3 Key Battles That Could Decide Saturday’s Clash Between Arsenal and Burnley

This Saturday, Arsenal will look to get back to winning ways as they host Burnley in the Premier League. Having had their form wobble a bit – with back to back defeats – the Gunners will be keen to get things back on track with a home victory this weekend. 

Burnley also fell to Spurs in their last game, and the Clarets will have felt hard done by having only lost that one in the last clutches of the game. Sean Dyche’s men have been fairly unconvincing this term but a big away performance could really lift spirits.

1. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang vs Joe Hart

There aren’t many more players in the league who goalkeepers would prefer to avoid, but if there is any consolation to Joe Hart, Aubameyang has not scored in his last four appearances – although somehow that make a goal feel almost inevitable.

Hart performed well against Spurs last week, and was only denied an impressive clean sheet by a last gap Christian Eriksen goal. The Englishman has enjoyed a slight return to form since his summer move to Burnley and has done well to keep Tom Heaton out of the picture so far. 

The England international will have to pull off a string of impressive saves if he wants to keep Arsenal and, more specifically Aubameyang, out this weekend.

2. Laurent Koscielny vs Ashley Barnes

Since rupturing his Achilles, Koscielny has missed France’s World Cup winning campaign and the entirety of the first half of the season. He returned to Premier League action last week against Southampton in a disappointing loss.

You suspect it’s all a little sooner than the medical staff would prefer, but with Arsenal’s defensive injuries issues at the moment there really aren’t a lot of options.

Burnley are a physical outfit and you can expect a lot of battles to be won on the day by their big front men. It could be Chris Wood or Sam Vokes, but it looks like Ashley Barnes will start this one. 

Either way, if they can win their aerial duels, just like Southampton did last week – all three of their goals were headers – Arsenal may have some difficulty handling the Burnley threat. Especially Koscielny, who will need time to get back up to the speed and physicality of the league. 

3. Lucas Torreira vs Burnley’s Midfield

You suspect that if Arsenal are going set up the usual way, they’ll dominate possession for the most part. Now of course you can’t dominate possession without having the ball and, in Lucas Torreira, Arsenal finally have a midfielder who loves nothing more than scrapping and fighting to get the ball back for his team as soon as possible.

If Burnley’s midfield can stay composed and not be overwhelmed in the middle of the park by the dogged Uruguayan’s presence, they may just have a chance of disrupting Arsenal’s game plan. But, if Arsenal are to dominate possession, Burnley’s best options may come in the counterattack. Once more they’ve have to get past Torriera if they have any luck in this department.

Lastly, that Burnley midfield, with the likes of Jack Cork and Ashley Westwood, will have to be quick to press Torreira as his technical ability – including his long distance shooting – is surprisingly impressive for a man whose best talents lie in the less glamorous areas of the game.

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