After an unexpectedly successful summer transfer window, Arsenal are looking like a club on an upward trajectory. They have already grabbed their first clean sheet of the season away from home to Newcastle, and while the overall performance was nothing special, it ultimately aides in building a new narrative for the Gunners. Unai Emery’s men now look to continue their unbeaten record over Burnley this weekend in the lead up to their upcoming fixtures against Liverpool and Tottenham. Since the Gunner’s will be at home for the first time this season, it is the perfect opportunity to introduce their new signings to the starting eleven in preparation for the matches ahead.
Unai Emery was forced to utilize a make shift Arsenal squad against Newcastle. While Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock were duly rewarded for their impressive pre-season performances, many Arsenal players were still getting up to match fitness as others were recovering from injuries.
This weekend’s match should see players like Nicolas Pepe, David Luiz, Alexandre Lacazette, and Lucas Torreira contend for a spot in the starting eleven. Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac are also reportedly available for the fixture following their terrifying security dilemmas. Each of these six players could conceivably start on Saturday and the Gunners would be better for it. The side against Newcastle struggled at times in possession and their true lethality only came on the counter-attack.
Emery will still have some difficult decisions to make for tomorrow’s match. A few youngsters made a convincing case to remain in the starting eleven against Burnley. Players like Reiss Nelson and Matteo Guendouzi in particular arguably deserve to start against Burnley. On the other hand, Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a poor performance against Newcastle and his place in the starting elven must be in question. He struggled in possession and made a few questionable passes resulting in turnovers.
Further more, Newcastle represented a club in decline last Sunday. Some club supporters opted to boycott the match as a statement towards owner, Mike Ashley. On the pitch, new signing Joelinton failed to make much of an impact up front with the chances on offer. While Newcastle’s defense proved to be a challenge for Arsenal’s attacking force, the Magpies’ offense was of little concern for Arsenal’s back line.
Burnley will prove to be a much stiffer task for Arsenal regardless of the Gunner’s home advantage. Burnley are hoping to build off of a strong display last weekend against Southampton, and Ashley Barnes as well as Johann Berg Gudmundsson will require the best of Arsenal’s defense.
Yet, with important matches on the immediate horizon, now is the time to introduce the key members back into the squad to gain some much needed match fitness. For example, Nicolas Pepe would truly benefit from starting on Saturday so he can continue to develop a rapport with his teammates, which would be crucial to breaking down Liverpool’s stout defense.
Arsenal will expect to have the lion’s share of possession tomorrow, and attacking chances will be plentiful. The thought of seeing Lacazette, Aubameyang, and Pepe start together is tantalizing. In addition, the trio would get the opportunity to work together in a truly competitive match as a build up to Liverpool. If Emery hopes to start Torreira next weekend as his presence could help gain an advantage in the middle of the pitch, then it is paramount that he gets the start against Burnley.
Arsenal have a platform to showcase their talent over the next few weeks. Victories over Burnley and Tottenham and a draw or upset win at Liverpool would go a long way in making them true contenders for a top four finish. Every point matters even though it is early in the Premier League season. Arsenal supporters only need to think back to the 2018/19 campaign. The Gunners have a lot to prove this year, and getting their new signings into the starting eleven sooner rather than later will make all the difference.