Arsenal take on Burnley at the Emirates today looking to arrest a losing run, after defeats to Southampton and Tottenham ruined our 22-game unbeaten run. To be fair, even without our usual defenders we should be able to cope with a Burnley side that have only won one of their last 10 games and are currently residing in the relegation zone. The Clarets last five away games has gained them just one point at Leicester, and they have scored in one of those games. On paper this should be an easy game for Arsenal.
But we also thought the same last week and we were very wrong, so Emery needs to get our defence back into shape. The boss spoke about our growing defensive crisis yesterday when he said: “We know today, the latest news, and for example Mkhitaryan is out. Koscielny is okay but he played two matches this week and tomorrow will be a lot for him. We also need to be calm with him, to take time for a lot of matches before he continues playing. Sead Kolasinac, I think for tomorrow is okay. Players are continuing to recover with Sead. I don’t remember now. Mkhitaryan is out. Mustafi is also, for tomorrow, out too.” He may have forgotten, but we also have Hector Bellerin out for two weeks and Mavropanos is still not yet training with the team.
He was then asked if Koscielny could still play, he replied: “But I trust him and we have solutions for who can play in this position. For example, I read a little criticism for our midfielders like Xhaka playing centre back, but I am very happy with him because his mentality is a very big mentality. He helped us, and he played left back too sometimes and I think he played well. This reason, for me, is that I trust in another player and tomorrow we are going to play with the first 11 and other players in the bench with our performance. I think we’re in a good position to play against Burnley. With respect, but with believing in our work, in our possibilities in other players to play, like a centre back or a midfielder. Above all, I think the mentality is a very big mentality to help us. We have the players and they are playing out of position, like Xhaka and Lichtsteiner last week at Southampton.”
So, if he gives Kos a rest, he has a possible defensive line-up of Sokratis, Lichtsteiner, Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac, which isn’t too bad if we go with a back four, but it looks like he intends to keep Granit Xhaka in the centre of defence as the extra man.
The boss has also said that Mesut Ozil will be back in the squad, but wouldn’t say if he would be a starter. Emery said: “Every player wants to play and be okay to help the team when we need. The frustration is the same for everybody when they didn’t play in a match. But I spoke with him and with the regularity in the season, I am telling him what we need from him and he has the commitment to help us and the quality and the characteristics to help us when the team needs his moments in the pitch in one game. Tomorrow he is in the 18 players, in the squad.”
Personally I think Ozil will start now that Mhkitarayan is injured as well, so here is my predicted line-up for this afternoon with the players that Emery has available….
Oh.. and my score prediction is 3-1 to Arsenal of course!