Coming into the season, not may people would have thought Burnley and Arsenal would be close to each other in the table after the first few matches. But 12 games in and the two are equal on points with the Gunners ahead only on goal difference making this a very interesting matchup.
Burnley have been this season’s surprise team grabbing 22 points from 12 matches and losing only twice. They have done very well without changing the way they play or scoring a lot. They’ve won 22 points while only scoring 12 goals. Sam Vokes and Chris Wood have scored three goals each, but outside of them they have struggled to get consistent goal scoring. Despite the lack of scoring, Burnley have been hugely successful to start the season and will hope that continues against the Gunners.
Arsenal have had an up and down season, but find themselves on a high after a 2-0 win over rivals Tottenham Hotspur. The Gunners put in a convincing 2-0 win over their North London rivals and silenced a few of their critics in the process. They find themselves just four points off second place and well in contention for the Champions League spots. They did struggle at Turf Moor last season though, scraping out a 1-0 win through a questionable goal from Laurent Koscielny.
Chris Wood is a doubt for the match with hamstring tightness, according to Physioroom.com. They are expected to be without the trio of Dean Marney, Jonathan Walters, and Tom Heaton, according to Physioroom.com.
Arsenal will continue to be without Santi Cazorla as he continues to recover from his injury nightmares. They could also be without Theo Walcott as he attempts to recover from an illness, according to Physioroom.com.
Burnley: Jeff Hendrick
Burnley’s game plan against Arsenal will be the same as it is for most of their matches: sit deep and force the Gunners to take low percentage shots. Burnley have had a lot of success suckering opposing teams into taking shots far from goal with lots of defenders in the way then making their chances count on the break. This strategy needs the midfield to find the correct depth to play at, make good decisions of when to press the ball and when to sit off, and transition the defense into a deadly counter attack. Hendrick will likely have to be at the centre of all of that and will have to perform well to get a result.
Arsenal: Mesut Ozil
Arsenal’s key to win will be to get their best players in positions to create one or two of the high-quality chances Burnley work to stop. Ozil is one of those players with the quality to unlock the tight Burnley defense. His presence in between the midfield and defensive lines will be very important and his creative influence will have to be evident for the Gunners to get all three points.
Burnley have been really strong this season and Arsenal have been really poor away from home for the entirety of 2017. That said, it’s still hard to see Burnley scoring more than one goal and keeping the ever-dangerous Arsenal attack totally quiet, so a draw seems a good possibility for this one.
Prediction: 1-1 Draw