What do you get when you combine the team with the worst away record in the English Premier League, with a team who have won eleven and drawn one of fourteen home games? Well, I right good drubbing, I’d like to think.
And thats what I predict Burnley are in for tonight. Not exactly a prediction out of left field, obviously, but when I say drubbing I’m talking about a real shit-kicking. I’m talking 7-0, people. We are long overdue this season for posting a win like that.
So 6 to 7 nil is my prediction for the Burnley game, which is quite clearly one we would be expecting to win, but is a match that is not without its pitfalls. Which Arsenal will turn up, the team that grafted passionate victories against Bolton at the Reebok, Fulham at the Cottage and Stoke at the Britannia? Or the team that folded on a wind and rain swept night against a determined Coyle-lead Burnley at Turf Moor. I’d like to think the second team I talked about is well and truly buried this season.
Because that is what these final games are going to require; a certain drive and passion which I believe only the Arsenal possess, but has only really come to manifest itself fully in the past month, with character defining performances against Liverpool, Stoke and Sunderland.
Of course, this is a game not without its pitfalls, but this is more Arsenal’s game to throw away than Burnley’s to win. A few key injuries to lend themselves to making it easy for us, I’m thinking particularly of Campbell being out, combined with Song’s FA enforced absence, meaning than none other than the King of Incompetence himself, Silvestre, will be partnering Vermaelen tonight. Lets just hope he doesn’t do anything terrible, as he is our most glaring weakness heading into the game.
On the other hand, we can celebrate the return of Arshavin for the game, and Diaby to the squad. Whether Diaby starts remains to be seen, though I’d be surprised and disappointed if Arshavin begins the match merely on the bench.
So how will we win it?
This question isn’t too tough, when facing Burnely at the Emirates, but nevertheless we’ll look at it anyway. We need to keep possession well, and just take our time on the build up. There is no need to rush things, we should be able to shellshock this team with our quick passing and exceptional movement. Taking our chances is also key, and I’m looking to Bendtner to continue his good form. Don’t be afraid to shoot from the edge of the area; Fabregas, Rosicky, Arshavin, you lads all have the ability so don’t feel the need to put it through the eye of the needle. Regardless, I think we should be able to get in behind them in the box reasonably easily.
How can we lose it?
Throwing possession cheaply could be our biggest enemy tonight. Burnley will likely look to hoof it in deep and hopefully steal a cheap goal, as I doubt they have the pace to hit us on the counter. We could struggle if we give them the ball to throw at us. I can only see this being a problem in the early stages of the game, where they might be able to sneak an early goal, similar to Stoke. It could get their noses us and make the whole night that much more difficult. Something to keep in mind.
The Bottom Line
Burnley are likely to play with 9 men in their own half and two way up front, and just try and throw it long at us. We shouldn’t underestimate their strikers, as I watched a magnificent (if not unorthodox) finish from one of their lads last week against Portsmouth. It will only take one moment like that to throw a spanner in the works. We need to push on them hard like we did against Stoke to close down Ricardo Fuller, as I doubt very much they have the pace to roll us and get through, although with Silvestre at the back, anything can happen.
I havn’t seen an official team announcement on Arsenal.com, and can’t find one anywhere, so I’ll give my best prediction of what we can expect.
Key Men Watch – Arsenal:
I’d look to Emmanuel Eboue, if he is picked ahead of Sagna, Arshavin and Fabregas as the key player to keep an eye on. Fabregas goes without saying, but I think it should be the direct running, dribbling skill and acceleration of these two players that could be too much for Burnley to handle.
Key Man Watch - Burnley
Keeper Jensen could be Burnley’s saviour, if he has a good night. Jensen has had a bunch of fantastic games this season and has often seemed the difference between a point for Burnley or a loss, and has sometimes inspired the team to win with determination. Lets hope Bendtner, Nasri, Arshavin and the rest can get past him and break their spirits early.
Happy viewing to all Arsenal fans, and I hope it all goes well!
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