Gunners have scored in their last 12 league games, the best current run in the top flight.
- The Clarets have scored just three away goals in the top flight this season – every other club has scored at least twice that total.
- Olivier Giroud has scored in each of his last nine starts in all competitions, amassing 11 goals in total.
- Burnley have never won a Premier League match in London (D2, L12). Their last top-flight win in the capital came in January 1975, when they won 1-0 at QPR.
- Alexis Sanchez has scored or set up 21 goals this season, more than any other Premier League player.
Gibbs, Bellerin & Coquelin fit to return to the 1st team, Danny Welbeck also available. Per Mertesacker is approaching full fitness but remains short for this game. Santi Cazorla, Yaya Sanogo & Theo Walcott remain longer teams absentees.
POSSIBLE STARTING XI
Čech; Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal; Xhaka, Ramsey, Özil; Iwobi, Alexis, Giroud.
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