Arsenal 2-1 Burnley
PL review – 17th August 2019
Our first home game of the season saw us defeat Burnley and Mr. Dyche in the day’s early kick-off.
We started with a 433/4231 formation, with Xhaka and Chambers not in this side, and Luiz making his debut. Ceballos had his first start, though Pepe was on the bench. And Lacazette came back, after missing the Newcastle win.
Our record vs. Burnley has been excellent since they joined the Premier League a few years ago, and Dyche must hate our guts for it. Especially given some of the manner of our victories – including two last-minute winners at Turf Moor.
My lasting impression of this game is that we attacked well – but were defensively suspect in cases. The clean sheet gained at the Toon wasn’t repeated, though like at Newcastle we had far more attacking verve than the opposition can handle.
I also thought:
Aubameyang – Henry-esque
Auba’s winner was well-taken, and in some ways, it reminded me of how Henry scored numerous goals for us.
I’m not saying that Auba is equivalent in skill or play to Henry. But in the two PL games thus far, Auba has not just scored goals but worked the channels, played from deep, and created from the flanks, which are things Henry did in his prime. Auba is a number 9, but he’s playing more expansively lately than he did when he first joined. Yes, he is not fully adept on the wing or as a quasi-wide forward. But he’s scoring goals and jointly won the Golden Boot last season. So is it really a negative? Who knows? He’s doing his job in the team by scoring goals, so who can argue?
Auba though is getting more adept at creating from wide and linking-up in deeper regions, so his game is growing on the two games thus far.
I thought he was OK in this game. He kept Barnes, sans goal, reasonably quiet, though they still managed to get crosses in during the second half especially.
But he was stable, and whilst not outstanding, he linked-up well with Sokratis and hopefully would be a welcome addition to our side over the season.
The Los Blancos midfielder was stellar here, bringing creativity, drive, and tenacity. He got two assists, and many are saying he’s reminiscent of compatriot Santi Cazorla.
His technical skill is first-rate, and our midfield overall was mobile and matched Burnley for their strength and physicality.
Laca got the opening goal, and he used his characteristic strength and close technical ball control to weave in the penalty area and score ably.
Our player of the 18/19 season got off to a strong start, and let’s see if he can beat last season’s goal total.
Red Hot Chilli Pepe had a highly intriguing home debut.
His skill in defeating Ben Mee sparked many memes, though he set-up Auba with a chance that their keeper saved.
He also contributed to some second-half attacks and build-up, and we can see if he contribute more in our attacking third.
He’s looking as strong as ever, and his demeanour is highly calm and steady.
He can be our best keeper since compatriot “Mad Jens”, though without the “madness”.
Leno is clearly surer in playing out from the back than Cech was, and I feel he is underrated amongst PL keepers at large.
The 433/4321 had a more mobile midfield, and the combination of Guendouzi, Willock and Ceballos was fluid and able to handle what Burnley offered them.
I like Xhaka, though his initial misbilling as a DM and the fact that registas need given structures to operate well,, has limited him. He is the captain of his country (Switzerland), so he must have some quality about him. I also believe he is a leader – though not in the classic/archetypal sense of being a “shouter and pointer”. He does have a bold persona, and perhaps behind the scenes, he has the respect of his teammates and offers guidance to players in the dressing room. Furthermore, he can rough it up when needed and is a good set-piece taker.
But maybe we need to move beyond him or structure things so we utilise his strengths, which we haven’t done.
433 though is more favoured formation in contemporary football, since it provides the best overall balance. And many of the world’s top sides play it – City, Barca, Liverpool, etc. all do. Hell, even Spurs do on occasion.
This isn’t a formation issue as such, but the team needs to be more selective when playing from the back. There were times where we could have been caught out, and whilst we have the players to execute it technically, it’s not something we can do all the time.
Barnes’s goal had a deflection, so it’s harsh to cite the defence as wrong there.
But we did allow them too much time to cross, and it took some near desperate last-ditch interventions to stop headers or shots from them.
However, bar conceding the goal, they were fair overall.
What we need to see is continued lessons from game to game. We haven’t been learning from mistakes lately, but this must change if we’re to get top four.
If anything, this is something I would be looking for in all of our games, given its importance.
The Toon game had an 8/10 defensive rating. This game is a 6/10, since we didn’t close down their crossing capability.
For Liverpool, and Salah, Firmino, Mane and company, we need to be on point defensively, since they will look to expose us. It’s why we’ve had some really grating defeats there in recent years,
But our attacking line-up can cause them problems, so we shall see how things pan out next week.
First Arsenal taste of VAR
Soon after Barnes equalised, Nelson hit in from close range. However, it was ruled out for offside, and it was interesting to see our first taste of the new phenomenon.
If there is a criticism of it, I think we should hear or even see the process from the Premier League’s VAR Command Centre.
As the match was on BT Sport, then why not show BT’s feed? The club shows replays of goals and key incidents on the screens, so I don’t see why this cannot happen. Either way, I did see the BT highlights later, and it was indeed offside.
Emery – 8 – Got the line-up and tactics correct. He may be realising that this shape is optimal for the team and the Premier League.
Man of the match
Auba, Guendouzi, Leno, and Laca, all had good games.
But Ceballos for me was the best.
Comparisons with Santi are all well and good – but if he can sustain this over the long-haul, then we’ll have a player on our hands.