Having extended our unbeaten run to eight matches in all competitions, as well as four consecutive league victories, it’s fair to say that Arsenal are beginning to build momentum with the month of October having begun this weekend.
After the season started in frustrating fashion with a home defeat against Liverpool, the Gunners have shown tenacity in tough situations to come away with good results from matches that haven’t been particularly comfortable throughout.
Despite this though, Arsène Wenger is right to warn his side against complacency – with his 20-year anniversary a common theme – as the boss is eager to banish suggestions he has underachieved over the past decade given the lack of impressive silverware.
In Arsène’s pre-match press conference, he confirmed some early team news. Olivier Giroud, who has only made three substitute appearances in the Premier League this term, is still unavailable for selection. The 30-year-old striker isn’t expected to feature for the first-team until after the upcoming international break, which is the same situation as Aaron Ramsey (hamstring).
Francis Coquelin (knee) has been described as “looking much better than expected”, after being pictured in first-team training again. Despite this though, he’s not expected to be included in the matchday squad for Sunday’s away trip to Turf Moor.
“What I have learned in my job is to focus on the next game. It [celebrating 20 years at Arsenal] can disturb a bit but it will not.”
“It looks like we have moved forward in the quality of our game. We have found a good balance between attacking and defending.”
Despite questions over his future continue to rumble, especially with the mutual decision to terminate Sam Allardyce’s contract as England boss, Wenger has reiterated his intention to confirm his future at the end of the current campaign. On whether there will be a 25th anniversary, Wenger said: “I don’t know, I rule nothing out because I want to work but it can end tomorrow. It’s a love story.”
As previously mentioned, Wenger revealed the latest team news ahead of our away clash with Burnley. Francis Coquelin (knee) is back in training but not yet ready for a swift return to competitive action after sustaining an injury in the 3-0 victory over Chelsea last weekend.
As a result, Granit Xhaka is expected to start alongside Santi Cazorla in midfield. Olivier Giroud (toe) and Aaron Ramsey (hamstring) are both unavailable for selection, but are expected to make returns after the impending international break.
David Ospina was utilised in the 2-0 win over Basel during midweek, but isn’t expected to feature against Sean Dyche’s side with Petr Cech more than likely set to be recalled into the starting eleven.
Possible XI (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bellerín, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Cazorla, Xhaka; Walcott, Iwobi, Özil; Alexis.
Burnley have started the season in unspectacular fashion but see themselves six games in with seven points, which is no disgrace for a newly-promoted side. After an impressive 2-0 victory at home against Liverpool in August, questions over their top-level suitability were effectively silenced – but they’ve struggled for form otherwise.
Ahead of Sunday’s game though, Sean Dyche’s side picked up a morale-boosting win over Watford on Monday. Goals from Jeff Hendrick and Michael Keane were enough to seal the Clarets’ second league win of the season, and they’ll be hoping for more of the same again in-front of their home support.
Steven Defour, signed in the summer from Anderlecht, has already showed his quality and boosted Burnley’s midfield quality ten-fold. The 28-year-old Belgian, who has a goal and three assists in five Premier League appearances, is one of Burnley’s best creative threats in the final third.
In the absence of Andre Gray, who was given a four-match ban after tweets of a homophobic nature from 2012 were uncovered, the likes of Sam Vokes and potentially Patrick Bamford (season-long loan, Chelsea) will be expected to step-up in the frontline as they know goalscoring opportunities could come at a premium. If they start well, spurred on by their home supporters, Arsenal players will have to expect a battle before they can travel back to London with all three points.
Possible XI (4-1-4-1): Heaton; Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward; Marney; Gudmunsson, Hendrick, Defour, Boyd; Vokes.