Arsenal will be raring to bounce back to winning ways in the Premier League when they take on Burnley at Turf Moor on Sunday.
Gameweek 25 of the 2019-20 Premier League season continues on Sunday, with three of the ‘Big Six’ clubs in action. Arsenal will resume their bid to bridge the gap to the top four when Burnley play hosts to them at Turf Moor.
Burnley were once seen as a fearsome customer for the biggest of teams due to their resilient nature under Sean Dyche. However, as demonstrated this term and for some time, the Clarets have fallen prey to inconsistency, which has seen their stock plummet. The hosts, though, will be buoyed by the fact that they have notched up impressive wins in their last two Premier League games.
Arsenal, on the other hand, would like to believe that they are making progress under Mikel Arteta. While positive changes are visible in the way they approach games, results have not really gone their way, with Arteta overseeing just one win in six Premier League games in-charge. The Gunners though, have not lost a game in six across all competitions, which is a bit of a positive.
The reverse fixture, played at the Emirates back in August, saw Arsenal win 2-1, with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on target for the Gunners, while Ashley Barnes scored for Burnley. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Sean Dyche has seen his squad’s injury woes ease up considerably ahead of the visit of Arsenal. On Sunday, the Burnley boss will have just two first-team players on the sidelines, with Ashley Barnes (hernia) and Johann Berg Gudmundsson (thigh) the only players unavailable.
There is some good news in that Phil Bardsley has recovered from his back injury and is available. Meanwhile, January signing Josh Brownhill is in contention to make his debut, although he is unlikely to start against Arsenal.
Bardsley is likely to return to the starting lineup, replacing Matt Lowton on the right side of the Burnley defence. That might be the only change to the side that started against Manchester United last week, with Ben Mee and James Tarkowski forming the central defensive partnership, while Charlie Taylor will be the left-back. Nick Pope is the obvious choice in goal.
Dwight McNeil will be the chief creative threat for Burnley, starting on the left flank, with Jeff Hendrick providing the legs on the right. Jack Cork and Ashley Westwood ought to partner up in the central areas in midfield, with the duo looking to stifle Arsenal during their build-up play.
With Ashley Barnes out injured, Jay Rodriguez and Chris Wood will form the strike partnership. The duo should be in high spirits ahead of the game, having both been on target at Old Trafford against Manchester United.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Pope; Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Hendrick, Westwood, Cork, McNeil; Wood, Rodriguez
Unlike his counterpart in the Burnley dugout, Mikel Arteta has quite a few fitness issues hampering his preparations ahead of the trip to Turf Moor. On Sunday, the Arsenal manager will likely be without six first-team players, although he is set to welcome back a couple of regulars.
David Luiz and Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are available after serving their respective suspensions. The duo are expected to slot straight back into the starting lineup, with Luiz starting at the heart of the Arsenal defence, while Aubameyang could lead the line against Burnley.
As for those who are unavailable, these include Cedric Soares, who joined Arsenal on loan from Southampton on deadline day. Cedric is currently recovering from a knee injury and will be in contention to return post the winter break. Other than Cedric, Arteta will also likely be without Sead Kolasinac, Shkodran Mustafi, Reiss Nelson, Kieran Tierney and Calum Chambers.
Another January arrival, Pablo Mari, will be hopeful of making his Arsenal debut against Burnley, but might have to wait for his maiden appearance for now. Sokratis Papastathopoulos will start alongside Luiz at the heart of the Arsenal defence, with Hector Bellerin and Bukayo Saka being the full-backs. Bernd Leno picks himself between the sticks.
In the midfield double pivot, there is no looking past Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira, who have struck up a fine bond since Arteta was appointed as the manager. Up ahead in attack, the key decision will be regarding the player Aubameyang replaces on his return to the side.
Gabriel Martinelli was the player to take Aubameyang’s place in the last three games, but seeing as Alexandre Lacazette is going through a dry spell, it could be the French striker who makes way for Aubameyang. As a result, Martinelli should once again start on the left flank, with Nicolas Pepe being deployed on the right wing, while Mesut Ozil will pull the strings in the final third.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, Sokratis, Luiz, Saka; Xhaka, Torreira; Pepe, Ozil, Martinelli; Aubameyang
- Burnley have lost their last 11 matches against Arsenal in all competitions, a run stretching back to March 2010.
- Burnley have not led for a single minute in 11 Premier League games against Arsenal. The only team to have played more games against an opponent without being ahead in a match are Portsmouth versus Chelsea (14 games).
- None of Burnley’s last 17 Premier League games have ended level, with the Clarets winning seven and losing 10. Burnley have won two in a row on three separate occasions in that run (including a current streak), but they have not won three in a row in the competition since April 2019.
- Burnley manager Sean Dyche’s record of losing all nine of his Premier League games against Arsenal is the joint-worst 100 per cent losing record against an opponent in the history of the competition, along with Eddie Howe against Manchester City and Gary Megson against Liverpool.
- Gabriel Martinelli is looking to become only the fourth player aged under 19 to score in three consecutive Premier League appearances, after Danny Cadamarteri (October 1997, Everton), Michael Owen (December 1997 and May 1998, Liverpool) and Francis Jeffers (May 1999, Everton).
Player to Watch
It has been a tough start to the year for Aubameyang. While the Arsenal captain was on target in his last game, against Crystal Palace, he was also sent off in the same match for a horrendous tackle. Having served time on the sidelines as a result, the Gabonese striker will be raring to go.
Expected to start in his preferred role as the central striker, Aubameyang will have the chance to make a huge impact on return. That Burnley are one of his favourite opponents – Aubameyang has scored seven goals in four Premier League outings against the Clarets – only adds to the hype surrounding his return.
At a time when his future with the Gunners is at its most uncertain, Aubameyang will hope to let his game do the talking on the field and let his future sort itself out in due course. A big game for all parties concerned on the visiting end.
Burnley 1-3 Arsenal
Burnley have marked a return to form in the Premier League in the last couple of weeks, and even though they would be disappointed to be booted out of the FA Cup last weekend, their recent form should fill the home fans with confidence.
However, Arsenal have showed some definitive improvements, especially at the back and will not make Burnley’s job any easy. Add to it the fact that Gabriel Martinelli cannot stop scoring and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be back in the side, and the scales seem to be tipping in favour of the visitors.
Arsenal should take charge of the proceedings from the get-go, with Burnley posing a threat on the counter. In the end, however, the Gunners should be fairly comfortable, which is why The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-1 win for Mikel Arteta & co. in what will be a statement result for them.