Scouting Report: Arsenal v Burnley

We are back in Premier League action on Sunday against Burnley, and ahead of the game Michael Cox examines our opponents in detail.



Burnley are the biggest overachievers in this season’s Premier League, starting the weekend in the top half of the table. Sean Dyche deserves great credit, drilling his players in a solid defensive shape on the training ground and increasingly adding a counter-attacking threat too. 


In the first half of the campaign, Dyche switched between playing a 4-5-1 system and a 4-4-2, and depended upon two completely different forwards. Sam Vokes is an old-fashioned battering ram who battles in the air and holds up the ball, whereas Andre Gray is a lightning-fast, tricky forward who sprints into the channels. They formed a fine partnership. 
In recent weeks, however, Dyche has moved towards a different type of approach within that 4-4-2 shape, by playing Gray alongside Ashley Barnes, another quick, mobile centre-forward. It’s not entirely dissimilar from the manner Leicester played in last season: a deep, narrow defence, little ball possession and two speedy forwards to play on the counter-attack. Many sides play 4-5-1 away at the Emirates, but Dyche used two strikers in the narrow 2-1 defeat at Manchester City recently, and will probably do the same here.


Burnley sit extremely deep, usually in two banks of four, and their organisation is absolutely tremendous, stifling opposition passing moves through the centre, showing them wide, and defending crosses excellently with the reliable centre-back partnership of Michael Keane and Ben Mee. They are tough to break down.


Can you regard the opposition goalkeeper as a danger man? He’s certainly the player most likely to frustrate Arsenal. Burnley may have allowed the opposition the highest number of shots in the league this season, but goalkeeper Tom Heaton has been one of the most reliable shotstoppers in the league.


Burnley have a tendency of sitting too deep and allowing shots from long-range. Dyche is happy to keep the opposition at arm’s length, but Arsenal have various players who can strike from 25 yards out.

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