Burnley 0 – 0 Arsenal: After two steps forward, Arteta and his men took one back again.
Eight Observations from a hard-on-the-eye game with, nevertheless, some shoots of positivity:
- We started reasonably well and should have taken one or two of our more than half-decent chances. Both Laca and Auba showed their rustiness early on and after that we did not really create similar chances to punish the dull as dishwater Clarets. Our lack of aerial prowess in attack became once again painfully clear (Giroud would have had a brace yesterday). After 25 minutes or so we let Burnley into the game and we never were able to dominate them again. This lack of dominance was caused by us sitting too deep and not being strong (see also last point) and compact enough in midfield.
- After getting back to basics and putting Torreira and Xhaka in deep-midfield when Arteta took over, he is currently preferring the combo of Xhaka and Guendouzi. The young Frenchman has lots of potential but, with Xhaka in a deeper and left-leaning role, Arteta has put a lot of pressure on his curls-covered shoulders. At best this is a work in progress and leaving the much-appreciated Torreira on the bench was a bold move. We lacked cohesion and effective link-up play in midfield between both Xhaka and Guendouzi, and Ozil and the Frenchman. It worked a treat in the first half v Bournemouth on Monday but not so v Burnley.
- The injury to Saka impacted us more than it should have. He managed to complete the first half but did not return for the second one. Producing quality crosses and passes into the box is one of Bukayo’s great attributes and once these stopped we really lacked attacking ideas, which is a worry. Xhaka did well defensively, but neither Auba or occasionally Martinelli were able to fill the void of silky Saka. Was Pepe not fully fit?
- My bigger point is that the lack of LB options meant that Granit had to be moved to LB which then affected our balance in midfield significantly – neither Guendouzi or Torreira filled the void and we were never again a force on the left side of our attack as a result.
- It is of course not easy to play good football against a well-organised, defence-minded team like Burnley, but the starting point is playing with a high tempo, intensity and daring to push up. We lacked all of this. The good thing is that we defended reasonably well and kept a clean sheet, allowing the Clarets just two shots on target (same as we achieved, so 0-0 was a fair result). We did need a dolop of luck though, with Rodriguez’s volley bouncing down from the bar on the line rather than behind it. They also missed some decent headers with which they bombarded us on a regular basis, as expected. The defence just about held out and a clean sheet away is something to build on.
- Mustafi, who we feared was injured for months to come, made a miraculous recovery and played with his usual gusto. This time there were no calamities and maybe Arteta is working his wonders with him and turn the German into a regular first-teamer… It would be some achievement, wouldn’t it, JW1? 🙂
- I cannot decide on our MOTM; your suggestions are welcome! Nobody stood out to me and we lacked the leadership on the pitch to get the team over the line in terms of finding that winning goal. Laca works hard but this role does not work for him; I wanted more from Auba, especially after his poor sending off and subsequent suspension; Martinelli was isolated on the right and missed his buddy, the Silk, on the left (when he finally got to play there), and; Ozil did not bring anything extra either (and in his defence this was not because of a lack of desire but a lack of support from midfield). I missed the collective awareness that this was a must-win game for these Gunners.
- My eigth observation is a full copy of a comment PB made re the game: “There are games – seen recently – where the youngsters outperform the veterans, and there are some – including but not limited to yesterday’s visit to Burnley – where the youngsters are our main liability. However I think it has little to do with age, maturity and experience. We were struggling yesterday – in my humble opinion – because we lost 90% of every body-to-body duels. Playing out from the back didn’t work out due to Burnley’s surprisingly effective front pressing, and when Leno kicked a long ball to the field it was the start of a Burnely (counter)attack most of the time. So it was probably a coincidence that our players that couldn’t deal with the physicality of the big, brute b*stards (BBB) were the technical, yet thin/small (and at the same time young) players like Bellerin, Martinelli, Guendouzi and Saka. I think if we could have started the game with AMN, Pepe, Torreira and Kolasinac in their position respectively, the outcome would have been much favourable. (Captain hindsight reporting for duty.) So I’m only a bit uncertain if Arteta could have foreseen of the physicality of the game, and could have opted a different side and tactics.
By TotalArsenal (and PB).