Burnley Preview: Don’t Mention The ‘Ö’ Word…

His response said it all. Unai Emery told the media “the player’s salary is not important” when asked about Mesut Özil’s place in the team. “Every player is the same,” was a philosophy which didn’t work in Paris where ego ruled the roost. That is not going to happen at Arsenal; the Spaniard is determined that it’s his way or the highway; players can like it or lump it.

The German is in today’s squad. Emery pointed to his philosophy which limits Özil’s use in his own tactical system:

Sometimes we play with one striker only. If we didn’t play well, it demands of us to play with two strikers. When you play with two strikers then it is more difficult to play with a No 10.

It depends on how you line up and you need players with quality, with intensity, players who are faster, players who are calm with the ball. You need players defensively and offensively.

Injury is forcing Emery’s hand today. While “we need different opinions tactically for one match, but we need the ball,” Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s absence creates Özil’s opportunity. The Armenian isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but he fits Emery’s work ethic far better than the German.

The inherent contradiction of Özil’s absence at Bournemouth because he couldn’t cope with their “intensity and physicality” when facing a stereotypically English side isn’t lost on anyone. Burnley are more nuanced in their approach than just lumping the ball forward but rely heavily on teamwork and hard work; “Physicality and intensity” are key elements.

Özil’s guile will come in useful, however. Burnley’s obduracy last weekend showed it’s going to be a long afternoon. After the Southampton defeat, it must be a winning one. This season’s top four ambitions don’t hang on it but will shape it nonetheless.

The Sort Of Headache Aspirin Can’t Cure

Far more of a headache for Emery is the defence: Bellerin and Mustafi are both out. While Lichtsteiner is the obvious replacement for the former, we don’t have another centre-back. Sead Kolasinac is also likely to miss out so Nacho Monreal is needed on the left unless Maitland-Niles features.

An altogether unsatisfactory situation for the coach to deal with, it surely rules out a back three? After last weekend’s debacle, there is no evidence to support a makeshift trio at the heart of the defence.

Particularly when Laurent Koscielny’s ring-rustiness is clearly evident. Only match minutes resolve that issue but the Premier League is an unforgiving arena in which to recover fitness.

There’s a suggestion Koscielny may be rested at lunchtime. That’s just madness; we don’t have the defensive options to justify that unless Emery is promoting a youngster. Sokratis is a calming influence for the most part so it’s not unreasonable to think that may happen.

It won’t, however. Emery is “pleased” with Xhaka’s efforts for the team and willingness to cover for defensive injuries. That he was better as a wing-back against Leicester than a centre-back is undeniable. However, the Foxes were whupped by that point and Xhaka kept his head for 35 minutes against a toothless attack.

This is an altogether unsatisfactory situation for the coach to deal with. Appointed before last summer’s window opened, cover for his preferred back-three was necessary but we didn’t get that sorted.

Once it was decided that Calum Chambers was going out on loan, the internal solutions were vital at that point or we needed to sign another central defender. His departure left five at the club with one injured and Mavropanos soon joined Koscielny on the sidelines.

The recruitment in these times needs to be considerably sharper.

Get Cracking

Which brings us to the XI to play today. It’s not far off being officially announced but I’ll have a stab at it:

Leno; Koscielny, Sokratis, Xhaka; Lichtsteiner, Torreira, Guendouzi, Monreal; Iwobi, Özil; Aubameyang

We’re stretched thin in every department at a traditionally intense period of the season. Ramsey in midfield, Elneny too, with Lacazette are our experienced options; it’s a concerning situation. Our lack of depth is starkly apparent.

Bellerin and Mustafi are both short-term problems but as Kolasinac proves, short-term very quickly becomes a longer spell on the sidelines. It would be a huge boost to the squad if the winter’s activity is completed early in the window.

Those are thoughts for another day. This afternoon is the immediate concern and three points vitally important.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

77 thoughts on “Burnley Preview: Don’t Mention The ‘Ö’ Word…

  1. andy1886 says:


  2. andy1886 says:

    Torreira, Ramsey and Iwobi on the bench.

    Surprise start for Elneny. Is Xhaka at RB? Where is AMN playing?

  3. andy1886 says:

    From that group I’d have AMN at RB, Nacho as a CB and Kolasinac at LB. Which puts AMN in midfield with Elneny and Guendouzi. 4-3-1-2 with Ozil at the head of a diamond in the middle or some strange five man defence with Elneny or Xhaka as a third CB? Personally I think we need the extra body in the midfield if we’re playing two strikers and Ozil.

  4. YW says:

    Back three: Sokratis, Nacho, Xhaka. AMN RWB, SK LWB

    UE thinks this is a gimme

  5. andy1886 says:


    I’d be worried about that midfield, how much help will our WB’s be in a battle? Never quite sure if WB’s constitute a 5-man defence or 5-man midfield, or even a bit of both. Modern football eh?

  6. ferkov says:

    Not switched it on yet, so might already know. But, I’m thinking Elneny in there for his height and leap,to defend crosses. He did play solid there a couple of times last year…all relative innit.
    I like AMN on RWB, but he’s got to be coached by the Leech on the touch line …..’get back you mofo! ‘ and such as like.

  7. andy1886 says:

    Ozil as captain – will that mean he raises his game or will it be the old curse of the captain and he’s gone in the summer?

  8. C says:

    Holy shit, we almost score and then Burnley almost scores.

  9. andy1886 says:

    Looks hard to tell yet if it’s a back four or if Xhaka is dropping into a back three.

    Good chance for us early but then an opening for Burnley.

  10. andy1886 says:

    Yup, looks like a back four.

    Bould must have a fit when he sees our attempt to play them offside.

  11. andy1886 says:

    Manic start but it’s settled down a bit now. All very Arsenal so far, and then Auba scores a simple goal!

  12. C says:

    That is a SUBLIME move with a brilliant ball by Ozil for Sead with the cut back for Aubameyang and ball in the back of the net!!!!

    Ozil the creator won’t get the assist but he created that move…

  13. C says:

    When Sead gets moving he is like a runaway freight train

  14. Bill says:

    Great preview Yogi

    Strange line up but a good start to the game. We really need to win.

    Guendouzi and Elneny are both on the best hair team. If they could play as good as they looked the team would be all world

  15. Noon Gunner says:

    Isn’t it great to discover that last eason’s Kolasinac was an aberration and he has serious qualities when fit and playing in the right position? That back chase and barge tackle was a crowd lifter!

  16. C says:

    So Burnley chose Sokaritis and Sead to go over…..not for nothing but of our current XI, those may be the last 2 I would chose.

  17. C says:

    Nacho coming off and Lichtsteiner coming on.

    Nacho straight down the tunnel and now we go to a back 3.

  18. andy1886 says:

    Nacho off, looks like another injury. Litch on.

  19. Noon Gunner says:

    Wood – Westwood – Barnes – Barnsley … no wonder they’re lumbering around. Cork as a finish.

    Oh no – not another defender injured, Nacho off – hand hurt??

  20. C says:

    Mustafi needs to come back asap.

    I want to see Medley next match

  21. Noon Gunner says:


    Agreed – not much to lose until the seniors return, and he’d shown well when brought on.

    All we need now is for Sokratis to get a 2nd yellow…

  22. Bill says:

    Kolasinac is good as a wing back when we play 3 at the back. He struggles on the defensive side of the game when he plays fullback in a back 4

  23. C says:

    For the first time, we have a lead at half-time

  24. C says:

    Noon Gunner,

    No offense to Brighton, but I would rather have fully fit CB’s for Liverpool and rest them for Brighton.

  25. C says:

    That id a SUPERB counter! Sead when fit is a monster of an athlete and Lacazette to Aubameyang who puts his laces through it!

  26. C says:

    Aubameyang now top with 12 goals!

    Lacazette might not always score but he is massive for us in that all-around CF style.

  27. C says:

    Holy shit, that was a GIANT cluster fuck that was saved by Sokaritis.

  28. consolsbob says:

    This referee is a clown.

    No wonder players cheat.

  29. C says:

    Torriera on for Elneny.

    Elneny has done his bit.

  30. Noon Gunner says:

    Guendouzi has to learn some self-calming techniques. His passion is a big part of what he brings, but that dive was poor and then we’ve several times seen him over-compensate for a mistake by chasing the ball and committing an unnecessary foul. But he;s young, he’s amazing and he’s ours!

  31. C says:

    With all the yellows shown….none for Xhaka

  32. C says:

    That is SHOCKING defending by our defenders. I mean just fucking clear the ball, 4 players had the chance and NONE took responsibility for it

  33. Noon Gunner says:


    And AMN stuffed up marking his man as the cross floated in. Sigh…

  34. C says:

    Sead doing it again and just a little behind Lacazette.

  35. Bill says:


    It seems like Emery is not a fan of starting 2 strikers but I think managers and football people overthink tactics. I believe we are a better team with PEA and Lacazette are on the pitch.

  36. C says:


    Ofcourse we are. Wonder how much Welbeck’s injury played in us seeing less of them 2 starting every match.

  37. C says:

    This really a strange game. We feel strangely in control

  38. C says:

    Iwobi coming on for Lacazette. Not getting a goal aside, he has been really good and picked up another assist.

  39. Noon Gunner says:


    I was just going to say Burnley have us rattled. Torreira has made a string of errors since coming on. Not on top form – may be his illness. And I notice we’ve lost most of the aerial duels. Sorry to see Laca leaving. He’s such an imaginative worker and link man

  40. andy1886 says:

    Laca not happy when he came off.

    Funny performance really. Would be happy to get the three points and move on.

  41. Bill says:


    Welbeck injury does not change the fact that no matter how you slice it we increase the risk of dropping points when we start iwobe instead of Lacazette.

  42. Noon Gunner says:

    We definitely have a draw in us here…

  43. C says:


    It does change things because with Welbeck it allowed Lacazette and Aubameyang to rest in the FA Cup, CC and Europa but now they have to play most of thise matches.

  44. C says:

    For such a big unit, Sead gets up and down the flank, when fit, for a full 90.

  45. andy1886 says:

    Looked offside but Iwobi 3-1

  46. C says:

    Ozil with another moment and that was definitely a reverse pass and sure it got deflected…Iwobi bangs it in!

  47. Noon Gunner says:

    No – I think we’ve dodged the ‘draw’ bullet! 🙂

  48. YW says:


    This and Brighton are just about the results, I think. Looneypool is performance and result.

  49. C says:


    Think thats why Lacazette was subbed. Sure Aubameyang is scoring but I think Lacazette is the key because even though he is shorter, he wins alot of duels and his link play and first touch are brilliant plus he works his socks off.

  50. Arsetralian says:

    Well I was getting a bit nervous there
    We seem to invite those ugly goals
    At this time of the season take the 3 points
    Great finishing from PEA
    Once we get the defence and midfield back from injury we’ll be more secure
    Ozil with lac and pea in front the way forward

  51. andy1886 says:


    Yup, if the performance isn’t good enough we wont get away with it against Klopp’s side.

  52. kenyangunner says:

    Tough win. But defensive weaknesses worrying. Agree with Andy1886 that against ‘pool it may be worse!

  53. C says:


    That’s the thing though, this season we have actually put in performances against the bigger sides. Unlike in the past, we have players like Aubameyang, Lacazette, Torriera and even Sokaritis and Mustafi who have raised their games against the big sides.

    Bellerin being or not being fit will play a big role. Maitland-Niles has done well, but so far, an arguement could certainly be made for Bellerin as Player of Season.

  54. Dalm says:

    Dyche moaning about our players (diving) and poor reffing BUT I think his lot were too physical and a better ref display sees them down a few players…..Barnes had Sokratis in a headlock….
    Interesting to see how they have struggled after last season
    3 points is 3 points

  55. ferkov says:

    I think today demonstrated what sort of work Elneny gets through. He was everywhere. Nothing fancy, hardly ever. Best hustler we’ve got, well, when Terrier isn’t 100% anyway. Lost the middle with that change today. That’s why Lacazette got hooked for Iwobi imo.
    All in all great shifts all over the park today. A for effort and 3 points.
    Sean Dick . Ha . A prize Dick.

  56. consolsbob says:

    Diche should concern himself with his own team who are clearly psyched up to go and rough sides up. Would have workedon our recent teams but this Arsenal are made of sterner stuff.

    Barnes is a nasty piece of work.

  57. ferkov says:


    Barnes interpretation of his performance was near psychopathic
    They are the new Stoke. Normalise violence and then attack the victims for whatever they do to combat it.

  58. C says:


    Spot on and what I found funny was that Barnes thought he could simply muscle Sokaritis and he wasn’t having any of it. The other player who enjoys getting in the middle is Sead and when he does, you quite often see the opposition back down rather quickly.

    Cork was having a go at Ozil and another player and Sead came over like the Hulk and Cork immediately stepped down.

    Emery seems to have also harnessed Xhaka’s aggression, he allows him to be physical and aggressive but its helping not hurting us.

  59. C says:


    Tend to agree about Elneny. Its something I have always said I liked about him, he just does his job of hustling and hurrying players and it will never be considered ‘special’ or quality but he is consistent and helps maintain possession. When he can do that and have others around him to do the rest he helps us so much. The sort of squad player that you need because you know what you will get from him from start to finish.

  60. C says:

    Chelsea losing puts us only in 5th on goal differential.

  61. Blue Yonder says:


    “Burnley the new Stoke” – exactly! And a Brit manager to drive it as part of the equation.

  62. Blue Yonder says:

    Welcome return to winning ways and against a side that would have given us fits under Wenger. Well done.
    Ozil’s performance changes nothing as regards his future. It just underscores what we already know and find so frustrating.
    Equally frustrating are the injuries, however I’ll bet the brains trust have been planning an astute move or two for next month.

  63. consolsbob says:

    Bloody commentators werting themselves over the manu performance, including Keown.

    I can’t stand Maureen but these players are disgusting.

  64. consolsbob says:

    ‘Wetting themselves. I swear that iPad gets worse with every update.

  65. MikeSA says:

    So we put one of the best creative attacking mids in the world on the pitch and suddenly we have opportunities and goals.

    Suddenly we don’t look so toothless.

    What a surprise.

    Who’d have thought that could work?

  66. nicky says:

    Blue Yonder:
    Welcome return to winning ways and against a side that would have given us fits under Wenger. Well done.
    Ozil’s performance changes nothing as regards his future. It just underscores what we already know and find so frustrating.
    Equally frustrating are the injuries, however I’ll bet the brains trust have been planning an astute move or two for next month.

    Yes, UE simply must use the January Window for some judicious buying. 😉

Comments are closed.

Scroll Up
%d bloggers like this: