Arsenal head to Burnley for the final day of the Premier League season needing a miracle to finish in the top four ahead of Tottenham.
Arsenal’s disappointing few weeks recovered after the side booked their place in the Europa League Final in Baku, where they will face fellow London rivals Chelsea for the title. It could be a significant relief for Unai Emery, and whoever that supports Arsenal after the team’s challenge for a top-four place fell apart dramatically.
Merely a few weeks ago, Arsenal were heavy favourites to finish among the top four, and the challenge was entirely in their hands until their campaign fell apart. Consecutive defeats to Crystal Palace, Wolves and Leicester City were compounded by their disappointing draw at home to Brighton & Hove Albion; the series of results effectively ended their top four hopes.
However, due to Tottenham’s own terrible form, they remain only three points off Arsenal, although they have a significant goal difference over the Gunners. Arsenal now needs a miracle to finish in the top four, wherein they’d be hoping Spurs lose their game heavily and the Gunners themselves might have to win by a considerable margin.
But Burnley have been stubborn like every season, and one can only imagine Sean Dyche’s side conceding the number of goals Arsenal need to finish in Champions League places. Additionally, Burlney have absolutely nothing to play for unlike this time last season where they were chasing the seventh spot and ironically came close to leapfrogging Arsenal who finished sixth then.
Burnley have recorded 11 wins, 7 draws, and 19 defeats this season, collecting 40 points in the process. That points tally keeps them well ahead of the relegation zone although they remain too far off from their last season’s finish. They will be hoping to all but end Arsenal’s lingering hope of finishing above Tottenham and try to exploit the problems the Gunners have faced away from home this season.
Team News & Tactics
Burnley have to contend with a few problems ahead of Arsenal’s visit at Turf Moor. Aaron Lennon, Robbie Brady, and Steven Defour are all still unavailable due to their respective injury problems. However, there could be a return for Phil Bardsley who is now fine after suffering from a gashed leg.
Dyche should continue with Ashley Barnes, and Chris Wood as his forward options after the pair have performed well in recent months. Peter Crouch, who is out of contract in the summer will be hoping to feature, but that could be off the bench at some stage of the game and not from the start.
Dyche could bring back Dwight McNeil into the side after leaving him out against Everton. The 19-year old impressed for the Clarets this season having scored three goals and provided five assists and Burnley will look forward to keeping him this summer amid interest from Newcastle United.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Heaton; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Berg Gudmundsson, Westwood, Cork, McNeil; Wood, Barnes
Unai Emery has a few problems after Arsenal’s trip to Valencia where they secured a place in the Europa League Final. In addition to Aaron Ramsey and Denis Suarez being out with injuries, wing-backs Sead Kolasinac and Ainsley Maitland-Niles also reportedly suffered knocks during the game. They might be rested as a precaution as Emery could revert back to a back four against Burnley.
Nacho Monreal was also considered a doubt after coming off against Valencia, but the defender seems to be doing fine since. He could come in at left-back in Kolasinac’s place while Sokratis and Koscielny are expected to form a central defensive pairing. At right back, Emery has Stephan Lichtsteiner and Carl Jenkinson, but we suspect he’d start Shkodran Mustafi there.
Emery could afford starts for Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan against Burnley alongside Mesut Ozil. In the case, Iwobi starts then Emery is likely to rest one of his star forwards, with the suspect being Alexandre Lacazette. The Frenchman could be used as an asset off the bench at some point during the game
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Mustafi, Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Iwobi; Aubameyang
- Burnley have lost their last nine meetings with Arsenal in all competitions – only against Wolves have they ever lost more consecutively (11 between 1987-2002).
- Arsenal have won their last three Premier League away games against Burnley, all by a 1-0 scoreline.
- In the last two campaigns, Arsenal have scored a 90th-minute winner at Turf Moor.
- Burnley have lost their last two Premier League games on the closing day of the season, losing 1-2 against West Ham and Bournemouth despite taking the lead both times.
- Arsenal haven’t lost on the final day of a Premier League season since 2004-05.
1. Full-Time Result – Burnley or Draw @ 1.70
1. Burnley to win @ 3.25
Player to Watch
A shining light in Arsenal’s Premier League season that is all set to end in disappointment. Aubameyang, alongside Lacazette, has been one of Arsenal’s most reliable player this season and his 20 goals in the league are proof. Aubameyang still has an outside chance of finishing as the league’s top scorer if he could score enough goals to overtake those in front of him.
With pride, a very slim but possible Champions League place and personal accolade all at stake on the final day, Aubameyang needs to be at the top of his form like he showed against Valencia to achieve the improbable.
Burnley 1-2 Arsenal
Have Arsenal woken up now after seemingly falling asleep during their last four games? From their performance against Valencia, they certainly look so. But the task at hand to finish above Tottenham needs an emphatic victory and a loss for Spurs at the same time. It is a dire situation, one that is possible, but mainly improbable.
Burnley have been stubborn in the league this season, especially when they host big six sides at Turf Moor. They will likely show that stubbornness again, and this time to kill any hopes Arsenal might have. On any other day we’d have expected the game to end in a draw given the Gunners’ away form, but considering their performance in the Europa League we are predicting an Arsenal win against Burnley.