Meanwhile the Burnley manager has been making the usual positive noises about how wonderful Mr Wenger is but he has added to that, “As managers we all understand the fan mentality, the thirst and desire to win and be successful, but from a manager’s point of view you have to scratch your head and wonder why he’s questioned at times.” Fortunately I gave up doing that a long time ago otherwise there’d be no head left.
Meanwhile everyone notes that Burnley have beaten Arsenal this century, but they don’t focus too much on that game. Maybe because on 2 December 2008 when Burnley beat Arsenal 2-0 in the fifth round of the league cup our side was…
Hoyte, Silvestre, Ramsey, Gibbs
Rodgers, Randall, Merida, Wilshere
The guys that went off were Rodgers (replaced by Lansbury at half time), Randall (replaced by Bischoff on 72), and Jack Wilshere (replaced by Simpson on 63).
I must say that the name “Rodgers” had me puzzled, but on consulting those who know these things I find that this was his one and only appearance for Arsenal as a professional. The following month he went on loan to Northampton and then signed for them. He played 11 times on loan and 56 times as a Northampton pro, before moving on to Newport County and then dropping into non-league. A very short Arsenal career of 45 minutes.
But of that very junior side four players emerged: Fabianski won the FA Cup before going to Swansea, and Ramsey, Gibbs and Wilshere are of course still with us but by chance none of them will play at the start – although Gibbs might come on as a sub either on the wing or as a full back.
So, the Arsenal team is most likely to be pretty much the same as for the last league game. If not exactly the same.
Iwobi Ozil Walcott
Monreal Koscielny Mustafi Bellerin
There is of course no beach in Burnley, Blackpool being 33 miles away, so Arsenal will be taking their own upon which will be playing Ospina, Gabriel, Holding, Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Elneny, and Pérez – by my reckoning.
Back to today’s world, Burnley have let in five goals in their last 17 home games, and never let in two or more in that period at home.
On the other hand Burnley have only managed 15 shots on target in six League games this season. I wonder if they are giving their supporters a discount because of the lack of goals. Although they do get to see their keeper make saves. 30 in the first six games of the season. More than anyone else.
Arsenal as we know have won four successive league games and lost just one of their last 16 matches in the division winning nine along the way. We are also unbeaten in 26 games against promoted teams, winning 22. The last to do the dirty on us were QPR in March 2012.
Hector Bellerin, who is still being talked up as going to Barcelona or Man City, has provided six assists in the League since August 2015, more than any other defender.
And last, Alexis Sanchez has scored three goals in three games against Burnley.
Arsenal have an average possession of 54.7% in league games – Burnley let the other team have possession, having the ball for 41.3% of games.
Arsenal have a pass success of 84.7% against 72% for Burnley.
But Burnley, as befits a long ball team, win aerials better than Arsenal.
Overall Arsenal are getting 14.5 shots per game (Burnley 8.7), with 5.3 per game on target (Burnley 2.2). They are getting 19.2 interceptions per game (Burnley 17.7) and 18.8 tackles per game (Burnley 14.3).
When you take these figures and look at the passes you really do start to see two utterly different styles of play. Arsenal make 532 short passes per game, and 48 long ball passes. Burnley make 275 short passes and 76 long ball passes.
- Two teams, two utterly different games.
How this translates into reality is explained by Theo. “Burnley don’t give you a moment’s rest, but I don’t think we do either. We don’t give any team the benefit of the doubt anymore, and that’s the mentality throughout Arsenal Football Club at the moment. We are very positive going into games and I don’t think Burnley will look forward to playing against us right now.
“The new additions have definitely helped. We are more and more experienced in the league now and it starts from the front. We act when the opposition gets the ball and we do it as a unit, everyone acts together, not just one or two. We are all clicking at the same time and it bodes well. We are working so hard in training as well and it’s nice to see it paying off. Myself and Alexis are linking up very well and that seems to be clicking as well. Everyone is on a high at the moment and we have to make sure it stays that way.”
Of course the papers are not convinced, the Telegraph saying “Questions will remain against any Arsenal side until they deliver the Premier League title to the Emirates Stadium.”
But Theo countered with, “As players we don’t think we have anything to prove. We are experienced and we know this is such a big club and we need to do better. It’s easy to say that, but you look how we performed last year and finished second even though we didn’t have a particularly great end of season. We are playing well at this moment in time, but we’ll see.”