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Match Preview: Burnley vs Arsenal; Gunners look for more progress

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Arsenal enter the weekend looking to secure back-to-back wins in the Premier League when the Gunners travel to Turf Moor to take on Burnley on Saturday.

While Mikel Arteta was notably relieved to get his first win of the season last weekend, there remains a serious pressure on the manager to demonstrate that the team is indeed improving and the upcoming fixture against Burnley should provide the chance to do just that. It will be a much different challenge than Norwich for Arsenal against The Clarets, who adopt an old-school style of play which so far has generated the fewest counter-attacks, yet also the fewest open play possessions maintained for more than 45 seconds, per Total Football Analysis.

Here lies the first question mark for Arsenal: How can the offense built upon possession score goals despite the oppositions defensive strategy reliant on simply kicking them into submission.

The good news for Arsenal is that so far this strategy has not worked well for Burnley who currently sit in the relegation zone and come off a 3-1 defeat to Everton last weekend. Arsenal were able to create chances against Norwich, and the broken play tactic should suit players like Aubameyang, and Pepe quite well who are often devastating on the counter and in space.

Burnley’s system is focused on using their physicality (bordering on the dangerous and reckless) to generate broken-play matches where they can disrupt the opponent’s possession, hit long balls and eventually crosses into their two main strikers.

Here lies the second big question mark for Arsenal: How will the defense fare against two physical strikers in the air?

Ben White will be under the microscope this weekend after his below-average showing in aerial duals against Brentford in the opening weekend of the season. Unlike then, White has his center back partner in Gabriel fit, and their communication will be critical. Further, new signing Tomiyasu who came to Arsenal with a highly touted defensive aerial ability and demonstrated as such during the match against Norwich, will be critical in aiding the center backs and providing additional defensive stability.

Further, this match suits Aaron Ramsdale quite well as he is known to come off his lines well, and is much more physical and committed to taking the ball off the head of an attacker than Bernd Leno.

Team News & Predictions

Burnley enter this match without the trio of Dale Stephens, Kevin Long, and Connor Roberts who are unlikely to be fit in time for the match. Newcomers Nathan Collins and Maxwell Cornet could be in line to make their first appearances for The Clarets. Fans will be no doubt eager to see Burnley’s premier summer signing in Cornet debut from the onset.

Arsenal will be without Rob Holding and Mohamed Elneny, who were confirmed out with injury alongside Granit Xhaka who serves the second of a three-game suspension for his red card.

Arsenal Predicted Starting XI: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Partey, Sambi, Ødegaard, Smith Rowe, Saka, Aubameyang

Burnley Predicted Starting XI: Pope, Lowton, Mee, Tarkowski, Cornet, Gudmundsson, Westwood, Brownhill, McNeil, Wood, Barnes

Luckily for Arsenal, The Clarets are one of the few teams who have started the season worse, with just a single point over the first four matches.

Prediction is a 2-0 win for The Arsenal.

What the Manager is Saying (courtesy Arsenal.com)

on dealing with the threat Burnley bring…
Obviously it is going to be a completely different game that when we played against Norwich because of their qualities and the game they propose, where they want to take the game to and we will have to avoid it as much as possible and do the opposite thing.

on Burnley looking to make it uncomfortable for us and the referee’s role…
I don’t know, we know the rules and we respect the rules and there is an official who has to say what is right and what is wrong.

Arsenal Record vs Opponent (League Only)

10W 1L 3D

Match Officials

Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistants: Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn
Fourth official: John Brooks
VAR: Lee Mason
Assistant VAR: Matthew Wilkes.

Match Facts (courtesy BBC.co.uk)

  • Burnley have not lost any of the last three encounters – including two draws – though they were beaten in the preceding 10 Premier League meetings.
  • Arsenal’s most recent league defeat at Turf Moor was in 1973. They are unbeaten in nine subsequent top-flight matches there (W4, D5).
  • Arsenal could lose each of their opening three away league fixtures for the first time since 1954. Only in 1923 have they begun with three away defeats while failing to score a single goal.
  • The Gunners have won 14 of their last 16 Premier League games after scoring first. The sole draw in that sequence came at Turf Moor last season, when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s opener was cancelled out by Chris Wood.
  • They have lost 15 of the past 21 top-flight matches in which they conceded first, including each of the previous four.
  • The Gunners attempted 30 shots against Norwich, their highest total in a league game since December 2017. They had only managed a combined tally of 29 shots in their opening three top-flight fixtures.
  • Mikel Arteta’s side have conceded an unrivalled six first-half goals in this season’s Premier League.
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored eight goals in seven Premier League appearances against Burnley, his highest total against an English club. He netted nine Bundesliga goals versus Hamburg during his time at Borussia Dortmund.

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