Arsenal vs Burnley: Drama, drama, drama

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Sometimes you just have to look at a game and be very glad you were on the end of the three points. We mostly controlled the game, as you’d expect, but we made particularly hard work of breaking through. At 1-0 up, you felt fairly confident we’d see out the result, but another stupid red card from Xhaka, combined with a dopey mistimed tackle in our box from Coquelin helped Burnley neutralize the game late on.

Lucky for us, the craziness wasn’t over, no sooner had Wenger been sent off for being a total badass, we’d earned a penalty after Laurent Koscielny was kicked full on in the head as he dived in to reach a beautiful Alexis Sanchez cross.

The Chilean stepped up in the 97th minute and dropped the cheekiest of paneka’s right down the middle. Wonderful way to finish a game and a superb reward for the fans that stayed long enough to see that game home.

So what to think? I guess part of me believes that having trouble against such a small team points to a wider issue, but it can’t really. We do well against poor teams and we’ve taken 6 points against Burnley. It’s a perception problem that really doesn’t matter when you look at the win.

However, my worries sit a bit with Xhaka. He’s just not up to pace in the league. He has a tendency to do something kind of dim in every game and he can lack mobility and timing when it comes to tackling. I think it’s a bit unfair to say he has a discipline problem, 3 bookings in 27 games show he’s not a major problem… but the clutz like red cards tell a story. Can’t hit him too hard, his passing was top notch at 90% completion, he created 3 chances and made 7 ball recoveries along with 3 successful tackles. Those red cards cancel the good out.

He had a similar issue when he was given the captaincy at BM. I think he picked up 5 reds in 95 games and a whole chunk of them start of the 2015 season. Things were so bad he had to make a donation to a charity to appease the fans. Then he turned it on and we bought him. So let’s forgive him, let’s not read too much into and let’s hope he starts to pick up the pace a bit more and learns from his mistakes.

My bigger fear is that another game, another Giroud up front performance. He should be slipping in against Burnley, but my concern is that we had a great system with Alexis through the middle and we’ve sacrificed it for Giroud. Works against poor teams, but I think Chelsea are going to have very few problems with our lumbering hit man. We should be hitting them with pace and unpredictable movement. I don’t think we will though, we’ll go for players over a system and we’ll try and slug it out against the league’s form side.

That’s not to say I think we’ll lose. We beat the Champions twice last year, and I’d Eden Hazard a guess we’ll do the same this year. Fits nicely with the narrative that we’re pretty damn good, if only for… <insert whatever the 5% extra thing Wenger could do this summer>.

There’s also some pretty mental chat about Wenger being harshly punished for his handbags with the 4th official. It’s so pathetic, 10 game ban? Why, because it’s Arsene Wenger and he won’t call the press out in a conference? Arsenal’s bad behaviour is always latched onto harder than anyone else’s for some reason. Can’t remember too many people talking about Mourinho with the same viciousness despite him being sent off twice and being a far nastier influencer on refs over all. But there you go.

Right, podcast will be recorded tomorrow as we preview the Chelsea game.

Have a great day!

190 Responses to “Arsenal vs Burnley: Drama, drama, drama”

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  1. qna

    Emirates, we have to sacrifice the FA cup. The question is not really about who replaces Xhaka. The more important question is the workload on Sanchez and Ozil who traditionally we play in all of these games eventually leading to an injury. I would go as follows:

    EPL
    Cech
    Bellerin-Kos-Mustafi-Monreal
    Ramsey-Coquelin
    Welbeck-Iwobi-Ozil
    Sanchez

    UCL
    Cech
    Bellerin-Kos-Mustafi-Monreal
    Xhaka-Coquelin
    Welbeck-Ramsey-Ozil
    Sanchez

    FA Cup
    Ospina
    Gabriel-Mustafi-Holding-Gibbs
    Ramsey-Oxlaide
    Adelaide-Iwobi-Perez
    Giroud

  2. Black Hei

    qna

    I probably have to qualify the statement further regarding Kante and back 4. My point is that Kante will be a big hit for us as an upgrade of Coquelin as long as he gets to play alongside Carzola or Xhaka.

    I have to reluctantly agree with you about selling Carzola. I think his talent cannot be replaced. But if we are going to get in an additional body, that person will need playing time and that is just not going to happen if Carzola and Xhaka are both at the club.

  3. Dream10

    qna

    Agree Ramsey will no start on Saturday against Southampton as I don’t see AW taking a risk with the only two CMs are available are available. Don’t see the Jeff getting any time in an XI. See Welbeck getting CL and FA Cup minutes. Perez is at the bottom of attacking pecking order.
    He’ll need to perform like a peak Henry to get a spot in the front four ahead of the HG quintet (Walcott, Welbeck, Chamberlain, Iwobi and even Ramsey who will get time as a #10 and #7 in March/April)

  4. qna

    Emirates: Do you think that we can afford to sacrifice FA Cup this season?

    Yes, because it really doesnt matter if we win it. We won 2 FA cups just in the last 3 years but there is no let up in pressure from those fans that aren’t happy with Wenger anyway. There is little relief from the media. The only thing that will seemingly satisfy is a league title. Especially now that Spurs are a very real threat to it.

    We cannot let up on the UCL either because we rely on that to keep interest of our best players at staying at the club. If we played a weak team in the CL, it would cause massive damage to our credibility at keeping guys like Sanchez and Ozil, not to mention bringing new talent. Players want to see ambition and CL football is what it is really about.

    So that leaves only the FA cup. If we want to seriously challenge for the league, while still playing our strongest team in our final two CL games against Bayern then we must avoid injury to our best players. Ozil has already had a bit of a rest, so could possibly play through. But Sanchez IS going to get an injury unless he is managed. To be honest, I think we would struggle to beat Southampton at home in an FA cup game even if we put our best side out. So why not put players that might actually have the motivation to play the best game they have ever played in their life up against them. If Adelaide is good enough for Arsenal then play him. Same with Holding and Iwobi.

    The problem is though that Wenger and the board dont need much of an excuse to have him sign an extension. He may well be thinking that he knows he cant win the league. He knows he cant win the CL. If he prioritises the FA cup and manages to win it then they can justify the status quo and extension. That would be more than enough of an excuse from their side. But I dont think it would quiet many of us that want an end to this regime.

  5. Emiratesstroller

    qna

    Okay I buy your argument, but as I said we could be effectively out of all three competitions by mid February if we lose to Southampton, Chelsea and Bayern.

    I think that will even greater outrage amongst Le Grove ‘moaners’.

  6. tunnygriffboy

    Santi – injured
    Elneny – Afcon
    Wilshere – on loan
    Xhaka – suspended

    Ramsey/Coquelin only two senior DMs we have for the next four games. What do we do in case of injury or if one needs a rest/subbed in a game ? Do they start v Southampton?

    Bloody nightmare

  7. tunnygriffboy

    Qna

    We do not have to sacrifice the fa cup. Sure we’ll need to rotate. Bellerin could start because he’s just back from injury, ditto Mustafi. Kos could have a rest. Gibbs in for Monreal.

    Upfront you could play Lucas, Welbeck, Ox and I’ve heard Walcott is training.

    Problem is midfield. At least one of Coquelin or Ramsey has to play. Ox could slot in there for the cup game or does Maitland -Niles get a run ?

    The midfield from looking strong at the beginning of the season is now threadbare. It’s a worry leading into the Chelsea game.

  8. qna

    Emirates: Okay I buy your argument, but as I said we could be effectively out of all three competitions by mid February if we lose to Southampton, Chelsea and Bayern.

    That sounds familiar. Now where have I seen that before?

  9. Redtruth

    I warned about purchasing Cech, Mustafi and Xhaka.
    None of these players fit the bill.

    Priority #1 has always been to find a Centre forward and a quality attacking Midfielder

  10. qna

    Tunny. Yeah, Oxlaide should be given the job for the FA cup. I would put him along side Ramsey. The reason being that of all the players that we might have to overwork at the risk of injury. Ramsey is the one guy we can afford to lose now. We cannot lose Coq for the rest of the season. He must play every important game from here on out.

    I am not saying forfeit the FA cup match. I am saying we must rest players, even if that means sacrificing the game. Above all else, we must rest Sanchez because we will be screwed if he gets injured. Last season he was being over-worked, kept getting played in every game and as was predictable he did a hamstring and missed 6 weeks. Alexis has done a massive amount of work this season without rest now. This is a guy who sprints up and down the field like no other and plays in nearly every game. So lets actually “manage” our team and rest him before he gets that injury.

  11. qna

    RT: I warned about purchasing Cech, Mustafi and Xhaka. None of these players fit the bill.

    I actually was not happy with these three either – Cech was too old and past his prime, Xhaka was not what we needed and Mustafi I thought was not elite enough. I would have preferred we signed Leno, Kante and VVD (as well as bring in a replacement for Santi and a wide attacker like Mane or Mahrez). But I have been pleasantly surprised by Mustafi. I thought he has done enough to earn his 35m. The test for him will be against Bayern.

    So how am I in “lol damage limitation”? I have us out of all three competitions in a month and out of the top 4 by the end of the season? But I do enjoy your posts Red.

  12. qna

    Wallace: As long as Egypt don’t make the AFCON Final Elneny will be back for Chelsea.

    How pathetic we have become that I actually want Elneny to play a game for us.

  13. Redtruth

    qna
    “We cannot let up on the UCL either because we rely on that to keep interest of our best players at staying at the club. If we played a weak team in the CL, it would cause massive damage to our credibility at keeping guys like Sanchez and Ozil, not to mention bringing new talent. Players want to see ambition and CL football is what it is really about.”

    Lol..Bringing new talent such pensioner Cech, Mustafi, Xhaka and Perez ..

  14. qna

    RT: Lol..Bringing new talent such pensioner Cech, Mustafi, Xhaka and Perez ..

    As I just said, none of these were my choice. Especially Perez, which I lost the plot about. The talent we need to bring in wouldnt come to us anyway. In any case Red, Messi is not good enough for you you clown. Why do you even bother saying names. Lol.

  15. tunnygriffboy

    Qna

    Lucas/Welbeck/Walcott with Iwobi behind is a tidy mobile front four. It’s the midfield two that’s the worry. Wallace has said that Elneny may be available for Chelsea. That would give us another option.

    Ramsey/Ox in CM would leave us hideously open hence my call to play Coquelin.

    Interesting what side Southampton will put out. Fonte is off to West Ham, Van Dijk got taken off on the weekend with an ankle injury. They go to Liverpool on Wednesday in LC and play Swansea away on the Tuesday after they play us. If they get a result on Wednesday I can see them resting a good few for Saturday. Southampton our bogey side though

  16. tunnygriffboy

    Qna

    What has Lucas done wrong ? I think he deserves more game time

    I to want Elneny to play for us. Why are you so disparaging towards him. He’s made some useful contributions this season.

  17. Wallace

    trouble in paradise….

    “It’s very annoying to see Atletico, after going 1-0 up in the first few minutes, defend and wait for the counter, because they have enough quality and ability as a team to keep attacking. They didn’t do it and Athletic Bilbao came back, and in the end Atletico needed that goal from Griezmann to get a point.

    I don’t think a draw is enough. They are a better team than Athletic Bilbao, but they didn’t show it and it has happened a few times this season that Atletico players lose focus.

    It is more and more seeming like it could be the end of an era under Diego Simeone, although I think it could still go on for a year and a half.

    The absence of focus in big moments or games, and their lack of care of details, suggest that the message from the manager might not arrive as clearly as in the past.”

    – Guillem Balague

  18. qna

    Tunny: What has Lucas done wrong ? I think he deserves more game time

    He didnt do anything right in the first place. He was never good enough to play for Arsenal. He has had one good season and he is 28 years old. The same reason I was dead against us buying Vardy and is it really a surprise to you that he is back to the player he was 2 years ago?

    We have needed to buy a world class CF for 10 years now. Yet we piss around with Welbecks and Perezs. Dont even start me on Chamack, Park, Bendtner, Sonogo etc.

    This business of spending 17m on Perez and 16m on Welbeck is simply false economy. We should be spending what it takes to bring a player that the club of the calibre of Arsenal needs. We missed our chance with Dybala and I was screaming loudly that that is what we should do. We could have gone for Cavani when he was unhappy and looking for a move. We messed up Higuain. So after screwing up time and time again, and not getting our business done the way a professional club should, we revert to panic buys of useless players like Perez and Welbeck.

  19. qna

    Red: Why don’t Basel attract top players if Champions league football is what it’s really about.?

    Can Basel pay them? Top players don’t play for cheap? They will go to China, what makes you so sure they wont go to Basel.

  20. tunnygriffboy

    Wallace

    If Simeone leaves will we see that side broken up ? Will their players move to pastures new and better wages ? Rumours of Greizmann to man u and we’ve been linked to Carrasco. Lot of good players there

  21. tunnygriffboy

    Qna

    We arguably have one of the top 10 attacking players in the world playing for us who is topping this seasons scoring charts. Giroud has a good goal record this season but Alexis should still be playing CF.

    Lucas has done well on the few opportunities he’s had and Welbeck offers the team a lot though we haven’t seen the best of him due to injury.

    You can’t stack a squad with everyone being wc. It doesn’t work. Players of that calibre want to play every week

    I agree we’ve needed a wc striker but so far this season Alexis has done a pretty good job. Lucas is obviously a squad player (you have to have them), his goal scoring when played has been good and he’s looked good in combination play. 7 think he deserves more game time that’s all.

  22. Wallace

    I’m surprised Lucas hasn’t had more chances to impress. no way I’d select him ahead of Alexis at #9 but whenever he gets a chance he invariably scores some goals.

    re Alexis – kinda pissed Wenger’s persevering with Giroud up top. we’re a far more dangerous side when it’s the Chilean up there. hoping with Walcott back in training and Welbeck’s return that Wenger switches it up again soon.

  23. Dream10

    Wallace

    AW has his favourites. Welbeck, who just returned from injury and looked very rusty, has already usurped Perez in the pecking order. My guess is that, AW regards Perez as quality penalty box player who lacks a little bit of pace and is slightly peripheral at times. He has more skill and offensive ability than Walcott for example, but the Englishman’s work rate and pace tilts the balance in his favour.

  24. Wallace

    Dream10

    I really like Welbeck, certainly the Welbeck of last season. haven’t got a problem with him jumping the queue ahead of the Spaniard. guess I’m hoping that Wenger shoehorning him into the side results in Giroud dropping to the bench.

  25. R.S.P.C.Arsenal

    Pedro

    So your saying that this is not the player we wanted or thought we were signing ?
    Who was instructing the scouts when they were watching him xhara ?
    Just shows what a pantomime manager he really is ,

    He is allowed to spunk 35m on a player we didn’t really need !

    He wouldn’t buy kante because he overlooked him when he was in France ,
    His statement we thought he was not ready …shit.

    Everyone knew he was the player we needed , media , fans….

    But he won’t be told will him….

  26. R.S.P.C.Arsenal

    Who will be the new short term manager whilst the embarrassment sits out his lengthy ban….

    Gould ?
    Atkins ?

    Sanchez??

    Who will be making the decisions while he watches at the local hotel ,,,

  27. Wallace

    R S P C Arsenal

    as someone has already pointed out, Wenger made the ‘Xhaka b2b player’ remark months ago when Cazorla had a lock on the deep playmaker role. no idea why Pedro’s trying to make something out of it now.

  28. Dream10

    Wallace

    I think if Walcott gets 25-30 minutes this weekend w/out any setback, I would expect big Oli Giroud to be back on the bench next week when we host Watford.
    Think Welbeck may start against Southampton and get 60 minutes. You’d expect him to be a substitute against Watford.
    The Watford match next Tuesday will be a tricky one. They’ll sit back like Burnley and look to hit us on the counter. They beat us last year around the exact same time at the Emirates in the FA Cup using this tactic. Our slow possession style is not ideal for breaking down teams who defend in a deep block.

  29. Wallace

    Dream10

    “I think if Walcott gets 25-30 minutes this weekend w/out any setback, I would expect big Oli Giroud to be back on the bench next week when we host Watford.”

    hope you’re right.

  30. Snowman

    I hope Wenger gets a full 10 match stadium ban. Then maybe Steve Bould can stop being a little bitch and come out of his shell and show something we haven’ 13 years…IN GAME MANAGEMENT!!! Your time has come Bouldy, step out of the shadows!
    Whats the worst that can happen? Our best strategy has been the 4-2-PURE LUCK-Sanchez Formation anyway.

  31. tunnygriffboy

    I hope he reverts to Alexis up top. Sadly I’m afraid we won’t see it.

    Xhaka does need to rain it in. However I’m convinced he’ll come good. He’s got a lot of quality. He’s had some good games and good moments. It could be that he’s one of those players that takes a little bit of time to totally settle. As Pedro alluded to in his blog he did some good things on Sunday. I’m all for sticking with him and think he’ll get better

  32. Snowman

    We have NO excuse whatsoever to losing to Southampton on the weekend. They Play Liverpool Tomorrow in the League Cup. Should be a high Tempo match, we should batter them at St. Marys.

  33. JEB11

    Joe,

    The Falcons are going to upset the Patriots, and bring the trophy back to Atlanta! Wish I had the same confidence in the Gunners….