We need to be ready for a battle. These were Mikel Arteta’s words when discussing the next game away at Burnley. But match aside, this also applies to our season as a whole. 24 games in and we’re a mere 6 points ahead of relegation. What really brought it home was looking at Burnley sitting in 14th equal on points with the mighty Arsenal.
The person most directly responsible for this plight has been speaking yet again. Unai Emery astonishingly still believes he had a good first season. He’s got a whole list of ‘reasons’ why the second season didn’t go well, and then blames one bad month and fans’ impatience on his getting the sack. Laughably, he also suggested that Arteta is playing the same way as him, and complains that fans are showing him more patience despite results not being great. Ugh. Sorry, but if the man cannot shut up he deserves all the opprobrium he gets. Idiot.
Meanwhile, the man who hired Emery and wanted to reward him with a new contract, is reclaiming his ‘Don’ status after the close of the window with the signing of Mari and Soares, both initially on loan. I will say these are two good signings for what they represent.
But as Shotta pointed out in his blog, Mari is most likely an Arteta signing. Mikel said the left footed CB will bring balance to our side playing out from the back. Thinking about it is exciting because if we can hit those diagonal long balls to the right, then it brings Pepe into play. While Martinelli and Auba can be involved with Luiz/Mustafi playing to the opposite side.
Speaking of Mustafi, the good news is that he’s not seriously injured. He probably won’t be available in this game, but should be back soon. Our other signing, Cedric Soares will not be available either as he’s carrying an injury. But he does fill a need as we’re carrying long term injuries in the full back positions, and he can play on either side. This one, I think is more an Edu signing, though obviously having been in the league, Arteta knows him well too. Arsenal fans ought to remember him for the wrong reasons, but now since he’s representing us, the right reasons. Even if he himself is represented by Kia Joorabchian.
Along with two new signings, we also have two players returning from suspensions. Aubameyang is back to take his place up top, and David Luiz comes back too. The latter is most timely with the Mustafi injury. These returnees will be a boost for Arsenal.
State of the opposition
Burnley are in good form. They won both their last 2 league games against surprising opposition. Leicester and Manchester United. They’ll fancy their chances against us, for sure. Especially at home. It’s an old fashioned ground, with a passionate crowd, and we know how referees in this league tend to be. Especially where ‘soft’ Arsenal are concerned. However, we can take heart from the fact that we have a very good record against Burnley, winning the last 11 matches against them (all competitions).
Unsurprisingly, Burnley don’t pass the ball very much. They are, in fact, dead last in the league in passes made. They also don’t create very many shots, again the lowest in the league. But Arsenal lead the way in number of bookings (57) while Burnley are a lowly 13th with 43 yellow cards. They also have no red cards, while Arsenal have 3 (tied for most in the league) The referee is Chris Kavanaugh.
Maybe that leniency explains them being on 30 points, because otherwise I don’t understand it. They don’t score a lot of goals, and they don’t defend particularly well either, conceding 38 so far. Chris Wood is their top scorer with 10 goals, Westwood their most active passer and top assist maker, and Tarkowski their leader at the back.
Starting XI: Leno, Bellerin, Sokratis, Luiz, Saka, Xhaka, Torreira, Pepe, Ozil, Martinelli, Aubameyang
Subs: Martinez, Holding, AMN, Guendouzi, Ceballos, Willock, Lacazette
Too early to start Pablo Mari, and Burnley away doesn’t seem like the right fixture to do it anyway. There is a chance that Kolasinac could be back. He’s reported to be facing a late fitness test. If he is declared fit, we might see Saka make way for him as the physical battle will be the key here against long ball Burnley.
I’m going for a 2-1 Arsenal win.