Emirates Stadium, London
Sunday, January 22
9:15 a.m. EST, 14:15 GMT
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Assistants: Marc Perry and Andy Halliday
4th Official: Anthony Taylor
Reverse Fixture: Burnley 0 – 1 Arsenal
This Match, Last Time: Arsenal 3 – 0 Burnley (November 1, 2014)
All-Time in All Competitions: 48 Arsenal wins, 33 Burnley wins, 21 draws
Arsenal’s League Form: L-L-W-W-D-W
Burnley’s League Form: L-L-W-W-L-W
It is now mid-January, also known as “when Arsenal started to Bleep up their title run last year,” and the Gunners are currently right in the middle of a six team title race. Chelsea have a moderate-to-enormous seven point lead at the top of the table, meaning the odds of them winning the league are something like 75%-ish right now, but there’s still plenty of football to be played. Arsenal play at Stamford Bridge in two weeks’ time in a match that will likely make or break Arsenal’s title chances this season.
But you can only play one match at a time, so Arsenal will need to focus solely on Burnley at home on Sunday. The Clarets have been a decent side this season, especially at Turf Moor, which has propelled them into the top half of the table, but their road form is abysmal. That means Arsenal need to be looking to take all three points from this fixture, as well as from Watford’s visit to the Emirates on the 31st before they head into that showdown in West London on February 4.
Arsenal Squad News
Out: Elneny (Africa Cup,) Walcott (calf,) Debuchy (hamstring,) Cazorla (Achilles,) Mertesacker (match fitness)
Doubts: Giroud (ankle,)
There’s plenty of good news in the injury list this week as Hector Bellerín, Francis Coquelin, and Kieran Gibbs are all back in training and supposedly available; among the three, I would think that only Bellerín will start. I would not rush Coquelin back from a hamstring problem.
Olivier Giroud was back in training on Wednesday after he had to be removed from last weekend’s win; the Frenchman has scored a goal in nine consecutive starts, but it remains to be seen if the in-form target man will retain his place in the XI without a full week of training. If he’s not ready, then Alexis will play up top. There’s still no sign of Theo Walcott, out since Christmas with a calf problem, and he has not been in training. So, if Alexis plays up top, it looks like it’ll be Alex Iwobi and Lucas Pérez on the wings.
Per Mertesacker is a few weeks away from match fitness, so the BFG remains out. Mohamed Elneny is still on international duty with Egypt; the Pharaohs opened the group stage with a scoreless draw against Mali. They play Uganda tomorrow and Ghana on the 25th.
Carl Jenkinson’s sale to Crystal Palace has fallen through; it looks like the clubs had arranged a transfer fee, but Jenkinson could not agree to personal terms with the Eagles. Considering Arsenal has been starting a center back at right back with Bellerín out injured, I could not really fathom why Arsenal would sell their only depth at the position during the January window. That aside, I would not expect Jenko to remain with the club this summer.
Predicted XI: Čech, Bellerín, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi, Pérez, Özil, Alexis.
Burnley Squad News
Out: Long (knee)
Doubts: Marney (knock,) Guðmundsson (hamstring,) Arfield (hamstring)
Jóhann Guðmundsson and Scott Arfield are both 50/50 doubts with hamstring injuries, while Dean Marney is more like 75/25 to play with a knock of his own. Kevin Long is ruled out until February following knee surgery; Long has only made one appearance this season, in a League Cup tie against Accrington Stanley. Long injured his cruciate ligament two years ago and recently had minor surgery to remove scar tissue; he’s made only 24 appearances for the club since joining in 2010.
Meanwhile, the Clarets have Joey Barton again. The outspoken midfielder signed with Burnley before last season and made 37 appearances for the club before switching to Rangers this past summer. He made only eight appearances for the Scottish club, however, and signed again with the Clarets at the start of this January window. He’s already made three appearances for Burnley and scored the winner off the bench last weekend against Southampton. He should start, considering Dean Marney’s availability is questionable.
Burnley did play in midweek, as they needed a replay to beat Sunderland in the FA Cup, so they may not be as well-rested as Arsenal. Still, Sean Dyche rotated a bit in the cup tie Tuesday, meaning the Clarets should have a fairly usual starting XI on Sunday.
With the Marney/Barton decision in the center of midfield aside, the only question will really be the two strikers up top, with Ashley Barnes, Andre Gray, and Sam Vokes all looking for starts. Vokes started the cup tie, so I’ll guess Gray and Barnes start here.
Predicted XI: Heaton, Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward, Boyd, Barton, Defour, Hendrick, Gray, Barnes.
Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Swansea last weekend brings their current unbeaten streak up to five. It certainly doesn’t feel like they’re unbeaten in five, right? That’s because, among the five, Arsenal left it late to beat West Brom, beat Palace 2-0, needed to come from 3-0 down to draw Bournemouth, needed to come from behind to beat Preston North End, and then finally won comfortably for a change last weekend. It all means that Arsenal are basically treading water; they were nine points out of first after losing to Manchester City on December 19 and they are eight points out of first now.
On December 19, Burnley had 17 points and were only three points clear of relegation. Today, they are in 10th place, with 26 points, and are 10 points clear of relegation. So, what happened over the holiday period for the Clarets? Well, they’ve won three of four in the league, losing only to Manchester City just after New Year’s Day. They beat Middlesbrough 1-0 on Boxing Day, Sunderland 4-1 on New Year’s Eve, and Southampton 1-0 last weekend. They also beat Sunderland 2-0 in a replay in the FA Cup, earning them a date with Bristol City at Turf Moor next weekend.
The secret to Burnley’s success has been their home form, however. The Clarets are 6th in the league at home, but dead last away from home. They’ve lost eight of their last nine away from Turf Moor in the league; they’re only road point earned this season came, oddly enough, at Old Trafford of all places, when they earned a 0-0 draw on October 29. Their last Premier League road win was the final day of the 2014/15 season, when they beat Aston Villa in Birmingham.
Arsenal have won five straight against Burnley across all competitions, including the reverse of this fixture. Their 1-0 win at Turf Moor on October 2 was Arsenal’s fifth straight in the league at the time, but it was not without its difficulties. Laurent Koscielny bundled a winner across the line after a short corner routine in the third minute of two added minutes in second half added time.
Burnley have lost four straight against Arsenal in the league and are winless in their last eight league fixtures against the Gunners. They did snare a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor in December of 2009; I’ll always remember that midweek fixture because I had a nasty cold and it was the first time Cesc Fábregas injured his hamstring. I don’t think he was ever fully healthy for Arsenal ever again.
These sides met at the Emirates last season, even with Burnley playing in the Championship, as they were drawn together in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Arsenal won that match 2-1. Calum Chambers opened the scoring for the Gunners, but Sam Vokes equalized after half an hour. Alexis Sánchez, returning from a hamstring injury, scored the second half winner.
Burnley’s last win over Arsenal was in the League Cup, 2-0, on December 2, 2008. The Clarets’ last win in London against Arsenal was on September 7, 1974.
The referee is West Yorkshire-based Jonathan Moss. Arsenal had a record of 11 wins from 11 matches with Moss as referee, including the 2015 FA Cup Final win over Aston Villa. Then, the middle of last season hit. Moss was in the middle for Arsenal’s damaging 1-1 draw with Norwich City in November, then found himself in the middle of Arsenal’s Boxing Day destruction at Southampton.
The Gunners righted the ship again in Moss matches with a 2-0 win over West Brom last April, and earlier this year beat Swansea 3-2 with Moss in the middle, so now Arsenal’s record is 13 wins from 15. Still, that win over Swansea was complicated, as Granit Xhaka was controversially sent off while Swansea went unpunished for a few elbows to the faces of Theo Walcott and Nacho Monreal.
Burnley have only had Moss once so far this season, on the opening day of the year, as they lost 1-0 at home to Swansea. Last year, with Burnley in the Championship, Moss worked two Clarets matches: a 0-0 draw at Wolves in November and a 1-0 win over QPR in May; that win secured Burnley’s promotion to the top flight.