Arsenal host bottom of the table Burnley at the Emirates today. It’s an important contest for both clubs — the Gunners are looking to keep pace with their Top 4 rivals, the Clarets are hoping to start making up the 5-point gap to safety. Arsenal won the first meeting between the clubs in September on the strength of a fabulous Martin Ødegaard free kick goal.
For what it’s worth, the current table is deceiving. Arsenal have multiple games in hand over all the teams ahead of them in the table save for Tottenham, and if the Gunners were to win all their games in hand, they would jump Manchester United and West Ham and draw level with Chelsea.
Burnley have a whopping 5 games in hand on Norwich in 17th, 4 over Newcastle in 18th, and 3 over Watford — basically the only reason that Burnley are bottom is because they’ve had so many matches postponed. Their opponents have requested postponements 2, they have requested them twice, and one match got snowed out.
Burnley have won just one of their last 20 Premier League matches and none of their last 8. But four of their last five league wins have come on the road. I almost didn’t share Burnley’s recent form statistics because I don’t want today to become another Everton situation. The Toffees have one win in their last 13 matches: the win came against Arsenal.
Unfortunately for Burnley, the two most recent postponements came at their behest, and they still may be missing players due to COVID. Dwight McNeil, Nathan Collins, and Erik Pieters must all clear protocols (by testing negative) to be available today. Charles Taylor and Connor Roberts are both questionable. Ashley Barnes is out with a thigh problem. Maxwel Cornet is at AFCON.
The Gunners are getting healthier but have some rust to knock off. Takehiro Tomiyasu and Emile Smith Rowe played against Liverpool after spells in the training room, however neither looked back to match sharpness / fitness. Calum Chambers missed out against Liverpool with a neck problem and is questionable today. Bernd Leno has a “back” issue that may or may not be related to him being a likely loan / sale target before the end of the month. Cedric Soares is out with a hip problem. Mohamed Elneny and Nicolas Pépé are at AFCON. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, though recovered from his COVID-related cardiac issue, is probably still suspended by the team. Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey are both suspended due to red cards.
Whether Burnley are better than the 20th place they currently sit in or not, they are a bottom third team. Clubs with Top 4 aspirations like Arsenal beat those kind of teams, especially at home. These are three points the Gunners must have.
Arsenal - Ramsdale, White, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Lokonga, Ødegaard, Saka, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Lacazette
Burnley - Pope, Roberts, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters, McNeil, Brownhill, Westwood, Lennon, Rodriguez, Vydra
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