Burnley Preview: Youth Gives Way to New Boys

The opening home game of the season is always a special occasion. The campaign is really underway when the Arsenal lay in front of their own fans.

Today sees an attempt to inject atmosphere into the stadium:

Hope it goes better for you than the parachutist who ended up in the North Bank building site.

It is a big day for Unai Emery. We get a better idea of who his core players will be. Most were on the pitch last weekend at some point but Alexandre Lacazette, for example, wasn’t.

While we set out with a 4-2-3-1 formation last week, it’s a home game; we’ll need to be more adventurous in our play. It takes a subtle change in personnel to achieve that end and Granit Xhaka’s absence helps. That’s if he hasn’t recovered from his back problem.

The upcoming matches against Liverpool and Tottenham influence team selection, surely? It’s too much to expect full debuts at Anfield or in the North London Derby. Too many of the new signings are in key positions to be left to tat level of chance.

Which is tough on this such as Chambers, Nelson and Willock who will drop to the bench. David Luiz and Nicholas Pepe are almost certain to start. Dani Ceballos faces competition from Mesut Özil who returned to training this week.

Unai’s caution with player fitness suggests the German won’t start. His absence from the club derailed the final phase of his preseason training and it seems most contrary to put him in from the start.

But needs must. The answer to that little problem comes with Ceballos’ own fitness. I was surprised he didn’t start at St James Park but a home game is in many respects an easier introduction to the English game.

Talking Balls

Alongside Ceballos (or Özil) in a midfield trio, I’d like to see Torreira and Guendouzi. The former takes the defensive duties, the latter the harrying.

It’s a complicated choice although the decision is masked by fitness. There are so many factors at play in this aspect of the team selection.

Not least of which is Granit Xhaka. He’s been burbling on about how captaining Arsenal is an honour, seemingly oblivious to it being a poisoned chalice. Captains don’t last too long; age or greed catches up with sooner or later.

Unless, of course, this is his way of handing in a transfer request but keeping all his loyalty bonuses intact.

On the playing side, I’ve been clear that I think we have better options and combinations. I don’t, however, agree that he and David Luiz cannot play in the same side. Emery will prove that wrong in coming weeks, if not today.

Xhaka is a ‘caught in between’ midfielder. Arsène and Unai want him to be a defensive midfielder which he quite clearly isn’t. Yet we don’t play a system which suits his relatively static style.

He’s caught in between a rock and a hard place. A style which doesn’t suit him in a role to which he is ill-suited.

Nonetheless, Wenger and now Emery like him so in the XI he stays. For the moment: Unai is no stranger to using players for expediencies sake.

All of which leaves us with the forward line. A potentially prolific one at that. Close to 70 goals between them last season; no wonder Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang salivated at the prospect of playing with Pepe and Lacazette.

A fluid, interchangeable trio, taking spaces left by the runs of others? It’s definitely the most potent I can think of in my Arsenal lifetime.

Pace, Power, Proligacy

Hopefully not the latter. Or not the latter to the extent that we are left ruing missed chances.

Notionally, you’d expect Pepe and Aubameyang to occupy the wider roles. The latter worked OK in preseason for Auba so no reason why it shouldn’t now we’re playing proper matches.

There are so many potentially potent combinations for the three to play, it is almost dizzying. Unai may have a cunning plan to bring out the best in them. I’m hoping it isn’t the Baldrick moment most of us would have when it comes to fitting them into the side!

But fit them in he must. We’re facing Burnley; in the real and electronic stands we’ve banked the three points and are preparing for the sterner tests ahead. If you’re going to give out a sprinkling of debuts, this is the game to do it in.

Which leaves the team:

Leno; Maitland-Niles, Luiz, Sokratis, Monreal; Torreira, Guendouzi, Ceballos; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang

Özil, Willock and Nelson are the subs between the 60th and 85th minutes, injuries excepted.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

‘til Tomorrow

55 thoughts on “Burnley Preview: Youth Gives Way to New Boys

  1. Michael says:

    Can’t fault your selection, I think Luiz is a certainty to start which is tough on Chambers.
    Looking forward to the match and hope the attendees can get some atmosphere together
    3-1 my prediction

  2. Bojangles says:

    Yep, your selection mirrors mine. I’m sure we’ll win and see Burnley getting on the score sheet too. Going for 2-1or 3-1.

  3. Dukey says:

    I’m all for drumming up a better atmosphere. We’re by FAR the greatest team…..the world has ever seen…..should be interesting to hear that much revered ditty accompanied by the sound of a drum.

  4. Ade says:

    “Hope it goes better for you than the parachutist who ended up in the North Bank building site.”

    What’s the point of this comment?

  5. JonJon says:

    keeping faith with the yutes

    come on you reds

  6. Ferkov says:

    Glad to see Willock and Nelson start again. Good graft and threat. Pepe gets the same treatment auba had last year.
    Spare him the early full blooded tackles

  7. Noon Gunner says:


    And he wriggles out of multiple trouble just brilliantly, too! Not a diver, by the looks, too.

  8. C says:

    Ceballos is a fucking joy to watch, is the perfect Santi replacement but with more of an edge and defensive side to him.

  9. G4E says:

    Still making unnecessary mistakes at the back and inviting pressure.

  10. Noon Gunner says:

    Barring Nacho’s being offside, that was a gorgeous move down the left, with Ceballos once again in its engine room. And Nelson’s finish would have been a peach.

  11. C says:

    Ceballos and Pepe, the talent is there for all to see.

  12. Las says:

    It is fustrating when we not able coming out from back. But when we do it’s good to see buling up some pressure. This 1-1 is disappointing though. Still time

  13. Woolwich Freddie says:

    One is a central midfielder who tracks all the way back.
    The other is a central defender who sometimes pops up on the wing.
    Both have the same remarkable barnet.
    Will David sell a few stepovers?
    Will Guendo score an og?
    Will fans ever tell them apart?
    Find out this summer when you see Sideshow Bobs (90mins, dir. Emery).

  14. C says:

    Ceballos wins it and Aubameyang buries it!!!!!!

    Ceballos to this point is by far my MOTM

  15. Noon Gunner says:

    Yess!!! Auba thanks to a sharp ball recovery from Ceballos. We’re starting to see glimpses of the good stuff from some talented players.

  16. Woolwich Freddie says:

    And that’s the value of winning the ball high up the pitch. Really glad we have a few players who can do that now. We certainly have the finishers if you can give them those.

  17. Woolwich Freddie says:

    For all the talk of supporters making more noise to inspire the players, Ceballos has demonstrated an excellent understanding of how players can get the fans on their side from say one. Yes tricks. But also tenacity.

  18. C says:

    That turn by Pepe left Mee wondering who or what just blew by him

  19. C says:

    Ceballos MOTM and it’s not even close to my mind.

  20. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Ceballos- start saving up now.
    Need to have a fat wad ready to tempt Real when they, inevitably, need 150 mill to buy someone ridiculous in the Summer.

  21. Noon Gunner says:


    Afreed, C. He plays like he’s been a Gooner all his life. Incredible passion, drive and guile under pressure.

  22. Noon Gunner says:

    Brilliant cut-back by Willock and Torreira getting back into his swing!

  23. C says:

    Noon Gunner,

    Absolutely mate and for as brilliant as he is on the ball, he is a fighter through and through.

  24. Woolwich Freddie says:


    If it funded Erickson, it would be doubly sweet.

  25. C says:

    Won opening 2 matches for the first time in10 years

  26. Woolwich Freddie says:

    We obviously still have our issues but it really does feel like we’re getting somewhere. We need to keep building but I definitely feel positive.

  27. Michael says:

    Good result, was pleased with Luiz and Ceballos is a class act.
    Bill you will have 2 heads of hair to keep an eye on.

  28. TH14 says:

    Noon Gunner,
    Afternoon all

    I have never seen a more complete player since the days of Cesc Fabregas and Santi Cazorla.
    Dribbling, tackling, shooting, an eye for a killer pass, composure in midfield, confidence under pressure, Ceballos has got it all.
    To crown it all, look at the passion by which he celebrated Aubameyangs goal, if we can manage to buy him outrightly he has the makings of a legend.
    I know It’s still early, but I will be watching the Arsenal with more optism knowing Ceballos is on the pitch.
    6 points from two games and we match to Anfield.

  29. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Good three points against New Stoke.

    I enjoyed Ceballos of course & the efforts of the younger players generally but most importantly for me were the early season goals for our front two. One for Pepe would have been nice.

  30. C says:

    Good stuff and sure there was a defensive lapse and I wonder if that is just players getting used to playing with each cause it looked like Luiz thought Guendouzi was covering for him.

    So many positives to take outside of Aubameyang and Lacazette continuing to do what they do. Ceballos was absolutely brilliant and looked one of the best players on the pitch. Pepe looked a player who makes everything just look effortless despite being so quick, with so much pace and skill. Luiz is going to be good for us not just for the defensive stuff and barking orders but his range of passing gives us a dimension we have lacked and will spring Lacazette/Aubameyang and Pepe time and time again.

  31. C says:


    That is something I enjoyed watching too, Ceballos’ passion when he set up Aubameyang was brilliant to watch!

  32. C says:

    Good day, Arsenal 3 points and Spuds lose at the end.

  33. C says:

    VAR cocks it up again taking the goal away because of a handball that nobody knew nothing about.

    VAR and the new rules is nothing short of bullshit.

  34. C says:

    Spuds player tackle Citeh players 2x in the box and no VAR intervention when they are supposed to call it then produce that….in no sense am I a Citeh supporter but VAR really did one during this match.

  35. SV says:

    VAR is ruining the game. I knew it would be.

    Switching to watching the championship and lower leagues, anyone?

  36. SV says:

    Before it’s too late, the fans should organize a campaign to immediately abolish VAR.

  37. Bill says:

    Great news to see us win the first 2 games of the season and the most important thing is we have only conceded 1 goal in 180 minutes. Its way to early to get overly excited but I really like our chances to top 4 if we can cut our goals conceded to below 40 and so far a good start.

    Ceballos looked good and hopefully he can continue to impress. We have certainly seen plenty of players look like world beaters for the first couple months of the season only to hit a plateau much lower then we had hoped so its a bit soon to suggest that he will be a consistent difference maker but early returns are good. In 2 games Ceballos already has 2/3 of Ozil’s assist total for the entire 18/19 season. Hopefully the club and Mesut will agree the best scenario for both Mesut and the club is if he moves to MLS so any team not named Arsenal.

    No matter how good the rest of the squad looks we are still dependent on Aubu and Laca. All the brilliant midfield passing comes to nothing unless someone turns the passes into a goal scored. Hopefully Pepe will start to score and take some of the pressure off of our 2 forwards.

  38. Spike says:

    What a whiney wanky piss poor loser Dyche is. Not content with laying it in with a trowel pre match about how hard some by his honest bunch of gritters have been in the past, he still HG as the temerity to winge after losing fair n square!

    But our ts fine because the narrative gas been set in stone…

    Arsenal are weak flaky cheats with a dodgy defence.

  39. Ade says:


    I thought it was! 🙂
    But then I’d been positively moved by the Ashburton flyer’s plan to improve the Emirates atmosphere that the joke just didn’t sit right.

    Anyway, I’ll wait till I actually get to visit to contribute my part to the atmosphere.
    And hey, We won! Cheers!

  40. C says:

    Leno played his part to with that reflex save but also his distribution.

  41. Spike says:

    I’m chuffed Emery stuck with Nelson and Whitlock. It was hard on Chambers though who I think can be an excellent defender not least because he is an intelligent player.

    We can take a lot from these two games, especially given we are playing almost a second choice back four.

    Oh and Xhaja not playing is a huge plus.

  42. freddo says:

    Excellent win. Burnley played to their Strengths and were seriously good. Energetic, well organised, tough. They will crunch a lot of teams this season. Arsenal won’t come up against many better presses. It took a lot to beat them and Arsenal had enough.
    I was amazed at the determination of the team to play out from the back. The players almost never tried to bail out. Dangerous, of course, but it forces the team to be cohesive and stops it getting static.
    This team is going to do a lot of damage this season.

  43. C says:


    Mate, Ceballos is an excellent player. You always talk about Madrid and top club player, this lad is simply brilliant. Doesn’t mind doing the dirty work and never goes hiding. There is a reason Madrid didn’t want to make it mandatory that Arsenal buy. Zidane loves the midfield 3 of Modric/Casmero/Kroos but again, Zidane didn’t want to sell him. He will be brilliant for us and our midfield whether its next to Torriera or as a #10.

  44. Bill says:


    You may be right about Ceballos but its still a bit early to make a definitive call that he is going to be a consistent difference maker. The number of players you have told me would be “excellent” over the years has probably reached 4 digits

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