Burnley Vs Arsenal
Saturday 18th September, Kick Off: 3pm
As we enter the fifth week of Premier League fixtures, few would have foreseen Arsenal and Burnley coexisting together around the relegation zone.
With just one point to their name, Burnley sit in 18th position, desperately in need of three precious points. Their performances have been extremely mixed; at times impressive and at times languid.
After dominating Brighton for large portions of their season opener, establishing a goal lead in the process, the Clarets conceded two late goals. Admittedly, Brighton have impressed since then but Burnley’s late capitulation has become somewhat of a trend in the weeks to follow.
When facing Leeds, Chris Wood managed to skim the ball with the faintest of touches past Meslier but, once again, Burnley failed to hold onto their lead as Bamford was gifted a scrappy equaliser right at the death.
Burnley have not been playing badly thus far, in fact they’ve enjoyed some good spells of football, often coming at the bequest of the supremely talented Dwight McNeil. Last week against Everton, McNeil lofted a pinpoint cross into the box, only for Wood to miss the ball which seemed destined to break the back of the net.
In truth, Burnley’s problems are not at the top of the pitch, after all they have been scoring goals. What they have struggled to do is close out games.
In three of their four league matches, the Clarets have led, only to later concede, taking one point from a potential nine. Therein lies Burnley’s struggles, their game management has been poor. Overcoming this will be a focal point for manager Sean Dyche, who today signed a four year deal keeping him at the club until the end of the 2024/05 season.
By comparison, Arsenal, with only one goal scored in four matches, are yet to demonstrate a consistent penchant for goalscoring.
Mikel Arteta is under huge scrutiny because of his side’s poor start to the season and even with victory over bottom placed Norwich last weekend, the Spaniard will be expected to return from Burnley with nothing less than a win.
To achieve this, Arteta will likely field a similar side to the one which appeared at the Emirates last Saturday.
In a press conference building up to the game, Arteta remained cryptic about Thomas Partey’s fitness, claiming that: "He's been training in and out this week. His load had to be managed because he was in the early stages of the injury, but he's pushing everybody as always and he wants to be involved. We'll see what's best for him."
One player who will most definitely start is new right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu whose blistering runs down the right flank against Norwich earnt him instant cult icon status amongst the Arsenal faithful.
Rumours about Jack Wilshere returning to Arsenal also arose during Arteta’s press conference this week and while he admitted the club were in contact with the player, his reply to whether Wilshere could feature on the field for Arsenal again was blunt: "I wouldn't take it that far."
Although Arsenal sit two spots above Burnley, the London side have a much worse goal difference. The onus will be on Gabriel and Ben White to prevent Burnley converting chances, especially from corner kicks where the Clarets, and particularly Tarkowski, continue to look so dangerous.
And after converting a rather fortunate goal last week, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be expected to cause Tarkowski and Ben Mee problems to help ensure boost Arsenal’s goal tally.
It is not enough for Arsenal to win this weekend, they must do so in a confident manner which signposts their pedigree as a high calibre side.
But if Burnley get an early goal the wheels could easily fall off for Arsenal, if Burnley can finally hold onto a lead that is.