So this is what it feels like to be playing once a week. It seems like an eternity since we last hit four past Swansea last weekend, maybe that’s just me. It does make me wonder what life would be like without the wears and tear's of Champions League football, but of course it’s a vicious circle isn’t it? Chelsea and Liverpool have been praised for their league campaigns and I don’t think it is any coincidence that both clubs have been able to focus on domestic issues but can you imagine the criticism levelled at us if we had failed to make the European places? Yeah, it would be unbearable.
I love the Champions League as much as the next man but I’d love to see how we’d fair if the boot was on our foot, or something. That being said, going all the way in both would be a nice bonus wouldn't it? Not as easy as that though.
So we face Burnley this afternoon in a game we need to win, I suppose it’s kinda pointless saying that really, ideally we need to win every game we face given the competitiveness at the top of the table this season, but we have two ‘winnable’ games before we go to Stamford Bridge in early February for what looks like a crunch match for us.
We have some returning folk coming back into our squad. Hector Bellerin, Francis Coquelin, Kieran Gibbs and Oliver Giroud are ready for selection if the boss requires.
It gives Arsene a few decisions to make before kick off. We expect Burnley to come and sit back and attempt to stop us from playing/scoring so if sharp and fully fit, I’d like to see Kieran Gibbs come back into the team for this game, I would imagine that both of our full backs will be pretty advanced which will allow Alexis to play much closer to Giroud assuming he starts.
Will Arsene want to give Coquelin game time before the Chelsea game? Probably but maybe not at the expense of Ramsey and Xhaka just yet. The duo looked impressive in the second half at Swansea after what was a slow start but they came good as did our team in our *ahem* 4-0 victory away against the Swans.
Predicted Line Up:
But during the game I expect it look a little more like this.
I was looking back at the 1-0 victory at Burnley earlier on in the season and we were actually a lot better than I thought we were at the time. We didn’t take our chances and half chances which made the game a lot tighter than it actually was.
It took a rather lucky goal from us at the end but it really was what we deserved. Burnley’s home record has been pretty ridiculous this season so a big thumbs up should go our way for the three points we did get in the north earlier in the season.
Burnley’s away record has been shocking though. What is up with that? I find it strange how the difference can be so vast. When you break it right down, 22 players are playing on a pitch that is pretty much exactly the same size, the pitch conditions have to be of the highest order at this level yet the difference between their home and away records are the polar opposites.
I guess it tells you two things, getting behind your team is hugely important and psychology plays a massive part in football.
I was somewhat annoyed that Manchester United managed to snatch a last gasp equaliser but at least they did not win the game. The draw between Manchester City and Tottenham in the late match is a result that suits us down to the ground. It means that an Arsenal victory today will mean that 'out of the race' Arsenal will jump into 2nd place, above 'title fighting' Tottenham and Liverpool. Interesting how these things work eh?
Yesterday’s results mean very little unless we do our part and I don’t know why but Burnley’s poor away form scares me for some reason. Everyone expects a routine victory, especially given their poor away form but it is just like us to come up against the team who all of a sudden turn into away result champions. Whatever that is.
I have a feeling it is going to be a lot of hard work to break them down, hopefully we can find a breakthrough early enough to force them out a little. We must learn from what Liverpool failed to do and that is defend properly when we do not have the ball. Burnley will be looking at set pieces and free kicks to test us and we will have to stand up to that which is another reason why I expect Giroud to continue in the team. I also hope to see us start much quicker than we have in recent weeks. If we can get an early goal then we will force Burnley to open up a little and we can take advantage of that.