After 22 games without a defeat, Arsenal have suffered two on the bounce, and they need to get back to winning ways against Burnley on Saturday.
Unai Emery’s side have one more game before Christmas, to try and put some smiles back on Arsenal fan faces after a disappointing week. However, it won’t be an easy victory after Burnley took Tottenham Hotspur to injury time at 0-0 before the eventual winner last week.
Arsenal can expect the same type of performance they’ve had on plenty of occasions against Burnley recently, with the away side sitting back and wasting time and hoping for the final whistle as soon as the first one blows.
Let’s have a look at our predicted lineup for the fixture:
Goalkeeper and Centre-Backs
As usual, Bernd Leno should come into the team for Petr Cech, who didn’t do much to prove he’s a better fit for Unai Emery’s side against Tottenham. Emery also seems committed to playing a back-three, only briefly switching to a four for a half on Wednesday.
The head coach’s comments on leaving Laurent Koscielny out of the starting lineup on Wednesday suggested it was a decision based purely on fitness. He didn’t want to risk overplaying the Frenchman, but he’ll seemingly come straight back into the starting eleven now.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos should also be available for another start, having missed last week’s Premier League game through suspension. Similarly, Shkodran Mustafi is available after suspension, but unfortunately, it seems he’s out of the game with his injury.
Playing Granit Xhaka in defence instead of midfield isn’t working, so he shouldn’t be an option at the back either way. Nacho Monreal will have to fill the third centre-back spot instead.
Click ‘Next’ for Midfield, Wing-Backs, Forwards and Full Starting XI
Midfield and Wing-Backs
As mentioned, Granit Xhaka needs to come back into midfield, alongside Lucas Torreira as usual. No other pairing has come close to those two at either end this season.
The problem is that Unai Emery has to wait on the fitness of Sead Kolasinac. If the Bosnian defender is out of the game, Nacho Monreal might be needed on the left, in which case the Arsenal head coach wouldn’t have much choice but to get Xhaka to fill in at the back.
Hopefully, Kolasinac will pass his late fitness test and make the team, meaning Monreal at centre-back and Xhaka-Torreira in the middle. Stephan Lichtsteiner will play on the right thanks to Hector Bellerin’s injury.
Click ‘Next’ for Forwards and Full Starting XI
Mesut Özil missed out on Wednesday for ‘tactical reasons’, according to Unai Emery. Although it turned out to be the wrong decision, perhaps you could at least understand the logic behind the choice, given Spurs’ high energy pressing approach. That’s not the case against Burnley, and it would be bizarre to leave the German out again.
The same goes for Alexandre Lacazette, who went closer than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to scoring despite only playing part of one half against Tottenham. Leaving him on the bench in the first half clearly isn’t working, and he should be getting starts now.
Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan didn’t do enough in that midweek game to earn a weekend start, so perhaps Arsenal will finally use the two striker system with one in behind that worked so well in the 4-2 win over Tottenham. If so, Aubameyang will start to complete the front three.
In fact, Aubameyang will probably complete the front three even if Emery decides to go with one striker and two wide players. The three big names in Arsenal’s attack deserve a chance to show they can at least see off the smaller teams in league games.
Click ‘Next’ for Full Predicted Starting XI