Burnley is a long established club that was one of the original founders of the football league. Mark Randall went there on loan and Legend Ian Wright even played for the Clarets after he left Celtic. They have done well in the Carling Cup so far, and their defeat of Chelsea in the last round, ranks as one of their greatest triumphs. They have named this fixture Capital Punishment III, reference being made to the beating of premiership sides Fulham and Chelsea.
This will be a hard game, and I am a little nervous about us sending a very young team to face them. Is Arsene Wenger really giving them the respect that they deserve? I expect them to abandon their style of playing football in the first half, and set about the youth with an aggression that may call for some strict refereeing. I am not suggesting that they will set out to intentionally harm our players, but I can see “The Gaffer” Owen Coyle abandoning his principles to try and intimidate and muscle the Arsenal players off the ball.
It will be a great pity if the Burnley side adopt those tactics. I think that in football terms, we have possess enough quality to beat them despite their excellent set of performances. There is one thing playing good football, there is quite another playing that level of quality whilst weighed down with the overwhelming weight of expectation that currently is taking the town by storm. This is only the quarter final, and rallying calls to make the town pride is a little over the top in my opinion. Their leading scorer Martin Paterson will combine with Robbie Blake as a potent strike force, supplied by the very quick Chris Eagles down the flanks.
Burnley come to this fixture on the back of some very impressive results. Beating the likes of QPR and Chelsea is no mean feat. They suffered defeats against Championship leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers and ex Premiership Barnsley. Owen Coyle the Burnley manager has taken them from the relegation zone to now fourth in the Championship, and they will be eager to pin their challenge for entry to the Premiership firmly to the mast. The likes of Chris Eagles, may be able to get himself a big money move with a good performance, and midfielder Joey Gudjohnssen is bound also to catch the eye as a super sub.
But my gloomy suggestion is based upon the fact that Burnley will be aware that our Young Guns dispatched a full strength Wigan team who tried to play football against them. Burnley play good football, but I believe that the lure of the semi-final will convince Owen Coyle to abandon the pretty football for the first half, and to use that awful phrase, “try to get in amongst them” A euphemism for overly aggressive tactics and high long balls into the box. Fabianski will be more than capable of matching their aerial assaults, but the choice of centre back pairing will be pivotal to our success tonight. Burnley adopt the use of the angled ball from the bye line into the danger area in front of goal well, so Silvestre will have to be focused.
The squad will contain the likes of Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Lukasz Fabianski and Niklas Bendtner. These players should be enough to enable a close victory to be achieved. But do not be surprised if we are taken to penalties to achieve this, with Fabianski then showing his undoubted qualities. Burnley have in their ranks the like of Brian “The Beast” Jensen, the Danish Keeper who made penalty saves in the Chelsea victory. Chris McCann whose midfield battle with Aaron Ramsey will be an interesting encounter, and I expect him to deal harshly with the young Welshman. Up front ex Wolves and Sheffield United striker Adi Akinbiyi will hope to come off the bench to try create problems for our back four and so win back a regular place in the side.
The squad is as follows…
Lukasz Fabianski, Vito Mannone (GK) Kieran Gibbs, Gavin Hoyte, Paul Rodgers, Emmanuel Frimpong, Rene Steer, Henri Lansbury, Francis Coquelin, Amaury Bischoff, Fran Merida,Jay Simpson, Jack Wilshere, Niklas Bendtner, Carlos Vela.
I think that Arsene Wenger will rely upon Aaron Ramsey to link with Jack Wilshere to provide the kind of possession that Carlos Vela will thrive upon. I doubt if Carlos Vela will score yet another wonder goal, but I do expect him to provide the kind of service to Niklas Bendtner, that will enable the partnership that prospered pre- season to be seen as a very real force for perhaps the FA cup for instance. So Fabianski, Gavin Hoyte, Silvestre, Paul Rodgers, Keiran Gibbs, Randall, Ramsay, Merida, Wilshere, Vela, Bendtner.
It will be a cold wet and windy night, and it will be interesting to see how our young charges stand up to the initial high paced attack of Burnley. I only hope that the Premiership referee Andre Marriner is in evidence early in the proceedings to protect our players. My prediction? Burnley 1 Arsenal 3 (aet)