Arsenal v. Burnley Preview; Pesky Bees Want to Sting Arsenal Again

I've only got one thing on my mind
I've only got one thing on my mind

Arsenal are privileged to host a Burnley side who have harassed and kicked their way past Chelsea, Fulham, West Brom, Tottenham and (as we already know) Arsenal in cup ties this season. Burnley is a club that plays traditional English football which means that they takes cup runs very, very seriously play solid at the back, tackle hard, take their chances efficiently, and harass the midfield. Arsenal will need some steel to pry this match from their cold Lancashire hands.

When the Bees hosted a mostly first team Chelsea back in November, tempers flared and boiled to the point that Drogba lost his mind (it’s a small thing so it’s easy to lose) and not only gave Burnley supporters the finger, but even tossed a coin back into the crowd. It was a moment of madness, obviously, but indicative of how Burnley frustrate their opponents. Arsenal’s midfield will need to show composure and maturity if they are going to get past this club.

Against Chelsea, the Burnley defense weathered 22 shots while their offense managed just 4, but 4 was all they needed as they converted those few shots into the one goal that got them into extra time. Similarly against Arsenal in December, Burnley allowed Arsenal the lion’s share of possession and when presented with 7 chances converted them into 2 goals.

Compact, efficient, harassing, these will be some pesky bees indeed.

In December, Wenger had the excuse of playing children but he’ll have no such luxury this time out. Apart from first choice players Fabregas, Toure, and Adebayor, Arsenal have to be considered to have a full compliment of players. Wenger has already indicated that he will do some rotating; Fabianski will come in for Almunia and possibly seeking revenge for the 2-0 drubbing he took back in December. Arshavin is gaining match fitness and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t start since he is ineligible to play against Roma when Arsenal continue their Champions League campaign on Wednesday in Rome. Walcott is back and raring to go, look for him to come on in the 60th minute, possibly for Arshavin. Eduardo too has recovered from his hamstring injury but given Burnley’s style of play I’d be surprised if he gets a start — memories of the Taylor tackle will still be raw for the Crozillian and seeing the Burnley bullies bearing down on him might be too much. Wenger has to be aware of this and will more likely bring him on for van Persie if we need a goal late.

Of course that’s all guess work and one of the things that’s been “fun” about this season is waking up and seeing who Wenger will include in the lineup. I fully expect all of my logic to be upended and see some nutty lineup tomorrow.

Either way, Burnley are ready, with their boss Owen Coyle already plotting the post match handshake.

As hurtful as it would have been for him to lose in the Carling Cup Arsene Wenger was very complimentary and wished us well. I don’t think he will be wishing us well before the game on Sunday but I hope he is wishing us well after it. We are well aware Arsenal will have the bulk of possession and put us under pressure but I’m confident we can stand up to that. It is a different game on Sunday in that we are at the Emirates and they will have 55,000 behind them and we will have 5,000 but what a marvellous occasion to go and show you can play a bit.

I’m hoping that Arsenal show that they can play a bit as well.

Right, 6:30am (PST) kickoff and I’m going to be starting the live blog at 6:15am, so stop on by. See you tomorrow.

6 Comments on Arsenal v. Burnley Preview; Pesky Bees Want to Sting Arsenal Again

  1. Every week for the past month the next game has been slated as the “most important” for an Arsenal victory.

    It’s been extremely unfortunate that a top club like Arsenal has frittered away their early season with losses to bottom feeder teams like Stoke, Fulham, Hull, etc., and now find themselves in the rare predicament of fighting for CL qualification next season. However, it is what it is.

    A loss to Burnley, tomorrow is unthinkable, not because we would be knocked out of the FA Cup but because of the erosion in confidence this young and emotionally unstable group of kids would suffer going into the mid week CL return game at Roma. We definitely need to keep our unbeaten streak going forward into the tough portion of our EPL program where we will be facing Chelsea, Manu and Liverpool, with 2 of those games being away.

    We need to keep our confidence high, beat the remaining fodder we play against in the EPL and go into our last month ahead of Aston Villa in points and put the pressure on their heads rather than on ours.

    My speculative lineup as I try to get into Arsene’s head is:

    Fabianski

    Sagna, Song, Djourou, Gibbs

    Nasri, Denilson, Diaby, Vela

    Arshavin

    Bendtner

    Bench: RVP, Eduardo, Walcott, Gallas, Eboue, Ramsey

    My thinking here, bearing in mind the 3 day turnaround for the Roma game he will not risk Gallas or RVP getting injured, especially Gallas, since both of our other options at CB, Silvestre and Toure are injured. Clichey has been looking a little stale recently and will probably also be rested and Vela deserves a chance to start.

    The first 20 minutes will decide the tone of the game. If we score early we probably will ending up winning 4-1, if not, I see us eking out a 1-0 victory with a goal in the last 3 minutes of regular time.

    Up the Arse (no pun intended).

  2. Arsenal has many weaknesses in a long EPL season. It has been discussed at length here. But if you look at the team, it is very strong for a cup type competition which requires just enough steel and enough flashes of brilliance over 1 or 2 games at a time. Don’t be surprised if we end up 6th in the EPL, but win 1 or both of the FA Cup or CL.

  3. From day 1 of this season I said our best opportunity for trophies were the CL and FA. Can’t see us winning the CL though because of our inconsistency and the quality clubs we will have to beat in order to do so. Might reach the semis or final though, and if we do reach the finals anything can happen.

    With Arshavin CL Cup tied it will make so much more difficult to win. Like many others I suppose, have been wondering what our season would have looked like had we got Arshavin and Alonso in the summer.

  4. Hi,

    I’ve just read the preview report above and as a Burnley fan, i found a couple of points to be inaccurate. Firstly our nickname is the “CLARETS” and secondly while we may harass teams with our workrate, we certainly don’t kick people out of the game! If you said that 2 years ago i would agree but we are now playing some great attacking football and have some talented players. Don’t get me wrong, it will take an almighty effort to beat you guys and a huge slice of luck but that’s the beauty of the F.A. Cup, everyone can dream. Good luck and may the best team win!

    Rob W

  5. Rob W – thanks for the comments. That’s just Tim not doing his research and pulling stuff out of his ass. You’ll have to forgive him. Best of luck mate.

  6. Alex, one word: Eb*ue.

    I looked at previous matches and came to the above conclusions. The Burnley fan can disagree and I always appreciate a dissenting view but the Chelsea game was a disgrace. The supporters threw coins at the players and the team kicked Chelsea to the point of a literal eruption by Drogba.

    Championship Quality teams’ supporters always claim that their team don’t kick anyone anymore.

    You’ll see.

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