The usual five talking points ahead of Arsenal’s Premier League game at home to Burnley
Youth versus new signings?
So if Unai Emery is planning to start either of Dani Ceballos or Nicholas Pepe at Anfield next weekend, you’d imagine he would pick them to begin the match against Burnley. It’s a less stringent test than an away game against the same opposition, that’s for sure. And if he does, who gives way? One of the two youngsters (Willock and Nelson) that started against Newcastle? Mkhitaryan? There are questions over the fitness of Granit Xhaka, or maybe Guendouzi will step down. Remember that Ceballos is regarded as a box to box player, so could play deeper than the number 10 role most believe he has been bought for. And we of course cannot forget…
The Ozil Factor
Unai Emery has stated that both Ozil and Kolasinac are ready to play after the security concerns that kept them out of the Newcastle game. I can see Kolasinac getting a run-out at left back, and Ozil could be accommodated either as one of the wide attackers behind the striker. Whether or not he starts this game will tell us a lot about Emery’s intentions for his number 10. If the desire is to sell, he’s unlikely to risk the player. And don’t rule out a last minute illness – The Guardian has already expressed doubts over Ozil’s participation for this very reason.
David Luiz to get his debut?
You don’t have to be a sage to realise Unai Emery doesn't really fancy Callum Chambers and you get the feeling he played last week alongside Sokratis because if was a case of Hobson’s Choice for the head coach. David Luiz wasn’t match fit and Shkodran Mustafi… has had plenty of chances. So you’d imagine Luiz will make his debut in an Arsenal shirt.
A brace for Auba?
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has played against Burnley three times since joining Arsenal, each time scoring two goals. Now if he’d scored a hat-trick on either of the previous two occasions, he’d have ended up sole possessor of the Premier League Golden Boot last May. Still, we’d settle for another two today.
History is on Arsenal’s side
It’s not only Auba who enjoys playing against Burnley. Arsenal have won their last 10 matches against them in all competitions. Home and away. That’s right, no draws, let alone defeats. It’s the kind of run that will have to stop sometime, but surely that will happen at Turf Moor rather than the Emirates. Arsenal certainly need maximum points so they can go into the difficult fixtures against Liverpool and Spurs with something in the bank.
It’s not only a should win game for Unai Emery, it’s a must win. To compete for a top four place, Arsenal need to take the points where they are expected to and Burnley, both home and away are expected victories. It would be nice to see better football than we saw as St James’s Park last weekend, but the weather provided some mitigation. It’s forecast to be much better today. It will also be interesting to see what kind of atmosphere there is for this game in the crowd. Last weekend’s win should certainly help in that regard, and there are plans for a drum in the Block 26 section, echoing what Crystal Palace’s ultras do to stoke the atmosphere. Some will like it, some won’t, but if it helps get the atmosphere going, I don’t have an issue with it. The game is a sell-out, although surely a number of season ticket holders will be on their holidays.
New issue of The Gooner on sale today
Issue 278 of The Gooner will be on sale today on your approach to the stadium from Arsenal tube station, and also from Holloway Road if you come via Hornsey Road (seller in the middle of the road next to the Little Wonder café before you reach the roundabout). Also there will be someone selling on Hornsey Road as you walk to the stadium from The Tollington pub. The Gooner will also be bought from the Matchday Store and the picture stall opposite the North Bank steps in Drayton Park.
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