Arsenal faces a tricky test as Burnley come visiting, with the Gunners looking to bounce back from their recent slump and get back into top-four contention.
After going 22-games unbeaten Arsenal have suffered consecutive defeats; first to Southampton in the Premier League and to Tottenham in the Carabao Cup quarterfinals. Unai Emery might not be too much worried from the Carabao Cup elimination but the Southampton defeat last Sunday would have had him all tensed up as they lost ground with rivals in the top four.
Arsenal still trail a top-four place by three points with Chelsea sitting above them. A win over Burnley will surely keep them in the chase for a Champions League spot. But, they need to be wary of the clarets, considering their minor injury crisis at hand. However, Arsenal have a chance to finish 2018 on a high having only lost twice at home both to Man City, and Burnley will be their final home game of the calendar year.
Burnley will come into this game with total confidence after their impressive performance against Spurs last weekend. The Clarets almost held off Tottenham at home, only for a late Christian Eriksen goal to sink their hopes. The Clarets have had an indifferent season as this time last year they were out of the top four only on goal difference, while this time they sit in the relegation zone.
The last time Burnley came to the Emirates, it was Arsene Wenger’s last ever home game in charge, and the Gunners duly thrashed the Clarets 5-0 here. Sean Dyche will be hoping this time around no such things happen, as the manager looks for results from his side to maintain the team’s top-flight status and not get into an unwanted relegation battle come the second part of the season.
Team News & Tactics
Arsenal have to take their ongoing defensive crisis into the Burley game. Shkodran Mustafi, Sead Kolasinac and Hector Bellerin are all out of the game with respective injuries. Meaning Emery will likely shuffle the backline and bring back a three-man defence comprising of Granit Xhaka, Sokratis and Laurent Koscielny. Nacho Monreal and Stephan Lichtsteiner will act as wing-backs.
In midfield, due to Xhaka’s role in defence, Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira will be preferred centrally. Aaron Ramsey could play a part in the attack after Henrikh Mkhitaryan is a doubt for the game with an ankle problem. It remains to be seen if Emery continues his use of the seemingly ineffective Alex Iwobi, whose performance in recent games have been below par.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who’s had a hand in 17 goals in 16 Premier League home games is very much likely to start up front. Alternatively, if Emery decides to drop Iwobi and bring Lacazette back to the starting lineup, then Aubameyag might be preferred to play on the left side of attack, with the Frenchman leading from the front.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3) – Leno; Sokratis, Koscielny, Xhaka; Lichtsteiner, Torreira, Guendouzi, Monreal; Ramsey, Lacazette, Aubameyang
Against Tottenham, Burnley missed the services of many players. Johan Berg Gudmundsson was one of them, and the Icelandic midfielder is in contention for a start against Arsenal. Additionally, Steven Defour is in a race against time to be fit for the game. Stephan Ward, on the other hand, has been back in training this week and could also contend for a starting spot.
However, on the injury front, Aaron Lennon is one player who is undoubtedly going to miss the game as well as the rest of the season after undergoing successful surgery on his knee which he injured against Tottenham last weekend. Apart from the winger, Dyche does not have any significant injury concerns for the Arsenal game and should be able to line up a strong team.
Joe Hart, who had a fantastic performance against Tottenham will keep his place, while the likes of Bardsley, Long, Tarkowski, Mee, and Taylor will set up in front of Hart in a five-man defensive set up. With Gudmundsson back, he could partner Westwood, Cork, and Hendrick in a four-man midfield, with Sam Vokes, set to play a lone striker’s role up front.
Probable Lineup (5-4-1) – Hart; Bardsley, Long, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Gudmundsson, Westwood, Cork, Hendrick; Vokes
- Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 10 games against Burnley in all competitions, winning 9 of them.
- Burnley have lost all of their four games against Arsenal at the Emirates by an aggregate scoreline of 13-2
- The last time Arsenal lost at home to Burnley was back in September 1974
- Arsenal have also won their last 27 home games against sides in the relegation zone.
- Since 1969, Burnley hasn’t won an away game in December, stretching to 23-top-flight games now.
1. Alexandre Lacazette to score anytime @ 1.66
1. Half-Time/Full-Time Result – Draw/Arsenal @ 4.00
Player To Watch
The Gabonese striker still leads the goalscoring charts alongside Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah with 10 goals so far in the league. However, since a raft of impressive performances, the striker has gone off the pace a little with no goals in his last four games in all competitions that he played. The Striker’s main aim would be to keep Arsenal a challenging prospect both in the league and Europe, but he needs his scoring boots back on.
Burnley will be a familiar opponent for the striker against whom he scored twice in their last game at the Emirates as well as providing an assist. However, Aubameyang has a great chance to start scoring again and hopefully, his partnership with Lacazette will shine at the Emirates and give Arsenal the artillery to march on to the top four.
Arsenal 3-0 Burnley
Burnley have come to be known as an ultra-defensive side of late, and despite a bad start to their season so far, they somewhat burst onto the scene against Spurs last weekend. However, Arsenal are playing at home and have a significant advantage to their side to impose their own game on Burnley. The Gunners have been rampant in front of goal and will continue to do so.
Despite Arsenal lacking creative outlets like Ozil and Ramsey in recent games, they still have the firepower to ensure they score and punish the opposition with their brilliant pressing play. Burnley, on the other hand, are not exactly a threat going forward and tend to restrict themselves to opportunistic counter-attacks, something Arsenal will not allow them and grab all three points.