The Sunday turnaround is still fresh in my mind. It’s been a while since we won against a “big” team, away from home, after conceding a lead. I guess the last one was at Stamford Bridge over a year ago. That win didn’t turn out to be very significant at the end of the season. Will this one be any different? We will have to wait till May to find the answer to that question, but we might get some clues from the result at Turf Moor.
Our heroics at Anfield will be rendered meaningless if we fail to win against Burnley. That does not imply that our hosts are pushover as they have already given enough evidence to the contrary and I don’t need to repeat how strong their home record is. Our focus, as Arsene keeps repeating, must be on winning our games. Unfortunately, we have dropped points in games we should have won and that makes winning such tough games all the more necessary.
Against Liverpool, according to Le boss, we played with the handbrakes on. There was a fear of losing a big game! At Turf Moor the problem might be on the other end of the spectrum. We might be complacent or tired and not up for the challenge. Frankly, and with respect, those are the only reasons I can imagine for not taking three points from this game.
Burnley have a decent hard working team and I admire their manager as an unsung over achiever in premier league terms. Owen Coyle has come out bold statement about playing positive football and going toe-to-toe with Arsenal. It is commendable but not very believable. I cannot visualize the Clarets attacking our first team in numbers.
Tactically, the best Burnley can do is hassle us in the same way Wolves did at the Molineux. Beyond that the result will depend on how sharp our attack is and how resolute their defence stands. Brian Jensen might need a man of the match performance if the hosts are to take any points from Arsenal.
I am more interested in this game from the team selection point of view. I feel these are the kind of games that we have to win while giving one or two senior players a breather. Denilson is out with a back problem and I am eager to see who gets the nod, Diaby or Ramsey. I am all for giving young Rambo another chance to show what he can do. Arsene might plump for Diaby given his tendency (and wisdom) to play it safe.
I also feel this is a good opportunity to give our Russian genius a rest. He played against Liverpool without regular training due to an injured foot. Would he have recovered completely in such a short time? This article on the Arsenal website does highlight his importance to the team, particularly in away games. In the three away games that Arshavin has missed since his arrival at the Emirates, we have picked up only one point. On the other hand, another injury to an important player could affect the whole season.
Eduardo scored a scorcher against Burnley when the sides last met at the Emirates for the FA Cup tie. I don’t think any of us will forget that goal anytime soon. Will this be a game where Dudu returns to form and fitness? The hosts do have big, strong center backs but they are not as quick or skillful as John Terry for instance. The Crozilian might find it easier to make a comeback in such a game. We certainly need either Eduardo and/or Vela to find some scoring form and confidence soon. It would be foolhardy to rely on Arshavin all the time.
Theo is another important player who is struggling with his form. Does Arsene give him a rest as he has just returned from a long lay off or does he give Walcott another start to get his touch back? I think Theo might enjoy himself against the Clarets as their defence is quite likely to struggle against his pace. He might even get away with a few poor touches and a positive contribution can go a long way towards rebuilding his confidence on the pitch.
Traore is the newest victim of the curse on the arsenal left back. Will we see Silvestre or Eboue filling in? Playing Silvestre would mean risking the first choice back up center back. Giving Eboue a run carries the risks associated with playing someone in an unfamiliar defensive role. Arsene might even put Sagna at left back and Eboue at right. It depends on who he thinks is best suited for the role.
Goalkeeping is another area where many questions have been raised. Most articles and opinions seem to favor a run of games for Fabianski. Frankly, I am not sure if any of our goalkeepers will do better than the others. All of them have given the impression that they lack confidence and certainty in decision making. Almunia, obviously, has had more chances than the others so it might make sense to give Fabianski a start. Ultimately, it will boil down to what the boss sees in training every day.
My starting line up would look like,
Fabianski; Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Eboue; Cesc, Song, Ramsey; Walcott, Eduardo, Nasri;
I think we will win this 3-1.