2018-19 Premier League: Arsenal v Burnley, Preview and Prediction
Arsenal's longest unbeaten run for over ten years has come to an end, as two defeats in a row have cast a shadow over The Emirates. The Gunners now sit fifth in the Premier League and are out of the EFL Cup thanks to an excellent Tottenham performance in midweek.
It's amazing how quickly things can change, Emery's side were riding high just a few weeks ago, but now face a must-win match against Burnley. The Clarets are struggling themselves, though, sitting 18th and in the drop zone before play commences this weekend. Can Sean Dyche's side pull off another upset?
Arsenal 0-2 Tottenham (League Cup)
Arsenal were knocked out of the Carabao Cup in the quarter-final stage by arch-rivals Tottenham on Wednesday night but they started the brighter of the two sides. However, an excellent ball from Dele Alli put Heung-Min Son through on goal and the Korean doesn't miss chances like that, Spurs going 1-0 up.
From there, the Gunners were chasing the game, and Spurs were counter-attacking with real danger, Moussa Sissoko wasting a great chance late in the first half. Harry Kane came on from the bench in the second half and the striker turned provider as he floated a perfect ball over to find Alli in space and the latter finished with aplomb, a superb chip that left Petr Cech helpless.
Arsenal's blank on the night wasn't for lack of trying, but they were wasteful with their opportunities, Alexandre Lacazette coming closest in the second period when he hit the post from around the six-yard box.
Tottenham 1-0 Burnley (Premier League)
Tottenham scraped past Burnley at Wembley in what was, in the end, a deserved win for Mauricio Pochettino's side. Spurs remain third with the victory and continue to be the closest challengers to both Manchester City and Liverpool at the top of the Premier League.
Lucas Moura, Dele Alli and Heung-min Son all came close, and Harry Kane was denied what looked like a clear penalty, but the match remained scoreless for the most part. Joe Hart had a superb game in goal for the Clarets, the pick of the saves coming in the 90th minute from what seemed to be a certain goal by Erik Lamela.
That appeared to be the last chance, but Christian Eriksen, fresh from the bench, latched on to a Kane through ball to calmly finish into the net.
Shkodran Mustafi, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin are all out meaning that Unai Emery is short on defensive options and that Granit Xhaka could well deputise at centre-back once more.
However, with Laurent Koscielny fit again, he should be at the centre of defence alongside Sokratis. The only change elsewhere should be Stephan Lichtsteiner returning at right-back but don't rule out Sead Kolasinac or Lacazette starting from the off.
No such injury issues for Sean Dyche, a full bill of health for his squad and I'm predicting just two changes, Chris Wood in for Ashley Barnes up front and Matt Lowton in for Phil Bardsley at right-back.
Wood will add height to the attack, while Lowton has some searing pace down the right side, something that will compliment Aaron Lennon on the wing and provide a real handful for Lichtsteiner.
Key Player: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Burnley will sit back and defend for the majority of the game, that's how they approach almost every away game in the Premier League. Arsenal will have to outplay their opponents if they're to win and an early goal would be a huge help to the Gunners' chances.
The most likely man to score is striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, as he possesses both rapid speed and the skill to beat a player or two. Burnley will have to keep him quiet if they're to have a chance of taking any points back to Lancashire.
Arsenal to Miss Out on Top 4?
There's still half the season to go, but there's genuine concern that Arsenal will miss out on the top 4 once again. After failing to qualify for the Champions League for the last two seasons, Emery's main goal will be to return to Europe's top club competition and that's going to be a real challenge this campaign.
Manchester City and Liverpool are already out of sight and Chelsea and Tottenham's form is also good, so it might come down to winning the Europa League.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Burnley
Burnley will put up as much of a defensive fight as possible, but Arsenal will be desperate to win and they will breach the visitor's backline, especially with the pace their side possesses.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alex Iwobi will be huge threats for the centre of the Clarets' defence and the pair will inevitably get chances with the service they'll receive.
Burnley could get a goal on the counter-attack, especially with the pace down their right side but I can't see this being anything other than a Gunners win.