The Gunners travel to Turf Moore this weekend to face Sean Dyche’s relegation battling team. Arsenal’s north London rivals Tottenham failed to break down a stubborn Burnley side last weekend, and it could turn out to be a similar stern test for Arsene Wenger’s men, but let me list my preferred starting XI.
Gk: David Ospina
His inclusion in the squad is essential on current form, ahead of Wojciech Szczesny. Ospina hasn’t done a whole load of mistakes and has proved to be solid enough between the sticks.
RB: Hector Bellerin
The young Spaniard had another solid outing during last weekend’s victory over Liverpool, managing to get himself on the score sheet with a fine finish. He has grown immensely in that right-back role during Mathieu Debuchy’s absence, and is understandably regularly picked ahead of Calum Chambers.
CB: Laurent Koscielny
The Frenchman’s inclusion is a no brainer, as he’s proven to be the club’s superior centre-half week after week. Though his inclusion does depend on his fitness after picking up a groin injury last weekend.
CB: Gabriel Paulista
With the Frenchman facing a fitness test ahead of Saturday’s clash, Gabriel should start at the back ahead of Per Mertesacker, even if the Frenchman is passed fit to play.
The Brazilian has shown similar promising traits in his early Arsene career, showing pace, aggression and composure on the ball, in comparison to more lethargic Mertesacker who seemingly often relies on Koscielny to bail him out in the face of danger. Gabriel should be in the team ahead of the big German every week.
LB: Nacho Monreal
The Spaniard has become a very solid player for the Gunners, an unlikely hero to say the least – one of the club’s surprise packages of the season. I like Kieran Gibbs but on current from, Monreal rightly gets the nod at left-back as he’s shown to be the superior defensive minded full-back between the two.
DM: Francis Coquelin
Coquelin has shown his class and fulfilled potential since his return to the team in December. He’s produced solid performance after performance week in week out, and every Gooner would agree that he’s ousted Flamini and Arteta out of the squad, regardless of the captain’s injury lay-off.
He’s rock we’ve missed since Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva and there very few better players in the league, at what the does.
CM: Aaron Ramsey
The Welshman was played out wide last Saturday and didn’t do too badly either, but his best position of course is alongside Coquelin. He’s a player who prefers to make late runs into the box from deep, which has seen him bag 16 goals last term.
There’s a renewed confidence within the 24 year-old as well since returning from injury. Hopefully he can stay fit from now on.
AM: Santi Cazorla
The little Spaniard has been another great hit of the season and he should never be seen on the bench, unless if rested. His close control under pressure and tricky feet makes him one of the best offensive mids in the league, being able to worm out of situations effortlessly to spark a counter attack. This is probably his best position.
RW: Mesut Ozil
The German was man of the match last week, and that type of performance so many have criticized him for not displaying more often, has surely silenced his critics and boosted his confidence even more. He was also on the score sheet against Brendan Rodgers’ men with a sublime free-kick to double the team’s lead.
LW: Alexis Sanchez
Sanchez also enjoyed a great game on the day as he struck a thunderous 20th goal of the season, an outstanding record to boast in his début campaign at the Emirates, against a team he was tipped to join last summer.
He never stops running and putting the opposition under pressure – his commitment and work-rate is a terrific quality the team hugely benefits from.
CF: Olivier Giroud
The Frenchman is on top form this year with 18 goals to his name after bagging his 14th Premier League goal last weekend. He has become a top class striker and is rightly compared to the Diego Costa’s and Sergio Aguero’s of this world. At the moment, there’s no better man up front in the team than Giroud.