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Arsenal’s old faces surround a Burnley player at Turf Moor in February 2020

To say that Arsenal are a club and a team in transition these days is about the most definitive thing you can say about them.  That is why I chose the particular photo I chose for this piece.  It was only a couple of seasons ago when all of those faces featured prominently from week to week in the Arsenal team.  But not one of those players now remains a fixture in this Arsenal team.  True, one or two of them may still be out on loan, or still with the club in the case of a few others, but the turnover we have seen in key personnel since Mikel Arteta was appointed head coach is head-spinning, to say the least.  Realistically, of the pictured outfield players from 19 months ago, and with Lacazette having turned 30 near the end of last season, only Martinelli can still be considered a potentially important player in Arsenal’s medium- or long-term future.

But to focus on the matter at hand, Turf Moor will be the venue of this fifth fixture of Arsenal’s young season.  Considering the post-interlull period only, following our opening trifecta of defeats, Arsenal play only their second match with a reunited group of players aiming to reset their season onto a more stable course.  Having just managed to coax a magic three points out of last Saturday’s home match against rock-bottom Norwich City, Arsenal at least come into this match knowing they have won and scored a (solitary) goal in the league this season.

Arsenal XI

This Summer Arsenal spent a reported £140 in transfer fees on new signings including Ramsdale, White, Sambi, Tavares, Tomi and Odegaard, so Mikel Arteta will be tempted to give all of them minutes to figure out how they can best help improve the team.  But the way he used the new players last Saturday provides some clue going forward.  Against Norwich Arteta opted for a back four of Tierney, Gabriel, White and Tomi.  But this weekend the Gunners will likely face a much more physical battle so Arteta could shift his formation to include an extra centre-back.  If that is the case the flexible Tomi could shift over one spot to help with the high balls Burnley can be expected to launch into the area.  Another player of considerable flexibility, AMN, could move into a right wing-back spot in front of Saka, who could be alternating wings with Smith Rowe either side of playmaker Odegaard.  We should expect our Gabonese talisman to take his spot up top as the lone striker and wing-back Tierney to cover the flank and provide an array of crosses on the left.

Also in contention for a midfield berth is Sambi Lokonga, and Nicolas Pepe could be a useful attack-minded substitute if we need a late goal or two.


Tomi  White  Gabriel

AMN  Thomas  Tierney

Saka  Odegaard  Smith Rowe


The opposition

Burnley last played on Monday evening against Everton so the Gunners will try to take advantage of their two extra days rest since playing Norwich on Saturday.  The Clarets’ defence at Everton, which looked strong enough until halftime, suffered a collective second half collapse when the Toffees suddenly became an attacking juggernaut with three goals in six minutes shortly after Burnley took a 1-0 lead.  So the open question now is, Will Arsenal be able to exploit the Clarets’ defensive frailties as effectively as the Toffees were able to do?

If there’s any remaining doubt about what sort of match Arsenal can expect, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gave some indication after his club’s August game against Burnley when he observed: “If you like that sort of thing, watch wrestling.”  Somewhat worryingly, as it should be for the more reasonable folk among us, Sean Dyche responded to Klopp’s wrestling comment by pointing out that Mike Dean “didn’t book anyone. So it is quite bizarre … how [Klopp] could suggest there were some untoward challenges.”

The referees neglected to give Burnley a single red card last season, in contrast to the five (5) red cards they awarded to Arsenal.  So far this season they have already given Arsenal one red card (Xhaka at Manchester City) in four games played while they have again given Burnley the sum total of zero despite Tarkowski’s red card-worthy challenge on Richarlison last week.  Let’s hope they choose Turf Moor as the site to begin rectifying their wrongs.  Anthony Taylor will referee the match, and Lee Mason will be the all-knowing VAR official.

The Clarets are sniffing and snorting to find a path toward a better start than last season when they managed to win only one of their opening 10 Premier League games before improving thereafter to avoid relegation, and finishing in 17th position.  To this point the Clarets have made another slow start on their sixth season in the top flight with Sean Dyche at the helm.  They suffered a home defeat to Brighton and an away defeat at Liverpool before tallying their only point in a home draw with Leeds and then slipping again in the away defeat at Everton.

Burnley have managed to improve on Arsenal’s attacking frailty so far, with three goals to their credit (Tarkowski header against Brighton, Wood rebound strike against Leeds and Mee header at Everton).  But the Clarets are joint next to last in the table, and one of only four clubs, along with Leeds, Newcastle and Norwich, with a points total lower than Arsenal.  It doesn’t do much to reassure me that this game will be straightforward but Burnley have won just four of their last 23 league games, having drawn six and lost the rest.  

The ‘holic pound

Arsenal’s defenders will certainly need to keep an eye on Chris Wood, who has been involved in 12 of Burnley’s last 17 league goals, with nine goals and three assists, and is likely to score Burnley’s only goal. Did I mention that we should watch out for their set pieces? If we do a reasonable job on those Burnley is not likely to score more than the one.

Optimism must be running high in the Arsenal side, with all the new faces contributing to the cause and the chance to go on an actual winning streak, there can be no thinking about a draw or a loss.  I’m predicting Burnley 1-3 Arsenal, with a grinning Gabonese and a downbeat Dyche walking off the Turf Moor pitch at the end of this one.  

Enjoy every moment you can, ‘holics.

68 Drinks to “Roll the dice (and Dyche too, please) but watch their set pieces”

  1. 1
    scruzgooner says:

    nice write-up, bt8.

    just so long as no one gets scythed down to the bench for “three weeks”. or worse.

    play strong, boys.

  2. 2
    bt8 says:

    Bright and early I see, Scruz. I think you may even have beaten 7am.

  3. 3
    ClockEndRider says:

    I can’t remember who it was but someone christened Dyche with the sobriquet of “The Ginger Testicle”. Never has a man looked more like his nickname.

  4. 4
    Countryman100 says:

    A typically excellent and comprehensive preview bt8. We get freaked out by playing Burnley away, as we used too against Bolton and Stoke of times past. Our record at Turf Moor is actually pretty good, though the games are never easy. I’m confident we will play well and win tomorrow. I just hope all of our team are able to return to London with two functioning legs.

  5. 5
    TTG says:

    Thankyou for a comprehensive and well- constructed preview . I can’t stand Dyche’s Burnley . It was a real lowpoint when we lost at home to them through an Auba og last season . We weren’t helped by another brain fart by Xhaka which got him sent off and to complete a double of sorts he played one of the most stupid backpasses of the season to give Wood an in-off equaliser at Turf Moor in the game pictured above . To think we put some of those characters out in our first-team ! Thankfully Toblerone man won’t be able to play tomorrow.
    I’d depart from your team. I wouldn’t pay the barrel of shite that is Burnley the compliment of changing our formation for them . I’d try to control midfield but I understand Thomas might not be fit to start . I’d certainly favour Sambi in midfield over AMN but I think you have the front four spot-on . I think we will win with a bit of style 2-0

  6. 6
    Silly Second Yella says:

    Ten years ago to the day we lost to Rovers 4-3.

    Third defeat in five opening games (3rd in the end, Rovers relegated)

    Arteta scored!

  7. 7
    North Bank Ned says:

    Nice going, Bt8. A spot-on preview, as ever. I’ll take your 3-1 win in a heartbeat, though expect 2-0 to be closer to the mark. Any win with the full squad returning to North London with no casualties will do me. However, I’m with TTG that Arteta won’t change the formation given how much effort he is putting into teaching it.

    If only our summer transfer spending had been just £140…

  8. 8
    bt8 says:

    Ned, Good spot on the summer transfer figure. I’ts possible I may have missed a few zeros on that one. The Evening Standard even seems to think I missed a “2” and give the total as £142m. Not sure how many zeros are represented by the “m” though.

    As far as the formation you may be correct but didn’t he tinker a fair amount in seasons past?

  9. 9
    Doctor Faustus says:

    An immensely enjoyable and comprehensive review bt8! Thank you. I like your team, but maybe one of Saka/ESR to come from the bench and Pépé to start the match? Or

    Do the Brits still call Bordeaux red wines claret? Or claret is now any dark red wine? And wasn’t at some point of time (middle ages?) before the Bordeaux reds “claret” was used more true its etymological origin (same as “clear”) to indicate lighter color wines?

    Whatever be the color of Burnley jersey, the only liquids that brutish excuses of a football team can remind one of are the ones no one in their right minds will pay to drink. I propose we nickname Burnley not “Claret” but “Babash” … you know the dangerous overproof Trinidadian rotgut: illegal, harmful and even fatal. Just like Burnley’s football.

    Fingers crossed for no injuries. I will take a 2-0 victory, a clean sheet further bolstering our defensive confidence.

  10. 10
    North Bank Ned says:

    What is a few million between friends, bt8?

    Dr F.@9: My OED defines claret as A red wine from Bordeaux, or wine of a similar character made elsewhere but also as a deep purplish-red colour with it being an archaic synonym for blood. Your entomological knowledge is as up to scratch as we have come to expect; from the Latin clarus, ‘clear’. In late Middle English, it denoted a yellowish wine. Piss poor, perhaps.

  11. 11
    Potsticker says:

    So I said, “Stan, don’t be such a cheapskate. I’ll match you for every dollar you spend.” So he put in £70, I put in £70 and that’s how we ended up at £140.

  12. 12
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Thanks bt8.
    I’m having 1-0 and consequently rising a few spots up the table.

  13. 13
    Cynic says:

    I think we should play a back four and I would put AMN at right back and play Holding instead of Gabriel.

    Midfield needs to be able to work hard and get stuck in, whoever plays, I wouldn’t pick both Odegaard and ESR and I would put Lacazette up top, as he’s a bit more of a lump than Auba and might be in more of a mood for the physicals than Auba would. Although he might be inclined to go over at the merest touch as well…

    Difficult time ahead.

  14. 14
    bathgooner says:

    An excellent preview bt8 and I like your team and would bite your hand off for a win with a two goal margin. I fear a bloody scrap in the trenches and hope Anthony Taylor has brought his cards and his contact lenses.

    Like Dr F, I would be tempted to start Pepe as he has more experience of dealing with thuggery than either Saka or ESR. I would retain Saka for a late second-half match-winning entrance.

    I would be delighted with a win but my first prayer is for us to get out of Dodge without any wounded casualties. Thomas may be unfit you say TTG? Quelle surprise. Must be the London dampness. Tell him it’s balmy in Burnley this time of year.

    As a lover of fine claret, I am delighted to find another term to apply to the colour worn by the thugs of Turf Moor – babash will do very nicely from now on Dr F. Incidentally oenologists of my acquaintance wouldn’t dream of using the term claret for any wine from outside the appellation of Bordeaux even those attempting to reproduce the style through the blending of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

  15. 15
    Trev says:

    Great stuff, bt8,

    Fascinating photo up top too. Hard to predict what happens up at Turf Moor – it shouldn’t, but often has much to do with our level of determination and how much the referee is swayed by the ever shrieking northern hordes.

    I’d happily settle for a 1-2 win – your 1-3 may be a nice surprise.

  16. 16
    Uplympian says:

    Many thanks bt8 for a fine preview.
    I would be looking for a 4-2-3-1 selection with Timu as the preferred RB ( giving us extra height at the set pieces ). Maybe not the best match to risk Thomas – those delicate ankles of his could take an undue bashing. That really leaves AMN & Sambi as the defensive pivot and perm any 4 from the 6 candidates for AM & CF.
    Turf Moor has not been that bad a hunting ground for us – I would like to think that we can get all 3 points with the right approach. 2-0 to the good guys 🤔
    🍷 Claret can only be used for Bordeaux AOC – end of.

  17. 17
    North Bank Ned says:

    I am delighted to see the bar upholding its old-school credentials by affirming claret can come only from Bordeaux, and damn the OED.

    A glass of the finest all round. The outstanding 2009s should be ready to start drinking now.

  18. 18
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks bt8, fine preview and a good point about the changes. We should have of gone to 200quid of course and paid Xhaka’s can fare to the airport,
    I hope Thomas will play but anyway we will find out in about 5 minutes

    2-0 to The Arsenal

  19. 19
    North Bank Ned says:

    Arsenal XI: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Partey, Smith Rowe, Pepe, Odegaard, Saka, Aubameyang

    Subs: Leno, Lacazette, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Soares, Tavares, Mari, Sambi Lokonga, Martinelli

  20. 20
    North Bank Ned says:

    Partey starting along with all four of the creative quartet.

  21. 21
    Trev says:

    Well with that lineup you can’t say we’re not taking it to them.

    As long as our intent matches theirs …… 🤞🏻

  22. 22
    OsakaMatt says:

    Pépé instead of AMN – 10/11 bt8 😀
    Bold attacking selection from MA.

  23. 23
    North Bank Ned says:

    I would hope that XI is Arteta’s first-choice starting lineup, although I fear Toblerone man will find his way back into it.

  24. 24
    TTG says:

    I share Cynic’s concern about the fragility of our midfield . Hard to play just Thomas with a whole lot of creatives especially at Grimpen Mire . Remember Villareal ?
    Ok if you can totally dominate midfield but you will need a bit of Ecky Thump against Dyche’s men . Perplexed but hopeful

  25. 25
    Doctor Faustus says:

    4-3-3! Bravo Mikel!
    Neither ESR nor Ødegaard are defensive slouches so this IMHO is our best midfield.

  26. 26
    ClockEndRider says:

    More than that, Dr F, as Ned says, this is Arteta’s first XI.

  27. 27
    ClockEndRider says:

    Away fans making quite a racket…..

  28. 28
    ATG says:

    Come on Arsenal! 👏🏻 👏🏻👏🏻

  29. 29
    ATG says:

    Creation wise we are not doing a great deal, need to do more lads! Come on!

  30. 30
    scruzgooner says:

    two of their biggest bastards on yellows. sill that open up the game?

    morning, artur.

  31. 31
    scruzgooner says:


  32. 32
    scruzgooner says:

    beauty of a free kick. soap on a rope past pope.

  33. 33
    ATG says:

    Let’s hope the get one more each…

    Get in Odegard what a beauty….

    Morning Scruz 😊

  34. 34
    Gooner_KS says:

    Beautiful free kick, come on, build up on this

  35. 35
    OsakaMatt says:

    Cracker from Odegaard!!
    And defended a set piece well enough straight after

  36. 36
    scruzgooner says:

    matt i certainly was worried about their fk. how i hate barnes.

  37. 37
    scruzgooner says:

    gabriel doing yeoman’s work today. stout.

  38. 38
    OsakaMatt says:

    He is on a yellow scruz so fingers crossed….
    Tomiyasu winning a lot in the air on the right which is handy

  39. 39
    ATG says:

    Taylor giving everything to those bastards typical

  40. 40
    scruzgooner says:

    matt, i’ve been loving tomi. good blocks, great positions, i hope we’ve found our right back!

  41. 41
    bathgooner says:

    Image courtesy of Arsenal.com

  42. 42
    scruzgooner says:

    we got better as the half went on, certainly. i do hate how they play under the bearded testicle.

    our defense has been strong and positive.

  43. 43
    OsakaMatt says:

    Hope so scruz.
    Should have nicked a second just before half time but anyway 1-0 is ok

  44. 44
    Las says:

    Thanks for the excellent write up bt8,
    I didn’t know that Pepe is such fighter.
    C’mmon Arsenal

  45. 45
    Gooner_KS says:

    I was so pissed years ago when Real M snapped Odegaard when we were also trying to get him. Finally he’s home 💪

  46. 46
    scruzgooner says:

    liking ramsdale.

  47. 47
    scruzgooner says:

    esr off hurt? holding his abs.

  48. 48
    scruzgooner says:

    pepe needed more power on that pass to auba, who can handle such. we keep doing that, either too hard or too soft. we need dennis in to the academy to teach first touch.

  49. 49
    scruzgooner says:

    much better since sambi came on.

  50. 50
    scruzgooner says:

    ben white has GOT to sort that short pass out.

  51. 51
    Las says:

    Look at that VAR on our side 🙂
    C’mmon Arsenal

  52. 52
    scruzgooner says:

    amn for thomas. good game thomas.

  53. 53
    scruzgooner says:

    watch out, stoke-lite are getting tired.

  54. 54
    Gooner_KS says:

    Our final ball sucks, get in

  55. 55
    Las says:

    The everlasting last 10 minutes

  56. 56
    scruzgooner says:

    a satisfying victory.

  57. 57
    Las says:

    Well fought victory. One-nill to Arsenal.
    Just like the good ol days

  58. 58
    ClockEndRider says:

    Phew, sounded a tight game on the radio but who cares!

  59. 59
    OsakaMatt says:

    Yeah, nice three points though I couldn’t say I enjoyed the last 10 minutes.
    Ramsdale had a good game

  60. 60
    scruzgooner says:

    and though satisfying it *was* hard going. it was hard going. atg is right, neither auba nor pepe really on song today. saka quiet, and while our defense was cohesive white has some individual shit to sort out.

  61. 61
    bathgooner says:

    Hard going but a win’s a win even if it’s a scabby one. Won by Martin’s moment of magic and solid defending. Sounds like White needs to smarten up though. Another bonus was the apparent absence of serious injury.

  62. 62
    Gooner_KS says:

    Apart from the front three, the rest of the team was solid. Ramsdale was great, saved us a couple of times.

  63. 63
    bt8 says:

    Looks like we managed to eke it out but the clean sheet delights. Was attending my daughter’s game so will watch later. In other good news it looks like we’ve jumped into mid table obscurity.

  64. 64
    TTG says:

    So far my conclusion is that we have spent wisely in the summer . Very happy with Tomayisu , Odegaard and Ramsdale . Sambi is also quality . Question mark over White who needs a big lump like Dunk beside him. He had one today in Gabriel who was excellent .
    The blend is not right upfront . Final pass is not incisive enough . Watching Toney earlier that was the man we needed to acquire

  65. 65
    bathgooner says:

    TTG @64, I am 100% with you on Toney. I hope Edu is whispering sweet nothings in his ear. However if Brentford aren’t struggling for survival I can’t see him moving in January.

  66. 66
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Can we nickname Nuno “The comrade” (Tavares isn’t too far from Tovarisch)? 😉
    I think he is going to be an exciting player for us. Still very raw and decision making is a bit iffy but he has a good mix of technical qualities and physical strengths.

    ESR, Saka, Pépé, Auba not incisive enough in the final third. The weight of the passes were off and I think the field — both Mikel and White clarified that the grass wasn’t watered enough and was dry out there — may have something to do with it. Still if ESR keeps his shot on target after being set up by Pépé a more expected 2-0 would have been the result.

    Excellent by Gabriel and Ramsdale, Tomi not far behind.

    Ødegaard was very good too, playing deeper when needed, helping out in defense and always offering a passing option. I think that wonderfully taken free-kick will convince him to take more shots at goal. Both him and ESR will need to score more.

  67. 67
    North Bank Ned says:

    RIP Jimmy Greaves.

  68. 68
    Bathgooner says: