Arsenal’s attack is right up there with Man City’s as open play kings. 70% of the Gunners expected goals (xG) come that way.
Conversely, only 25% of Burnley’s xG comes from open play. They are heavily reliant on set pieces. Sean Dyche’s men are the second worst attacking side in the league.
Arsenal’s defence at set pieces looks weird in the numbers. They’ve conceded hardly any xG from corners but are one of the worst in the league at defending free kicks slung into the box.
The issue will obviously be whether Burnley can win enough set pieces to cause Arsenal a problem. On top of this, it looks like Burnley’s dead ball man Johann Gudmundsson is unavailable through injury.
Arsenal like to get into the box to create chances even more than City do. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Aaron Ramsey lead the way here. Because of this fairly rigid attacking style, Arsenal create the best/most clear cut on-the-deck chances of any team on average. Phil Bardsley is an ‘interesting’ choice for Dyche to put up against Aubameyang.
Interestingly, Ramsey doesn’t start today. Emery may be preferring some patience, might just be rotating due to the heavy Xmas schedule or may have had an inkling of Burnley’s new set up (below). Although Burnley no longer bunker as much as they used to, Arsenal’s possession hog will see The Clarets revert to type. You’d have thought Ramsey would be ideal today, especially as Arsenal don’t threaten much aerially.
Burnley look to have forfeited wide attackers in favour of three CBs and full backs charged to push on when they can. Dyche has chosen to pick 3 narrow central midfielders and two target men up top. Again, how Bardsley copes with no-one directly in front protecting him will be a good watch. Big Phil is not known for his patience or his inability to take no prisoners if riled.
I’m interested to see Chris Wood in attack for Burnley feeding off the scraps and trying to bully Arsenal’s back line. Wood is mobile for his size and is behind on xG this season. Ashley Barnes gets the nod over Sam Vokes. This might be due to the lack of Gudmundsson as Vokes gets most of his xG from set pieces whereas Barnes has been more of an open play threat.
Difficult to see anything other than a hiding for Burnley. However, Christmas is a time for miracles, non?