Arsenal resume Premier League business on Sunday afternoon when Burnley visit the Emirates, looking to put the agony of Thursday’s EFL Cup loss behind them. The Gunners are presently sixth in the Premier League table, two points behind fourth-placed West Ham United, while Sean Dyche’s side are still at the bottom.
Another day, another Arsenal red card, this time to a player who had only recently returned to England before being forced to walk the stroll of humiliation, as Thomas Partey’s dismissal capped off a dreadful Thursday night for Mikel Arteta’s men.
Notwithstanding the welcome of numerous big-hitters returning from injury and coronavirus, Arsenal’s EFL Cup aspirations came to an abrupt end in the semifinals, when Diogo Jota scored both sides of the interval for Liverpool, putting the Reds in the final against Chelsea in February.
Arsenal have been surpassed by their biggest rivals following their stunning late fightback versus Leicester City. Arsenal’s proposal to reschedule last weekend’s North London derby was approved amid public outrage from rival fans and the media. The Gunners have suffered three losses and a draw from four games in all competitions in January, missing the net in each of their last three, but Premier League games at the Emirates are where Arteta’s men have always flourished.
Arsenal have an excellent record from home games this season. Their tally of 22 points in ten home games is the third-highest in the league. Hence, Burnley, who are at the bottom of the league, will have to pull off something miraculous in order to make one of their games in hand count for something.
Many Arsenal supporters pointed out that Burnley’s series of rescheduled matches did not spark the same outrage as the North London derby postponement, as Dyche’s team had their relegation six-pointer with Watford put off owing to a significant number of absentees.
Burnley, who have now played six fewer matches than Chelsea, the league’s busiest team with 23, visit the Emirates with a ray of optimism of climbing up to safety amid calls for rule revisions from the under-fire Premier League about the grounds for delays and cancellations.
The Clarets have not played since being knocked out of the FA Cup by Huddersfield Town on January 8 – their third straight defeat in all competitions – but they are only three points below Watford in 17th place, with two games in hand.
Arsenal won 1-0 at Turf Moor earlier this season thanks to a Martin Odegaard wonder goal, but that was their only defeat in their last four meetings with the Gunners, who lost 1-0 in this match last season thanks to an own goal by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
WHEN & WHERE?
Venue: The Emirates Stadium.
Date: Sunday, 23rd of January 2022.
Time: Kick-off at 14:00 BST.
Referee: David Coote.
Assistant Referees: Gary Beswick, Nick Hopton.
Video Assistant Referee: Chris Kavanagh.
Fourth Official: Robert Jones.
Arteta’s midfield problems are intensifying, with Partey, and Granit Xhaka – who has been sent off twice against Burnley – suspended, and Mohamed Elneny and Nicolas Pepe away at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Despite having “totally healthy” heart checks, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will not be gambled on just yet, and Arteta also has problems regarding Calum Chambers, Cedric Soares, and Bernd Leno to contend with.
With Arteta hesitant to plunge 18-year-old Charlie Patino into the deep end, Martin Odegaard will likely be called upon to play a deeper position partnering with Albert Sambi Lokonga.
Meanwhile, it’s unclear how Burnley’s COVID-19 group will affect their team this weekend, although players like Johann Berg Gudmudsson, Nathan Collins, Dwight McNeil, Charlie Taylor, Erik Pieters, and Matej Vydra are expected to be concerned.
Some of the impacted individuals will undoubtedly hope to play this weekend, but Connor Roberts and Ashley Barnes are both expected to miss out due to injury, and Maxwel Cornet is still serving in the AFCON.
Following Wood’s transfer, Jay Rodriguez will be tasked with producing goals, and Aaron Lennon could accompany the 32-year-old in the attacking third if Vydra is not yet prepared to return.
Can Burnley get out of their rut or will it be an easy win for Arsenal?
Burnley currently sit 20th in the Premier League table with just 1 win in 17 games. The last game played by the Clarets was back on January 8th where they lost 1-2 to Huddersfield in an FA Cup encounter and their last win was back in late October where they beat Brentford 3-1 at home. Granted they have a few games in hand to get out of the relegation zone, it seems a bit of a long shot considering their results this season.
Arsenal themselves have not enjoyed a very cheerful January, failing to win any of their four games in all competitions. However, Burnley does seem like a good fixture for the Gunners to get their back on their feet. Burnley do seem less of an offensive threat after losing their star man Chris Wood to relegation rivals, Newcastle United.
The Gunners should simply not underestimate their opponents as they have clearly got the better of them twice in their last four fixtures.
ARSENAL – BUKAYO SAKA:
The young star is by far the player to be feared the most by this Burnley defence. Saka has managed to score 6 goals and 4 assists in 20 PL appearances this season. The prodigal winger will be a menace on the wings for the Gunners and will look to exploit Burnley’s defensive woes.
The Burnley defense will have to mark him out and ensure that he does not end up creating a lot of chances from the right side. He has become the key attacking threat in this Arsenal squad and big things can surely be expected from him.
BURNLEY – DWIGHT MCNEIL:
With an attack already low on options, the Clarets will be relying upon winger Dwight McNeil to create most of their chances, if any. The 22-year-old is a beacon of hope in this depleted Burnley squad and will be aiming to create problems from the left wing with his exquisite crossing and passing abilities.
The youngster is also an excellent set-piece taker and is a definitive threat that Arsenal’s fullback, Takehiro Tomiyasu will have to watch out for in order to keep the Clarets’ attack silent.
Arsenal (4-1-4-1): Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Lokonga; Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Martinelli; Lacazette.
Burnley (4-4-2): Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Brownhill, Westwood, Stephens, McNeil; Lennon, Rodriguez.