How Arsenal edged past Burnley- Tactical Points
By Vinay Shankar (Tactical Analyst)
Another 1-0 win to the Arsenal with the new signings settling in and showcasing their attributes in their respective roles.
Trialling a technical, attack-minded line-up with Odegaard as a deep-lying playmaker was a risky move from Arteta against a physical side like Burnley and their style of play.
Burnley line up with a wide 4-4-2 in attack but without the ball, their wingers tend to stay very narrow. A tactic that has been utilised in the past by Arteta is to let the Number 10 stay wide in the buildup to drag their midfield duo of Brownhill and Westwood out of position, allowing the likes of Saka and Pepe the freedom to drive inside.
But one crucial requirement to execute this is to move the ball quickly into the final third to get Burnley out of shape and cause problems. One of the few instances, when the tempo was increased, led to Saka’s driving run leading to the foul for the goal. Burnley staying narrow prevented any build-up from the centre-backs into Partey and thus progressing the ball forward. Xhaka dropping into left-back has allowed Arsenal to bypass the first line of the press in the past, but asking Odegaard to do the same pretty much takes away his creative qualities.
Ben White is still growing into his role in the team so it would be incredibly harsh to be critical of his performance. But there were moments in the first half when he could have stepped out with the ball and drove the team forward. The quality is certainly there, but picking the right moments to drive forward with the ball and open up the spaces for the attacking players is also important. This is a different type of leadership skill required from centre-backs in this era and White was specifically targeted for these attributes.
Decision-making while attempting counter-attacks from opposition corners still remains an incredibly frustrating aspect despite the pace of our forward line. The first couple of passes make all the difference in opening up the spaces and can be a crucial asset to our attacking play.
The number of undercooked passes and loose touches prevented a lot of the dangerous moments from becoming good chances. Sean Dyche would in all likelihood have instructed the ground staff to minimise the watering of the grass in the week leading up to the game, so it’s up to the players to make the necessary adaptation in this game and they failed to do so. This is still a very young team so these are all valuable lessons to take home along with the 3 points.
Having already touched on the need for Partey to start this game in last week’s piece, it was pretty clear to see why. The Ghanian dropped deep to support the centre-backs from crosses into the box as well as his aggression in midfield. He may not have had the desired impact with his passing because of Burnley’s formation but he certainly made an impact in other aspects of the game.