Tag Archives: Burnley

An Unhealthy Dose Of Cynicism

Featured in The Gooner Fanzine

In his post-match interview with the media, Burnley boss was asked to comment on his thoughts after Arsenal had earned a 3-1 win at The Emirates over his side.

The gravel-throated manager chose this platform to vent his feelings over what he felt was unjust refereeing decisions.

Dyche referenced the fact his team have waited more than 60 games for a penalty, and that the push on Kevin Long in the penalty area from behind – which caused Long to fall backwards instead of forwards and thus defy the laws of physics – should have resulted in a spot kick for the Clarets.

Most interestingly though, was his slightly skewed version of events regarding his striker, Ashley Barnes.

Barnes had enjoyed a running battle with our centre-half, Sokratis. Both had been guilty of fouls and both were booked. One player remained calm though, in the face of rising heat on the pitch, whereas another chose to vent in a nefarious manner – which was to stamp on the grounded Matteo Guendouzi.

Dyche didn’t bring this up, surprisingly, but did say that Barnes got elbowed in the face.

Barnes and Sokraits

 

Dyche bemoaning the physical reciprocation that the Gunners dished out is akin to a zookeeper covering himself in meat and crying about being mauled by the tigers. Dyche and his Clarets side enjoyed a seventh placed finish last campaign that was built on a robust defence and a midfield that wouldn’t back down an iota. These tactics don’t lean toward unlocking defences through the majesty of football, but through wearing down an opponent.

It ain’t pretty, but it can be effective. Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis have forged careers on the back of such an approach – but at what point does a fierce will to win and a penchant for gamesmanship turn into an enemy of the beautiful game?

When does physicality become too overbearing and to the detriment of the match and the spectators?

Every team needs an element of sh*thousery. When we signed Stephane Lichtsteiner and Sokratis this summer, we celebrated their arrival as it heralded an end to the naivety and innocence that has been the nadir of many seasons hopes in the past.

These players know when to waste time, when to make that crucial professional foul, in order to gain an advantage, no matter how small. Grappling in the box, a shirt tug here, a flick of the boot there – we needed players who had a handle on the darker arts of the game.

It has helped us – but the approach from Burnley was much more than this.

Dyche may have been surprised that we fought back, and that was a springboard for the three points. In the past, we may have crumpled like a cheap suit in the face of some of the challenges, but instead, we grafted.

We also didn’t let it descend into the brawl that Burnley wanted. So, instead of trying to play their way out, they just kicked us harder. So we went down under challenges, we broke up play, we kept possession.

Barnes and Guendouzi

 

The fact Barnes was even on the pitch to score the away team’s consolation goal was a mystery – as was the fact that MOTD chose not to highlight his assault on the young Guendouzi. Credit to the Frenchman, he could have reacted – if you’re stamped on, that would be what is on your mind – but he didn’t, and instead gave his all with the ball.

Burnley and Dyche are hypocritical if they are whinging about how often we went down and the fact they don’t get enough decisions in their favour. By the way they acted during their loss to us, match officials will be too busy keeping tabs on the amount of fouls they make.

They were the aggressors, they were the ones who decided they wanted the game to be a brawl. When we choose to go to ground under a foul instead of turning round and starting a fight, or even gamely trying to carry on? We did that to frustrate them, and it worked. Just like they rocked up to The Emirates to frustrate us – but our newly found maturity under Emery was the perfect antidote.

There is a time and a place for pure physical tactics, but to use them as the bedrock of your whole gameplan? You will eventually get found out. There’s always someone bigger and harder than you.

Arsenal Vs Burnley – PL Preview

This match sees Arsene Wenger take charge of his last match at the stadium he oversaw the creation of. It’s also an opportunity to attempt to forget our exit of the Europa League Semi-Final on Thursday versus Atletico Madrid.

Our loss against Diego Simeone’s side was expected but not taken lightly. We huffed and puffed but very little was created seeing as everything was on the line. It was more of a whimper than a roar, and it kept the theme of our season.

Perhaps the only decent upside of our campaign so far has been our home form, and this game is our last home showing this season, against the only team that can overtake us in sixth spot.

Arsenal take on Burnley at The Emirates

Fighting for this lowly position is a wake up call, and shows us all how far we’ve fallen away this time around, Burnley have had a great season so far, and will surely pose a threat to our record. Sean Dyche has crafted a team that is built on a sound defence, with Nick Pope and James Tarkowski the standout performers. They’ve got threats up top too, with Ashley Barnes sure to give our defenders a few concerns.

Regarding our defence, we’ll be without Laurent Koscielny for the foreseeable future as the defender tore his achilles in Madrid. He’ll miss the next six months most likely, so Calum Chambers now has ample time to set out his stall for his first team future. David Ospina is likely to keep the gloves in goal, with Cech a doubt.

Nacho Monreal may be rested if Sead Kolasinac is fit, and Mesut Ozil is another who may be absent if previous Premier League games are to go by. Henrikh Mkhitaryan should play though, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will come back into the lineup. Will that mean a spot on the bench for Alexandre Lacazette? Or could both play together like they did a few weeks ago?

Midfield sees the absence of Mohamed Elneny, but the Egyptian is expected to be back before the end of the season. It’ll mean that Granit Xhaka will play alongside Aaron Ramsey or Jack Wilshere.

Another really welcome return on the cards – though not for this game – is Santi Cazorla. The fan-favourite Spaniard has returned to training for the first time in 19 months, and the fleet-footed midfielder has been sorely missed.

We’ve only lost twice at home all season and if it weren’t for this great record, we’d be fighting relegation, given our away form is probably among the worst in the league.

A win in this game will see of the challenge of Burnley and confirm sixth spot for us, leaving only games against Leicester City on Wednesday and Huddersfield next weekend.

We will also be celebrating Wenger in this game, with t-shirts and other events planned at the end of the game. Let’s hope we don’t forget that there’s a match to win, that will be what Wenger wants to see the most.

Predicted Lineup – Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Chambers, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Welbeck, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Aubameyang

Predicted Scoreline – 3-0 to The Arsenal

Burnley Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

If last week was anything to go on, we should hold no fear of a visit to Burnley.


Last week saw a return to our best. We used our muscle when needed but the most important muscle of all, the brain, was the key to our victory over spurs. We were clever in possession and found the chinks in their armour, and we exploited them wonderfully. It was a masterful display that restored some faith in the players and their capabilities.


If we play like that against Burnley, then we will win. We all know though, that we often fail to rise to those heights with any consistency.


Then, our away form leaves us with more doubts. One sole win away from The Emirates in the league is just dire, and far removed from what we need to harbour any hopes of any concerted challenge for the top4. Yes, we are merely a point away currently, but we can plainly see that our away form is reason for concern.


Lastly, there is our opponent. Burnley are a real force this season, and they are just goal difference below us in the table. Sean Dyche has created a wonderfully optimised team that really make the most from their men, individually and collectively. They have a fantastic record at Turf Moor, and they will be ready for us as their last game was a week ago, and it was a comfortable 2-0 win over Swansea.


This game is a real test for us, make no bones about it. They have six clean sheets from 12 games, and will strangle our midfield so they can then overrun it. We need the Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey from last week, not the other side of them that we have seen too often so far. The midfield pair were everywhere last weekend, and we will need them to do the same thing against Jeff Hendrick, Gudmondssen, Cork and Defour.


The one weakness Burnley have is goals. They have 12 from 12 thus far, and their top scorer is Sam Vokes with just three. They will play aerially if they get no joy on the flanks, and with Robbie Brady willing to sling in crosses for fun, a switched on performance is required.


Burnley have never beaten us in the Premier League. Last season saw two incredibly tight games where we could count ourselves a little lucky to grab all the points. This current incarnation of the Clarets however, is different indeed – and better.


In terms of who will play, Arsene Wenger confirmed that we picked up no new injuries in our 1-0 loss to Cologne on Thursday. This means that only Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott will miss out, the England man is still suffering from illness. Danny Welbeck played 45 minutes but his subbing was merely a precaution, according to our Manager. He will probably get a spot on the bench.


The second string that turned out in Germany did nothing to say they should get a regular starting spot, so the team that won last week should be unchanged for this game. A winning team should never be changed, and this will most likely be the case at Turf Moor.


So, another chance to better our away record. Time to shine boys.


Predicted Lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac, Ozil, Alexis, Lacazette.


Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 to The Arsenal

Arsenal Vs Burnley – The Warm-Up

A week after our 4-0 victory over Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium, Arsenal return home to The Emirates to welcome Burnley in the next round of Premier League fixtures.

The Gunners currently lie eight points behind top of the table Chelsea, and the deficit transforms every game into a tense, ‘must-win’ game. With tottenham, Liverpool, City and United either looking to sprint away from us or sneak above us, the top six is hotly contested indeed. 

Our opponents are perhaps the most contrasting of all sides in the Premier League. The Clarets home form is bettered only by Chelsea and tottenham. Their current position of tenth is maintained pretty much entirely by their home form. Their away form is relegation form – one draw from nine games, and just three goals scored – and it could well drag the Clarets into trouble if not rectified.

We can attest to Turf Moor becoming somewhat of a fortress – our 1-0 win there earlier in the season was acquired by a 95th minute Laurent Koscielny handball! – but thankfully for us all, we should have a more serene ninety minutes this time around.

Arsene Wenger has the bonus of Hector Bellerin, Keiran Gibbs and Francis Coquelin returning to duty, but Bellerin will most likely be the only one from that trio to go straight into the side. 

Olivier Giroud has also shaken off the ankle knock he received in our last game and is fit and raring to go. The Frenchman has scored in his last five games and his form could give Burnley a real headache. Giroud is showing his pedigree, and his goals are coming from all avenues; head, left foot, right foot, scorpion tail. Our bearded striker is on fire and it is imperative that this form must be utilised.

Theo Walcott is still suffering from a calf problem, and Mohamed Elneny is still on AFCON duty with Egypt. Per Mertesacker is nearing fitness but still not available, but Santi Cazorla may yet miss the entirety of the season after having a second operation. The Spaniard will be missed but with our wealth of options, it just means that a huge opportunity is there for whoever steps up to the plate.

Sean Dyche has Ashley Barnes back for selection, and with Sam Vokes, Andre Gray,  Jeff Kendrick and Steven Defour, they have threats that need to be quelled. In truth though, Burnley are a team that haven’t won a game in London in the Premier League. They have the worst record for goals scored away from home in the big five leagues in Europe, and they will turn up to our home looking to stifle and contain.

This is excusable, but how difficult will it be for the Clarets to silence not only the in form Giroud, but Alexis Sanchez? The Chilean hasn’t exactly been Mr Sunshine on the pitch of late, but he has scored or set up 21 goals this season, which is more than anyone. If Ozil can recapture some sparkle, and Alex Iwobi can continue to grow as he has done in the last few games, this game could hopefully be another comfortable win for Gooners.

Gravel-gullet Sean Dyche may be buoyed by the fact his team have won three of their last four, and seeing as we are The Arsenal we should always be on our guard against collapsing in extravagant fashion. We should win this game though, and with tottenham playing City today, there will be at least one side around us who will drop points.

We go to Chelsea in two weeks. We need to build confidence in that time, and our points total. 

Predicted Lineup; Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud.

Predicted Scoreline – 3-0 Arsenal. #UTA

Burnley 0 – 1 Arsenal: 5 Things We Learned

How can one team play two successive league games so differently? 

Last week saw us pound Chelsea with diamond speckled fists, and yet this game  saw us frustrated and slow-paced for the most part, and the overall affair was a turgid 90mins.

There are many positives to take though, especially when victory is snatched from the reality of dropped points – and in such a fortuitous manner!

There was much speculation regarding the only goal of the game. Was it scored with a handball? Was there too much additional time? Was Koscielny offside?

Sean Dyche believed all three, and although replays showed that there was a hint of offside as Koscielny lurked on the goal line, and that it looked to have rebounded off his elbow, the officials do not have the luxury of replays.

So, that makes five league wins on the bounce for us, and after Tottenham dismantled City, we now stand just two points from the top.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and this old adage succinctly summed up Wengers team selection for the game. No changes from the midweek win over Basel, aside from Cech back with the gloves – and the same side which beat Chelsea last weekend.

So, another victory, and a late, late winner. Here are the other key points from the game:

Koscielny is our big game player

Whenever a big goal is needed, invariably our titan of a defender steps up with the goods. The wins on the last day of the season Vs Newcastle and West Brom? Kos. Last month when we were a goal down Vs the Saints? The Boss. Once again it was he who made the difference, and this shows the mentality of the man. He will never say die.
We struggled? Credit to Burnley.

We huffed, we puffed, but we couldn’t break down the Clarets resolute backline. Only three goals conceded in their last 17 home games, and unbeaten before this game, Dyche’s team are a real test at Turf Moor. Critics will point to our blunted attack, but this was as much down to Burnley as our own failings. They weren’t afraid to dabble in the dark arts either….

Özil had a bad day at the office.

The man that makes us tick in attack struggled badly. His normally exquisite touch deserted him, and every attempt to pick Burnley’s lock was unsuccessful. When Mesut doesn’t play, we normally don’t turn up too, and this was the case. Hopefully the international break will reinvigorate him.

Standing up to the rough stuff.

Burnley broke down attack after attack with a well timed foul, and it happened so often. This left us with set-pieces from too large a distance as to pose any threat, but frustration grew. The professional fouling from Burnley played as big a part in the game as anything else. Nothing to complain about though. It just made for a fractured game with no rhythm – exactly what Dyche wanted. Their home record shows these tactics work a treat. 

Mustafi had a blinder

Shkodran had a running battle with Welsh striker Sam Vokes, and the physical tussles that ensued should fill Gooners with some cheer. The new recruit has adapted quickly to the demands of the Premiership, and he subdued Vokes for the majority. His defensive partner Koscielny will steal the headlines, but this time, Mustafi deserves the plaudits. 

Burnley Vs Arsenal – Team News, Stats & Full Match Preview

Arsenal are on a roll, and it is exactly how Arsene Wenger would want to celebrate his 20year anniversary. The confidence is high within the team, and four wins on the trot in all competitions, with just one goal conceded is the icing on Wenger’s proverbial cake.

In terms of the Premier League, our last outing couldn’t have been much better – our 3-0 hammering of Chelsea ended a five year winless run against the Blues, and the manner in which the victory was obtained really pleased not only the manager, but every Gooner who witnessed the game.

It has invigorated belief that this season may be the watershed campaign for the Gunners. The squad looks complete, and our key players are approaching their peak years. We have upper echelon talent in each position, and the emergence of Alexis as a striker has allowed the inherent strengths of the team to come to the fore.

Olivier Giroud has seen precious little game time, but this is largely down to a troublesome toe injury, and, in terms of our match against Burnley, it is this that again will keep the French striker out of the team. That, and Alexis’s red hot form. 

Francis Coquelin’s injury in the Chelsea game looked to have ruled the battling midfielder out for three to four weeks, but surprisingly, he will face a fitness assessment before the game to judge on his availability. Surely though, this game will be too soon for him, and the partnership of Granit Xhaka and Santi Cazorla will get another game to flourish – which it has done in the last two games. Petr Cech is also expected to regain his place after cup keeper David Ospina took the gloves for the 2-0 win over Basel in the Champions League in midweek.

Per Mertesacker, Danny Welbeck, Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Ramsey are all still unavailable, but Jenkinson recently rejoined first team training, so the lifelong Gooner will hopefully get an opportunity at right-back soon.

Burnley are one of the main reasons why the Premier League is considered the most competitive in the world. Operating on abudget that is dwarved by their opponents, yet they lie a mere three points from Chelsea who are in 8th position. Not only this, but they have broken their transfer record twice this summer, with the captures of Belgian Steven Defour and Irish midfielder Jeff Hendrick from Derby County.

The two expensive additions to the Turf Moor outfit were key in their last win – a 2-0 victory over Watford, and the set-pieces from Defour will be a huge threat in this game.

It is a good thing we have a sound backline now then. Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi are quickly developing a partnership that is scarily effective so early in their joining together. In this current run of only one goal conceded in the last four games, these two have been the main reason for such watertight defending, and they will need to be on top of their game.

The last three games between the two sides at Turf Moor have seen a total of three goals – one for Burnley and two for the Gunners – so a tight contest looks to be on the cards. Alexis may be the prime contender for breaking the potential deadlock, he has three in three against the Clarets.

If we can maintain fitness to our key players, then we have a huge potential for this season. Games such as this one though, will be just as big a hurdle as any other, but still one we are expected to vault over. 

With tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool keeping their foot on the gas, we must do the same to keep the pressure on our rivals. We must now show we are more than ready for the fight.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Walcott, Xhaka, Cazorla, Iwobi, Ozil, Alexis.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 Arsenal.

Arsenal 2-1 Burnley – The Cup Defence Continues….

Arsene Wenger will be a happy man.

Through to the Fifth-Round of the FA Cup with no need of a replay, and with a squad that has real competition for places, the Gunners Boss can look to their next game Vs Southampton with real optimism.
This 2-1 win didn’t merely signify progression to the next stage. It was also the moment that midfield lynchpin Francis Coquelin returned to the side after more than two months out. Couple that with Tomas Rosicky named on the bench and the centre of midfield is looking far healthier than it did a few games ago.
Calum Chambers, David Ospina, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Iwobi and Alexis came into the side and with a Premier League fixture only three days away, rotation was a must.

Mohamed Elneny also slotted into the team to make his debut, and he was busy from the start as Arsenal started well.
The Egyptian was industrious and motored from box to box effectively, leaving a rusty Coquelin with the job of cleaning up Burnley’s attacks. It was a partnership that showed some early signs of promise.
  

Alexis in particular seemed hungry for possession, and with his hiatus from the pitch, the playing-mad Chilean seemed eager to touch the ball and affect proceedings.

The first goal was down to Sanchez and the impressive Iwobi. Iwobi slipped the ball to Sanchez just outside the box, and with a wall of Burnley players, seemed short of options.

It was an unlikely outlet who offered Alexis a choice. Chambers, with no touch, took a couple of steps back and fizzed in a first time effort with the outside of his right boot. He will never score a better goal!

Chambers breaks the deadlock

Burnley weren’t happy to just make up the numbers, and Gray highlighted on a couple of occasions how dangerous he could be.  

In fact, It was only Ospina who stopped him scoring before Chambers’s effort, after he robbed Koscielny.
Eleven minutes later, it was indeed level. Burnley had a spot of possession and were prying around the Gunners box. Kieran Gibbs was at his impetuous best and attempted to block a pass that never came, which also saw him career into the back of Coquelin. Then, a ball from the right was fired in and Sam Vokes got the better of Gabriel and headed past Ospina.

Vokes gets the edge over Gabriel

On a whole, the partnership between Gabriel and Koscielny needs a fair bit of work, though it should be noted that this can only come from winning games. At this current moment in time however, Mertesacker and his pedestrian pace offer a far more reliable option.

The second half saw Burnley attempt to catch Arsenal cold, and they had a couple of opportunities to test a team that was showing a few signs that some of their players were clearly returning from injury.

Arsenal gave them approximately eight minutes, and then whilst Burnley attacked, the Gunners broke with intent.

Five different players were involved in the lightning quick build-up, which culminated in Oxlade-Chamberlain cutting back in the box. The ball came off a defender, but Alexis didn’t break stride and absolutely smashed a first time shot high into the net.

  

From there, Arsenal should have wrapped it up, but profligate finishing saw them fail to extend their narrow lead. Burnley never really threatened that much though, so Wenger consolidated and safeguarded with substitutes.

Mikel Arteta replaced Coquelin, Theo Walcott came on for an impressive Sanchez and to a huge cheer from the home faithful, Tomas Rosicky finally returned to the fray to replace Alex Iwobi.

  

A header from Koscielny was the highlight of the rest of the game, but all importantly, when the referee blew for full time, Arsenal were still in the hat to win three consecutive FA Cups.

After a poor run of form in the league, the sight of Coquelin and Sanchez fully fit is enough to make any Gooner rejoice. The League remains the priority, and with our club fighting on three fronts, the fact that only two players from our squad are currently unavailable will be a huge factor as Arsene attempts to have a successful season.