Arsenal take on Burnley at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, with both teams looking to bounce back to winning ways in the Premier League.
The Gunners’ unbeaten streak in the Premier League came to an end at Newcastle United in controversial fashion last weekend, but they showed character to bounce back by beating Sevilla 2-0 at home in the Champions League on Wednesday evening. The win over Sevilla means Mikel Arteta’s side will qualify for the Champions League knockout rounds with a point from either of their final two group matches against Lens or PSV.
Burnley, on the other hand, head to north London in a bid to end a four-game winless run. The 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace last weekend left the Clarets 19th in the standings and only above Sheffield United on goal difference. However, they can take some comfort from the fact that all four of their points this season have come on the road.
With both clubs keen to go into the November international break on a high, here are the key battles that could determine the outcome of this encounter.
#Leandro Trossard vs Burnley centre-backs
As Eddie Nketiah missed out with an ankle knock to join Gabriel Jesus on the sidelines, Leandro Trossard led the line for Arsenal against Sevilla in midweek. The diminutive Belgian eased worries about Arsenal’s forward strength with his goal and performance, and proved he is ready to play the role again if needed.
Standing in front of Trossard will be Burnley centre-backs, Dara O’Shea and Jordan Beyer. Burnley have the second-worst defensive record in the division, and given Arsenal’s potency going forward, the omens are against Vincent Kompany’s men once more. So, the centre-back pairing of O’Shea and Beyer have to bring their best performances to keep Trossard at bay as well as help Burnley keep a clean sheet.
#Declan Rice vs Sander Berge
Declan Rice’s start at Arsenal has been nothing short of sensational and he enjoyed another stellar display against Sevilla. For the overwhelming majority of the game, he boasted a 100 per cent pass completion rate and ran the show from the middle of the park. Undoubtedly, the Englishman stands as one of the players that could trouble Burnley in this clash given his outstanding level of expertise.
Sander Berge and his fellow Burnley teammates will have to be extra cautious of Rice’s ability to drive forward with the ball and release passes in the final third from anywhere. Stopping the Arsenal midfield maestro from getting space and time on the ball too much would be on Berge’s mind throughout, and if done so successfully should increase Burnley’s chances of getting a positive result at the Emirates Stadium.
#Luca Koleosho vs Ben White
Luca Koleosho’s performances have been a rare bright spot in an otherwise torrid campaign for Burnley so far. The teenager has impressed since being signed from Espanyol this summer, with Kompany showing faith by constantly handing him opportunities on the flanks.
The Italy Under-20 international is once again expected to start on the left flank, and Kompany will hope to see the youngster causing problems for the Arsenal backline. So, Ben White will have his work cut out. White has been a mainstay in the Gunners’ defence, offering energy, overlapping runs and width from right-back.
However, he isn’t as quick as Koleosho and may struggle in a footrace with him, and as a result, the England international must bring his experience to the floor to nullify the Burnley winger’s threat on counter-attacks.