If Arsenal can recapture the spirit, desire, and intensity of last week’s north London derby victory, securing three points at Burnley should prove no problem at all.
In fact, if the Gunners played as they did against Spurs every week, they would secure Champions League football at a canter and may even run Manchester City close this season for the league title.
In reality, the team will probably see a visit to Turf Moor as something of a comedown from the highs of last week, and they will find rekindling the tenacity and desire of last Saturday a struggle. They shouldn’t, but they probably will.
That doesn’t mean, however, we shouldn’t go into this game looking for anything less than three points. In order for the derby victory to be anything other than a flash in the pan, success is a must, and the onus is on the players to show that they are capable of producing at a consistent level, on a consistent basis.
It is something that a number of the first team squad have come out and talked about post-derby so there really is no excuse for their performance level to drop, given how acutely aware they appear to be of their own shortcomings.
Barring injury or absence, I expect the same XI that triumphed at the Emirates to take to the field again on Sunday. At its best, it is a team stuffed with attacking flair and creativity, and should be too good for the likes of Sean Dyche’s men.
The team fielded in Cologne in midweek featured none of the starting line up from the Tottenham game and that fills me with confidence that Wenger will stick with the same team that lifted the gloom around the club with a quite brilliant victory last Saturday.
There is no good reason why there should be any change.
Inevitably, the hosts will attempt to make the game a physical battle and I am sure that will have been made clear to the team throughout this week, if the players didn’t realise as much already.
Burnley’s strength lies in their discipline and organisation in defence, and their opportunism in attack, and they will revel in making life as uncomfortable as possible for us. It is a tried and trusted formula for the less-technical teams that populate the leagues middle and lower reaches. It should hold no surprises.
But if Arsenal press the ball with the same alacrity and move it with the same pace and incisiveness that they did last week, they should cut Burnley to ribbons. There is no way Arsenal should be bettered from a footballing point of view against a team of Burnley’s calibre.
They only way they will be beaten is if they regress into playing the ponderous, tepid, predictable sort of football that often sees them comfortably managed and bullied out of a game, their attacking threat nullified.
Deep down, I want to believe that won’t happen but, as midweek in Cologne showed, an Arsenal team lacking in motivation is capable of throwing victory away just as easily as a team brimming with motivation can secure it with ease.
As ever, the proof of Arsenal’s pudding will be in its eating.