Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side host Burnley on Saturday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Sean Dyche is a talented young coach, but his favoured tactical approach is somewhat simple: an old-fashioned 4-4-2 based around direct play and width.
He doggedly stuck to his default blueprint throughout Burnley’s 2014/15 Premier League campaign, which ended in relegation, and the approach is far more suited to Championship football where the Clarets are challenging for automatic promotion.
"Dyche doesn’t care for possession dominance - only four Championship sides have seen less of the ball - and Burnley might be the most defensive-minded opponents Arsenal face this season."
They have improved in recent weeks thanks to Dyche making changes at full-back. On the right, former Aston Villa full-back Matthew Lowton came into the side just before Christmas in place of Tendayi Darikwa and he’s already racked up four assists in his seven starts.
On the opposite flank, Ben Mee started the season as first-choice left-back, but has moved inside to allow the more technically gifted Stephen Ward to play in that position. Burnley now move the ball down the flanks more effectively, with Mee forming a good partnership alongside the more commanding Michael Keane at the heart of the defence - they’re unbeaten this season as a defensive duo.
Joey Barton and David Jones both have plenty of Premier League experience and generally concentrate on getting the ball down and knocking it out wide, rather than moving forward in possession themselves, although both are gifted in possession. Burnley have two dangerous wingers: George Boyd usually plays on the right flank despite being extremely left-footed, while Scott Arfield is a right-footed left-winger. They often cut inside after receiving possession, which encourages the full-backs to fly forward.
Up front, Burnley have a classic strike partnership: one forward offering height, the other pace, which means Burnley can play direct football in two different ways. Sam Vokes is a classic number nine, and a target for long balls - which he usually attempts to flick towards his strike partner Andre Gray, an extremely exciting forward.
The joint-top scorer in the Championship with 15 goals this season - and boyhood Arsenal fan - Gray boasts pace, trickery and intelligence in terms of movement. Burnley are happy to look for him quickly with long balls over the top of the defence, and therefore he has a habit of being caught offside frequently.
Dyche doesn’t care for possession dominance - only four Championship sides have seen less of the ball - and Burnley might be the most defensive-minded opponents Arsenal face this season.
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