Saturday, 11 April 2015

Burnley vs Arsenal: Match Preview

Preview | Pre-match conference | Team news

It's important to keep the momentum going, not only because of how the table stacks, but also because there's an FA Cup semi final on the way. Burnley are one of the weakest teams in the league, yes, but any away game in the Premier League has the potential to be quite tricky, as Manchester City found out at Selhurst Park.

And look, this game could be a perfect tune-up on how to approach next week. Both teams - Burnley and Reading - are of a similar ilk, which makes it rather probable that a similar mentality may be required to dispatch away both of them.

Sure, Burnley could be like how Granada were for Real Madrid - earmarking the games they need for survival and entirely giving up on the rest. However, I wouldn't put it past Heisenberg Sean Dyche to look to snatch something away from this game. They've been rather good against the top sides - especially City - and they burst a lung for the smallest half-chance.

This is just one of those games that we need to get through to get to the matches carrying greater credence like against United, Chelsea and next week. However, we shouldn't look to underestimate this opposition. We had a tough time at St. James' and Selhurst Park. There's every chance that today could be akin to those struggles.

Having said that, I'd prefer some rotation. The likes of Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud are in monstrous form, but are due a breather despite having a week of rest. I understand why players like Theo Walcott are not trusted by Wenger, but surely he's Premier League standard enough to get a game today?

While Ospina is a nailed-on certainty in goal, the right back position could offer the manager some food for thought. Mathieu Debuchy is fully fit and raring to go, while the lad from Barcelona is in fine form. Personally, despite progressing as fast as he runs, I still have minor positional doubts about him. That, coupled with the need to rotate a 20 year old fullback who's played almost every match in the past 3 months means that I hope Debuchy gets the nod today.

Gabriel should act as an ice pack for either Mertesacker or Koscielny today, and I hope Kieran Gibbs gets a chance too. There are doubts about his defensive contribution, but again, he should be more than capable of holding out Burnley. Lest we forget this is the same Gibbs who made acres of strides last season and was the undisputed starting left back for a while.

Francis Coquelin should start in midfield along with Ramsey, but it's the rest of the front four that intrigue me. While I think Arsene will choose the safer option of overplaying Cazorla, Ozil, Sanchez and Giroud, I hope at least two of them are rested. We have players like Rosicky, the returning Wilshere, Walcott and Welbeck to provide much needed backup. There's really no point in having these players if they don't get the nod in matches like today.

My gut says that today could be a close match, simply because there doesn't seem to be enough seriousness coming into the game. Wenger was right when he said that we need to stay focused because the two Manchester clubs are breathing down our necks, and I hope we approach this game with the requisite rubber gloves. Certainly not by showing Burnley too much respect and taking them on the counter, but instead by cautiously imposing our style of play and consolidating once we get the lead.

Right, time to catch the second half of the Everton game. See you on the other side.

Up The Arse!

-Santi [Follow me on Twitter @ArsenalBlogz ]

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