Technical analysis Arsenal vs Burnley

Tactical Analysis: Arsenal vs. Burnley

With all those around them dropping points, this game truly was a must-win for the Gunners. The opportunity to go second in the league and become Chelsea's main title rivals dangled in front of Wenger & his men. What stood in their way was a Burnley team that boasted the 3rd best home league form in the country but have only secured one point away from home all season.

Burnley have drawn 1 and lost 9 games away from home.

Team News:

Arsène Wenger made no changes to the team (4-2-3-1) that dispatched of Swansea 4-0 last week. Gabriel retained his place at right-back with Héctor Bellerín only fit enough for the bench. Arsenal also welcomed Kieran Gibbs & Francis Coquelin back to the matchday squad. Burnley manager Sean Dyche also opted not to change his starting XI (4-4-2), naming the same team that beat Southampton last weekend.

Arsenal, Burnley line-up

Free-flowing 4-2-3-1 vs. compact 4-5-1/4-4-2 (in attack).

1st half) No space in the Final Third:

deep defending

​Burnley alternating between playing 4 or 5 at the back.

On the face of it, this game promised to be the same as many a game at the Emirates. The home team frustratingly dominating possession against a low-block team to no avail. However, Burnley offered more threat than most teams that visit the Emirates. After lining up on paper as a 4-4-2 the Clarets opted to defend in a 4-5-1 with Ashley Barnes dropping into midfield to man mark Granit Xhaka. Barnes, Gray and Boyd acted as the first wave of the press to stop Arsenal getting into the final third. The Gunners tried their best to occupy each of the Burnley back four but struggled to maintain it as Alexis & Özil came deeper to link up with Xhaka.

On the face of it, this game promised to be the same as many a game at the Emirates. The home team frustratingly dominating possession against a low-block team to no avail. However, Burnley offered more threat than most teams that visit the Emirates. After lining up on paper as a 4-4-2 the Clarets opted to defend in a 4-5-1 with Ashley Barnes dropping into midfield to man mark Granit Xhaka. Barnes, Gray and Boyd acted as the first wave of the press to stop Arsenal getting into the final third. The Gunners tried their best to occupy each of the Burnley back four but struggled to maintain it as Alexis & Özil came deeper to link up with Xhaka.

Despite the minimal amount of space, Arsenal were surprisingly more varied in their build up, adding an element of directness. The incisive cutbacks of Sánchez took several players out at a time. However, on the other side, Alex Iwobi was struggling to get involved in the game. The Nigerian youngster has always played better on the left, but I feel Wenger opted to play Sánchez there instead due to his chemistry with Monreal. On the other flank Gabriel continued to impress in parts, his intelligent off-ball movement helped quicken the tempo of play. However, the Brazilian was often a weakness in the final third due to his lack of explosive pace and poor decision making on the ball. He was reserved in his surges forward due to the counter-attacking threat of Burnley.

Gray drift outside

​Gray drifting out wide into the channels, dragging Koscielny with him.

Burnley striker Andre Gray was an ever-present danger down the wide channels, looking to stay positioned on the shoulder of Koscielny. The forward did get in behind a few times but lacked vital support in the middle. As the game grew on Burnley started to commit more men forward, leaving gaping holes in the middle of the pitch. Holes that Arsenal failed to capitalise on due to the lack of pace in their attack. Olivier Giroud laboured up front and lost the majority of aerial duels, he was useless for the most part, completing only 17 passes all game.

On the flip side, Mesut Özil was doing all he could to make it happen in the final third. He was pulling all the strings. He was one step ahead of his teammates who were always playing catch up to his movements. You could see the German picturing the movement of his teammates in his head, movements they hadn't even thought of. The movement in front of him was static, but he still managed to control the game by shifting the Burnley defense from side to side.

2nd half) Counter-attack vs. Counterattack:

After gaining a long-awaited breakthrough with a Shkodran Mustafi header, Granit Xhaka then decided to throw the game into jeopardy. In the 65th minute, the Swiss international lunged two-footed into a challenge after initially losing the ball, he was given a straight red. It seems as though the 24-year old is still a step behind the pace of the English game. Granit seems to be too eager to press all the time and perhaps needs to play in a 3 with others pressing in front of him, he should always stay deep, cover and dictate.

ozil in deep postion

​Mesut Ozil dropping deep to have a better view of his passing options.

The Gunners managed to grind out a late victory in the end but fans will be concerned that they struggled to see off a poor Burnley side. Even with their defensive mindset, Burnley looked dangerous every time they ventured forward. That says more about the set up of Arsenal than the attacking prowess of Burnley. Despite the upgrade of personnel in the summer, the defensive system is still heavily reliant on the positioning of Laurent Koscielny.

As this stage of the season, three points is all that matters, the result of this match will undoubtedly be marred by the refereeing performance of John Moss. But the Gunners will know that the 24 shots they mustered on goal will justify the outcome of the match. Burnley can take solace in the fact that they defended resolutely and attacked efficiently and on another day, they could have taken home all three points. The win leaves the Gunners eight points behind Chelsea, but ahead of the chasing pack. In two weeks time, Wenger's men travel to Stamford Bridge for perhaps the biggest game of the year so far.

About the Author Mathaeus Abuwa

Arsenal fan with a soft spot for Pascal Cygan.

Leave a Comment: