The Breakdown

The Breakdown: Burnley v Arsenal preview

We are back in Premier League action on Sunday when we travel to Turf Moor to take on Burnley.

Ahead of the game, tactical expert Michael Cox and former Gunner Adrian Clarke examine our opponents in detail.


MC: Sean Dyche is now among the Premier League’s most coveted managers thanks to his fine work with Burnley. Having taken the Clarets up from the Championship twice and taken them to comfortable survival last season with a defensive-minded system, this time around Burnley have played a more cultured brand of football and are the only ‘outsiders’ keeping pace with the Premier League’s big six.

AC: For me, Sean Dyche has been manager of the year. He won’t win it because Pep Guardiola will as they will probably break records for goals scored and total points. Sean Dyche probably should get it though for what he’s doing with a very limited budget. He’s not the best-paid manager and his players aren’t on a stack of money either. It’s not just about solid defending with Burnley this season. They’ve added potency going forward as well and they’ve improved on the ball massively. 


MC: Last season it was all 4-4-2 for Burnley, but this season Dyche has played a 4-5-1 regularly. Chris Wood or Ashley Barnes will lead the line, with the likes of Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick and Johann Gudmundsson given freedom to break forward and join the lone forward.


MC: Burnley are excellently drilled without possession, getting back into a deep and solid shape. They’re also supremely effective at denying the opposition shots from good positions, and get plenty of bodies back behind the ball to block shots too.

AC: Tarkowski and Mee have been the story of Burnley’s season. They have been sensational. You look at the stats like the headers they win, the clearances they make, the blocks, and they’re top of the charts across the board. Those two have struck up a lovely chemistry.


MC: Since joining from Swansea in the summer, Jack Cork has helped to transform Burnley’s approach in possession - whereas last season they looked for counter-attacks and long balls, now they hold the ball for longer periods thanks to Cork’s intelligent possession play.

AC: Robbie Brady, who was very much in and out of the team last year, has been given the nod on a regular basis and he’s a wonderful crosser of the ball. That’s something that Arsenal definitely need to watch out for at the weekend. 


MC: Despite playing deep, Burnley can be a little too keen to catch the opposition offside - through-balls and well-timed runs may exploit this.

AC: My viewpoint is that you beat them on the deck. It’s got to be passing on the floor with lots and lots of movement. When I think about their back four, as resilient as they are to crosses and balls chucked in the box, and as good as they are at shutting off space and blocking shots, sharp movement in and around the box is not their forte. That can be Arsenal’s strength.

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