Preview by Numbers: Burnley v. Arsenal

Turf Moor, Burnley
Sunday, October 2
11:30 a.m. EDT, 16:30 BST
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Craig Pawson
    • Assistants: Adrian Holmes and Scott Ledger
    • 4th Official: Lee Mason
  • This Match, Last Time: Burnley 0 - 1 Arsenal (April 11, 2015)
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 47 Arsenal wins, 33 Burnley wins, 21 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: L-D-W-W-W-W
  • Burnley's League Form: L-W-L-D-L-W
  • Weather: Clear, 58 °F / 14 °C
Take that, other Xhaka!
Another match, another swashbuckling performance. Though, it should be said (firmly tongue in cheek,) that Arsenal have gone from a 4-0 win to a 3-0 win to a 2-0 win. Anybody worried about this decline?!?

Of course, there are a smattering of Arsenal supporters who took the opportunity yesterday to complain that they didn't win by enough. Sure, it could have been 5 or 6-0, but some of Arsenal's finishing was a little suspect, plus Basel's goalkeeper made at least two or three excellent saves. Keep in mind, goal difference across all group matches is the sixth tiebreaker, so the odds of Arsenal falling a spot in the group table because they didn't run up the score on Basel are slim. With PSG still coming to play in London on matchday five, I would argue that Arsenal control their own fate in winning this group.

For now, we switch back to the league, as Arsenal head to Lancashire to face Burnley in advance of the coming international break. The Gunners have won four in a row in the league and have climbed to third in the table after dropping five points from their first two matches. The two teams ahead of Arsenal in the table face each other this weekend, so there's a chance they could climb even higher with a win.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Coquelin (knee,) Giroud (toe,) Ramsey (hamstring,) Mertesacker (knee,) Welbeck (knee,) Jenkinson (knee)

Here is a man who will not be playing for Wales next
weekend. Or Whales, either. That'd be weird, though.
Match previews after Wednesday night games are always tricky, because Arsène Wenger's press conference is usually held somewhere around six hours after this has been posted. Since I have not yet perfected my time machine, I'm not yet certain if there were any injury casualties from the win against Basel.

What we do know is that Aaron Ramsey will not be linking up with Wales during the upcoming international break (and their manager got all sassy about it.) Elsewhere, Olivier Giroud, who appears to have completely fallen out of favor, has been left out of France's squad as well.

If everyone escaped Wednesday without injury, then I see no reason for Wenger to make any changes, aside from his goalkeeper rotation.

Predicted XI: Čech, Bellerín, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Cazorla, Iwobi, Walcott, Özil, Alexis.

Burnley Squad News

Out: Barnes (thigh)
Suspended: Gray (second of four, improper conduct)

Disappointment over Andre Gray's suspension has been said
to have spurred Burnley on as they beat Watford Monday. 
Forward Andre Gray will serve the second match of the four-match ban he was handed by the FA. On August 23, Gray was charged with misconduct after it came to light that he had posted a series of homophobic tweets in 2012. Later, it was revealed that the FA was also investigating another tweet, from 2014, which used a derogatory racist term. On September 23, the FA handed Gray a ban of four matches. Manager Sean Dyche mentioned that the suspension has seemed to galvanize the club, as the Clarets emphatically beat Watford 2-0 on Monday. Burnley, as a club, are frustrated that their top-scorer from last season was suspended over events which pre-dated his time with the organization.

Elsewhere in the squad, Burnley have just one injury, as Ashley Barnes remains out with a thigh problem. As such, I would not expect any changes from the XI that beat Watford earlier in the week, except maybe a choice between Scott Arfield and Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson in midfield.

Predicted XI: Heaton, Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward, Marney, Hendrick, Defour, Boyd, Guðmundsson, Vokes.

Current Form

Of all the teams that wear claret and blue, Burnley has the
best record right now.
Arsenal's 2-0 win over Basel on Wednesday night extended the club's unbeaten run to eight matches and they have won six of their last seven to boot. Spanning back to the end of last season, Arsenal have lost just once in their last 18 competitive fixtures, since their loss to Barcelona in March. As I mentioned in Wednesday's preview, a lot of those non-losses at the end of last season were annoying draws, so this current unbeaten run feels a lot better than the last one, even if that one did end with pipping Spurs for second in hilarious fashion. An Arsenal win on Sunday would give them five straight in the league for the first time since last October.

Burnley have seven points from their opening six matches, which puts them on pace for 44 for the season. That should be enough for the club to stay up; the Clarets currently sit 13th in the table. They have not, however, scored a goal away from home at all this season, losing 3-0 at Chelsea, 3-0 at Leicester, and 2-0 at Accrington Stanley in the League Cup. But this game's at Turf Moor, where the Clarets have rebounded from an opening day loss to Swansea by beating Liverpool 2-0, drawing Hull 1-1 (where Hull scored their equalizer in the 95th minute,) and beating Watford 2-0 on Monday.

Match Facts

Alexis Sánchez scores the FA Cup winner last season, while
the crowd looks on wearing identical coats.
Burnley might have spent last season in the Championship, but Arsenal and Burnley still met in the FA Cup. In the fourth round, Arsenal battled to a 2-1 win at the Emirates as they kept their quest for a third-straight cup victory alive. Calum Chambers opened the scoring, but Sam Vokes equalized for the Clarets just six minutes later. Alexis Sánchez, at the time making his first start in two months after a hamstring injury, scored the winner in the 53rd.

When Burnley were in the top flight two seasons ago, Arsenal won both fixtures. In November 2014 at the Emirates, Alexis scored twice and Calum Chambers tallied his first as a Gunner as Arsenal ran out 3-0 winners; still, it took 70 minutes for Arsenal to finally get the breakthrough. At Turf Moor in April 2015, Aaron Ramsey scored after a dozen minutes and Arsenal held on to win 1-0.

Prior to the season opener this year, apparently both of Calum Chambers's career goals were against Burnley; he scored Arsenal's third against Liverpool, though, and now he's on loan at Middlesbrough, so this is just a weird statistical quirk worth noting, but it's not exactly relevant for Sunday.

The Referee

Craig Pawson demonstrates the "Macarena."
The referee is South Yorkshire-based Craig Pawson. Earlier this season, Pawson had the honor of refereeing the Community Shield (also known as "The Big Shiny Plate Game"), a 2-1 Manchester United win over Leicester City. This is his first match for both of these clubs this season.

Last year, Arsenal's record with Pawson was mixed-to-poor, including their 5-2 win at Leicester, a 0-0 draw at Stoke, the 3-2 loss at Manchester United, and the 3-3 draw at West Ham. With Burnley in the Championship, Pawson worked only one Clarets match last season, a 2-2 draw at Brighton & Hove Albion in early April.

Pawson worked Arsenal's aforementioned 3-0 win over Burnley at the Emirates back in November of 2014.

Around the League
  • Friday (night): Everton v. Crystal Palace; Goodison Park, Liverpool
  • Saturday (early): Swansea City v. Liverpool; Liberty Stadium, Swansea
  • Saturday: Hull City v. Chelsea; KCOM Stadium, Kingston upon Hull
  • Saturday: Sunderland v. West Bromwich Albion; Stadium of Light, Sunderland
  • Saturday: Watford v. Bournemouth; Vicarage Road, Watford
  • Saturday: West Ham United v. Middlesbrough; Olympic Stadium, London
  • Sunday (very early): Manchester United v. Stoke City; Old Trafford, Manchester
  • Sunday: Leicester City v. Southampton; King Power Stadium, Leicester
  • Sunday: Tottenham Hotspur v. Manchester City; White Hart Lane, London
John Painting is a contributing writer to the Modern Gooner and a French business conglomerate. You can follow him on Twitter @zorrocat s'il vous plaît.