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Arsenal at Burnley preview: keep it rolling

Turf Moor has been kind to the Gunners. Hopefully that trend persists.

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Arsenal Training Session Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Mikel Arteta described Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Norwich last weekend as the culmination of the “best week of his career.” Hyperbole? Maybe. But the Gunners will look to keep the good times rolling when they travel to Turf Moor to take on Burnley tomorrow. It’s a contest that Arsenal should win, but with this squad, we shouldn’t ever count our chickens.

The Gunners are unbeaten in their last 9 trips to Turf Moor (4W, 5D), and Burnley are winless in their last 12 Premier League tilts at home. Mikel Arteta will hope that both of those trends continue, although he’s certainly got his sights set on full points. North London Derby next week aside, Arsenal are in a softer spell in their schedule, and after the poor start to the season, need to bank as many points as possible if they want to truly compete for the European places come the business end of the season.

The question facing Mikel Arteta right now (and for the rest of the season, really) is who to start behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Bukayo Saka seems a lock on the left side when he’s fit and not being rested. So it’s two from Martin Ødegaard, Emile Smith Rowe, and Nicolas Pépé. It’s anybody’s guess as to which Arteta will pick — my feeling is that it’ll change from week to week depending on the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent. You can check out Nathan’s Predicted XI here.

On the opposite side of the pitch, Burnley are in desperate need of goals. Sean Dyche’s side have netted three through four matches (to be fair, Arsenal have just the one), but the Clarets don’t have the offensive firepower that the Gunners do. Given Ben White’s vulnerability in the air and Burnley’s propensity to fire in crosses from anywhere, there’s a chance Chris Wood could cause problems. Hopefully Takehiro Tomiyasu’s aerial prowess, Gabriel’s physical strength, and Aaron Ramsdale’s command of the area can cover for White’s weakness.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the key for Arsenal will be to not concede first (although Everton did alright last weekend going behind). The Gunners’ chance-creation struggles have been well-documented, and Burnley love to park the bus to try to white-knuckle out a 1-0 victory. It’ll be tough sledding for an Arsenal offense should they go behind. The Gunners attack does it’s best work on the break playing quickly into spaces between defenders, which won’t exist for a Burnley defense protecting a lead with 10 men behind the ball.

I’ll also be curious to see whether the officiating cracks down a bit on sliding / leaping challenges after Harvey Elliot’s injury and the controversial tackle James Tarkowski put in on Richarlison last weekend. In the Premier League’s effort to restore game flow, the pendulum has swung too far towards leniency in calling fouls. Hard, dangerous challenges are on the rise, and we’re going to see more injuries if things don’t change. And we know Burnley love a nasty tackle, so I’m a bit worried for the likes of Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pépé.

Burnley will be without new signing right back Connor Roberts (groin), midfielder Dale Stephens (ankle), and centerback Kevin Long (ankle). Arsenal will be missing Mohamed Elneny (hamstring) and Rob Holding (knee) both of whom are expected back next week. Granit Xhaka will serve the second of his three match ban.

WHAT: Arsenal at Burnley
WHERE: Turf Moor
WHEN: Saturday, September 18th 7 am PT | 10 am ET | 3 pm BT
US TV: NBCSN. Streaming on fuboTV ($$$) and NBC app (TV provider log-in)

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