Hello and welcome to Sports Mole
's live text coverage of the Premier League meeting between Burnley
at Turf Moor. The Clarets are on their best run
of top-flight form since 1975, winning three games in a row to climb level on points with their opponents in the table, with victory for either side this afternoon enough to take them into the top four of the division.
The Gunners have been far from perfect on their travels, though, winning just twice away from home so far this term, while the Clarets boast a pretty formidable record at Turf Moor - one defeat in six here for them, although they have performed just as well on their travels. That says a lot about the work Sean Dyche
has done during his time in Lancashire but, if recent reports are to be believed, he may well be on his way out of the club sooner rather than later.
BURNLEY TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Ward; Gudmundsson, Hendrick; Cork, Defour, Brady; Barnes
SUBS: Wood, Vokes, Westwood, Long, Arfield, Bardsley, Lindegaard
Starting with a look at the home team, Dyche has gone with an unchanged XI on the back of last weekend's 2-0 win over Swansea City. That is not at all surprising, as the Clarets have made fewer changes than any other side in the division this term, making just nine in all, and only 17 players have been used - again, a league-low tally. Dyche certainly has a settled XI, essentially throwing five men in midfield and using Ashley Barnes - and not Chris Wood - up top.
The omission of Wood is very much the big talking point as far as Burnley are concerned, with the New Zealand international missing out for the second match running. Wood was overlooked for selection against the Swans because of fatigue, having travelled across the world to represent his country, but he was expected to return to the fold for this visit of Arsenal. That is not the case, though, and Barnes - a scorer last weekend - has another chance to impress.
Dyche is without Jonathan Walters and Dean Marney because of knee injuries, but he otherwise has a full group to choose from. Jack Cork was also on target in the straightforward win against Swansea last weekend, ending a run of 43 matches without a Premier League goal in the process, and he will man central midfield today alongside Steven Defour. Robbie Brady and Johann Gudmundsson will provide creativity from the wide positions, meanwhile, and Jeff Hendrick will also have to offer some attacking support.
ARSENAL TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Cech; Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Iwobi, Sanchez; Lacazette
SUBS: Ospina, Mertesacker, Coquelin, Wilshere, Maitland-Niles, Welbeck, Giroud
Just one change made by Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
from last weekend's 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur - or a full 11 from the midweek defeat to FC Koln, if you'd rather - as Mesut Ozil makes way for Alex Iwobi. That is an enforced change, with the Germany international - at his creative best in that victory against North London rivals Spurs - missing out on the squad entirely this afternoon due to illness.
Danny Welbeck was given 45 minutes in Germany three days ago on his return from injury. Wenger revealed after the match that it was always his intention to withdraw the England international at half time, allaying any fears of a fresh injury problem, and he will surely play some part from the bench at Turf Moor. Olivier Giroud is also among the back-ups, as is midfielder Jack Wilshere as he is again made to settle for a place on the bench.
Wenger has stuck with Alexandre Lacazette up top, with the summer signing boasting six goals in 12 Premier League outings since arriving from Lyon. The loss of Ozil is a huge blow for the Gunners, of course, but they still have Alexis Sanchez
to provide the ammunition and Iwobi can also provide something a little different when running at opposition defenders. Further back, Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka occupy central-midfield berths.
The big team news from Turf Moor is that Mesut Ozil, a key player in the 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, misses out on selection for Arsenal due to illness. Alex Iwobi is therefore handed a starting role in attack, while Burnley remain unchanged from their 2-0 victory over Swansea City on the same day.
Saturday proved to be a good day for both of these sides, as each of the three sides above them who were in action dropped points. Chelsea and Liverpool drew at Anfield, while Spurs were surprisingly held at home by West Bromwich Albion. That means that victory for Arsenal or, as incredible as it sounds, Burnley, will lift them above Liverpool and Tottenham into fourth place with more than a third of the campaign played.
That's right - Burnley are very much in contention for a European spot at this moment in time. It may not last, but supporters have every right to be excited as things stand as their players are holding their own against the division's elite, earning 22 points from the first 36 on offer. Three more today and they really will be in dreamland, sitting above each of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham.
Dyche has tried his best to play down expectations, although that task is getting more and more difficult by the week. They may be within touching distance of the top four, but Premier League survival remains the priority for the Burnley boss, with the 40-point mark likely to be achieved with a good few months of the season to play at this rate. Dyche did say, though, that fans have every right to get excited about their side's current form.
Burnley have won three games in a row for the first time in their Premier League history, seeing off Newcastle United, Southampton and Swansea with a clean sheet in all three. They have a nice run of fixtures to come, too, prior to facing Spurs and Man United either side of Christmas. The Clarets have already faced Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Man City away from home, making their current standing all the more impressive.
DID YOU KNOW?
Only Manchester United (6) and Manchester City (7) have conceded fewer goals than Burnley's nine, keeping a clean sheet in half of their fixtures so far. In fact, the Citizens are the only team to score two or more goals against Sean Dyche's men in their last 19 fixtures - a 3-0 defeat for the Clarets at the Etihad Stadium on October 21. Arsenal will certainly not find it easy to find a way through this afternoon!
Burnley are on their best run of top-flight form since 1975 with those three wins in a row, lasting putting together more victories between October and November 1968 when winning six in succession. Extending that streak by a further match today will be an almighty task, as they come up against a Gunners side high on the back of a 2-0 win at home to Spurs eight days ago.
There have been just three goals scored in this fixture at Turf Moor in the last four encounters - one for Burnley and three for Arsenal. The Clarets have kept a clean sheet in six of their last nine games, coinciding with Nick Pope's promotion between the sticks, and just seven goals have been scored in six games here - fewer than any other ground. It all points to this being a tight match.
Arsenal will not exactly care how they get the job done, as long as they leave Lancashire with all three points. The Gunners are currently sixth in the table, one point behind Liverpool and two behind Spurs, both of whom have played one game more. It is hard to ascertain what exactly a good league season would be for the North London outfit this term, but surely winning the title - ending their long-running drought in the process - is already well out of the question.
The Gunners have still yet to match Burnley in winning three-successive league matches this term, as they struggle to find any sort of momentum. They did see off Spurs last time out in the top flight, however and now have winnable fixtures against Burnley and Huddersfield Town in the next few days that they really need all six points from. That is because Man United visit the Emirates Stadium next weekend in a huge showdown between Arsene Wenger
and Jose Mourinho - always tasty!
Arsenal have lost four, drawn one and won one of their six away matches in the Premier League this season - only three sides have performed worse heading into this latest round of fixtures. They also went down 1-0 to Bundesliga basement boys FC Koln in a disappointing midweek display; again using the Europa League group stage as a change to heavily rotate the squad and give fringe players - Wilshere and Giroud among them - a chance to stake a claim.
Despite the abject second-half performance in Germany, it was still a case of job done for Wenger as his side as they made certain of top spot with a game to spare - good luck building up that BATE home clash in two week's time! Their focus is now on the Premier League and EFL Cup between now and the New Year, with West Ham United to visit here just before Christmas in the quarter-finals of the latter competition.
The away record certainly needs improving on, though, having collected just 17 points from 16 matches in 2017 - five wins, two draws and nine defeats. The good news for Arsenal is that they have won all five matches that Sanchez and Lacazette have started together, meaning that even in the absence of Ozil they still have a real chance of breaking Burnley down and taking three valuable points back to the English capital.
It is fair to say that Arsenal have a stronger squad than ever this season, as highlighted by the full 11 changes made by Wenger between Premier League and Europa League matches, but it is becoming increasingly tougher to keep the likes of Wilshere and Giroud happy. Both players know that, even if they perform brilliantly on Thursday nights, they will still more than likely find themselves on the bench come the weekend.
Arsenal have scored 24 headed goals in the Premier League since the start of 2016-17 - five more than any other side - so Burnley have to prevent crosses coming into the box this afternoon. The Clarets, for what it's worth, have played some really nice football at times this term and find themselves in the lofty height of seventh place on merit. This is very much a no-lose game for them; even defeat will keep them a point above closest challengers Watford.
Burnley are winless in nine league games against Arsenal since 1974, including all six Premier League fixtures during that time. The Clarets did win an EFL Cup fourth-round tie nine years ago, however, and it took 90th-minute goals to snatch all three points away from them in both games last season. A 98th-minute goal at the Emirates Stadium in January, in fact, after Andre Gray netted 93 minutes in.
A real chance for Arsenal to claw themselves into the top four of the division this afternoon, then, which would be a welcome boost for Wenger a week before the visit of Man United. The title is not a realistic target, sitting 12 points behind a near-perfect Man City side, but they will be expected to challenge for second place at the very least. As the campaign progresses, the Europa League may then take priority.
Sean Dyche: "It is an opportunity to measure ourselves against one of the top clubs in the division. It's about building on what we have been doing and so far we have been doing well with that. There is no exact measurement - beyond the result, it is about how you are performing against the most powerful teams over a season. It is about the bigger picture and how the team is moving forward on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis."
Arsene Wenger: "Of course they are the surprise package because if you asked before the season 100 people 'will Burnley have 22 points at this stage in the season?' Ninety would have said no and the 10 others would have been Burnley supporters. You know they've won games with 30, 25 per cent possession - that means they know what they want to do and are patient to have that killing instinct of a snake."
Dyche wants his players to test themselves against one of the division's strongest sides, then, much like they did against Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool when collecting five points from nine. Only Man City in October have brushed aside the Clarets this term, scoring three unanswered goals at the Etihad Stadium in another sign of just why they are one of the finest sides on the continent right now. A similar effort is required from the Gunners today.
Wenger knows full well that his side have to be on top of their game to overcome the season's "surprise package", meanwhile, with victory today imperative if the Gunners are to have any sort of hope of challenging Man City at the top of the division. A reminder of the team news for you - Burnley remain unchanged from their 2-0 win over Swansea City; Arsenal bring in Alex Iwobi for the ill Mesut Ozil following last week's 2-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur.
KICKOFF! We are up and running in this lunchtime Lancashire kickoff, where the hosts have made a fairly positive start. Jeff Hendrick, tasked with supporting Ashley Barnes in the forward line, nearly latched on to a ball over the top.
Burnley play the ball out from the goal kick and work it down the left. A great touch from Brady to keep the attack alive and, after offloading to Gudmundsson, Ramsey was forced into making a challenge around 28 yards from goal.
Brady lofts the free kick into the ball, aiming for Mee and Tarkowski, but it was an Arsenal head that got to the ball first. Gudmundsson then crossed the ball towards the back post, where Barnes could not quite reach the ball.
Plenty of crosses into the Arsenal box already, all of which the visitors have dealt with. Home fans certainly encouraged by what they have seen so far, however, sensing that another big scalp could be on the cards this afternoon.
Sanchez with his first sight of goal, but he fails to make the most of the opening as he drags the ball wide. A good cross into the box at the other end, where Monreal blatantly shoved Barnes over, though the offside flag came to his rescue.
The Clarets have been the better side so far, and would have had a penalty for that Monreal infringement had the offside flag not gone up - the Spaniard breathed a sigh of relief. Arsenal have barely put an attacking move together so far.
Lacazette caught offside just inside the Burnley half, showing just how high the Burnley line is. No doubt that they have been the better side in the opening 13 minutes, without yet being able to test Petr Cech in the opposition goal.
OFF THE POST! Great play from Burnley, as Barnes laid it off to Hendrick, who in turn picked out Gudmundsson. The Icelandic attacker got the better of Bellerin and then smashed the ball against the post - Cech appeared to get a fingertip to it.
YELLOW CARD! Brady with a nasty challenge, which he is lucky to escape with just a talking to. Defour was booked a couple of minutes ago for dissent after the referee failed to award a corner for that impressive Cech save at his near post.
CHANCE! From absolutely nowhere, Arsenal take Burnley apart to create the best chance of the match so far. Lacazette got away from Tarkowski down the left-hand side and picked out Ramsey, who could only direct his first-time shot wide of goal from close range.
SAVE! Mustafi with a huge block in front of goal to deny Defour, who may well have found the net with his drive. Cech then made a big stop to keep out a Burnley header at the back post, as the hosts close in on an opener.
Bar one bright moment when Lacazette picked out Ramsey in the middle, Arsenal have offered nothing so far in an attacking sense. Burnley have created a few chances and should probably be ahead with a third of the game now played.
YELLOW CARD! Brady goes right through Iwobi and is rightly cautioned, having earlier got away with an even stronger challenge. Arsenal win themselves a corner, which Brady inadvertently flicks on for Monreal to rifle a shot narrowly wide from 25 yards.
Just not quite happening for Sanchez and Arsenal at the moment, as they struggle to get going in Lancashire. Burnley have looked for more composed in possession and have also mixed things up with some long balls into the area.
Sanchez finds the ball at his feet inside the box, but Tarkowski came out on top in that personal battle. Just a sense that Arsenal are slowly starting to grow into the match a little more now, with an hour still to go at Turf Moor.
That really was an impressive piece of defending from Tarkowski to thwart Sanchez. The Chilean's first touch took him close to goal, but he could not get past the Burnley centre-back with his second touch as the shooting chance passed him by.
Lacazette is unhappy after the referee blew his whistle when he was breaking through on goal. Lee Mason felt that the Frenchman nudged Jack Cork off the ball, which replays show was the right call from the man in the middle.
Brady with another corner, which was meant for Mee near the back post, but Cech could easily pluck the ball out of the air. Sanchez visibly frustrated now as the game continues to go on around him, having so far been given little to feed off.
SAVE! Burnley win a free kick in a glorious shooting position, around 27 yards from goal. After a bit of jostling in the wall, Brady sent the ball towards the top corner where Cech was able to push the ball aside in a fairly routine manner.
Arsenal with a chance to hit Burnley on the counter, which they rather make a mess of. The Gunners have been very disjointed this afternoon and remain second best on the basis of the 39 minutes thus far in Lancashire.
Burnley's weak penalty shouts rejected by Lee Mason - again, appeared to be the correct call after Sanchez used his chest to control the ball, rather than his hand. Iwobi with some nice interplay in the final third, but the move comes to little.
Half a chance for Kolasinac, who can only glance the ball wide of Nick Pope's goal. Ramsey's wayward shot 19 minutes in remains the closest Arsenal have come to a breakthrough in a first half that looks likely to end goalless.
We have played one added minute of time at the end of the first half, but another couple will now be added on as Ramsey has been down receiving treatment for quite some time. The Welshman landed awkwardly, but should be able to shake it off.
HALF TIME: BURNLEY 0-0 ARSENAL
Referee Lee Mason brings a goalless first half to a close. Burnley have been the better side, hitting the post and forcing Petr Cech into a couple of smart saves, while Aaron Ramsey wasted the Gunners' best opening of the half. All to play for in the second 45!
Burnley looked the better side in the first half, coming closest to making a breakthrough when Johann Berg Gudmundsson
got the better of Hector Bellerin and sent a powerful shot back off the post. Petr Cech got a touch to the ball on its way through, and he was also required to keep out a back-post header and a Robbie Brady free kick from 30 yards.
The closest Arsenal came to breaching Nick Pope's goal in the opening 45 minutes arrived midway through, with Aaron Ramsey arriving late in the box to guide Alexandre Lacazette's cross wide of the target. Nacho Monreal sent a shot wide from further back, meanwhile, but the Gunners - minus illness victim Mesut Ozil today - appeared to be lacking in ideas.
BURNLEY SUBS: Wood, Vokes, Westwood, Long, Arfield, Bardsley, Lindegaard
ARSENAL SUBS: Ospina, Mertesacker, Coquelin, Wilshere, Maitland-Niles, Welbeck, Giroud
RESTART! We are back under way at Turf Moor, where neither manager has made a change at the half-time interval. Wenger will be hoping for an improved showing over the next 45 minutes, with fourth place up for grabs.
Iwobi does well to pick out Sanchez, who drives towards the Burnley goal before returning the ball back out wide. The cross appeared to hit Sanchez and then Mee on its way behind, but the officials felt otherwise and awarded a goal kick.
Disappointing from Barnes, who is played through one-against-one with Koscielny. The striker knew he lacked the pace to charge through, though, and instead laid the ball off. The momentum soon died and Arsenal got enough men behind the ball.
BLOCK! Mee puts his body on the line to get in the way of Sanchez's goalbound shot. The Chilean maybe could have pulled the trigger slightly earlier, but he took a second too long and Mee was able to keep the ball out.
I make this the first save that Burnley keeper Nick Pope has had to make all afternoon, getting down to keep out Lacazette's rather tame attempt from 20 yards out. Arsenal the side asking more of the attacking questions now.
The Gunners certainly enjoying more prolonged spells on the ball now, but Tarkowski and Mee are standing their ground well. Kolasinac managed to get a shot away inside the box, where Mee was again waiting to throw his body in the way.
Wenger will be much happier with his side's performance in the opening 15 minutes of the second half. Look far livelier compared to the first half and are now really starting to push their opponents back deep in their own half.
SAVE! A powerful drive from Gudmundsson is well kept out by Cech, who got down low and got his whole body behind it. It was the Czech's ability to keep it under control that was most impressive, with Burnley players waiting to pounce.
Both managers may be tempted to make a change around about now. Arsenal the side in control, without really creating too much, while Burnley have both Sam Vokes and Chris Wood to provide fresh legs up top. Lacazette shoots narrowly wide.
SHOT! Ramsey with little to work with, but he still managed to get a shot away that did not trouble Pope. Prior to that, Xhaka produced a superb tackle to halt a counter-attacking Gudmundsson in his tracks - had to get that perfect.
Wilshere appears to be about to come on, with England boss Gareth Southgate watching on from the Turf Moor stands. The game has gone a little flat over the past few minutes, with Arsenal still the side seeing far more of the ball.
ARSENAL SUB! Here comes that first change of the afternoon, then, as Wilshere replaces Iwobi for the remaining 22 minutes. A well-timed challenge from Brady prevents Bellerin from picking out a teammate from the byline.
SHOT! Wing-back Kolasinac fails to spot Ramsey alongside him in the box, instead flashing the ball right through the congested area. Up the other end, Brady had a shot blocked and Defour smashed the follow-up attempt wide of the target.
We are into the final quarter of the match and there is no real sign of a breakthrough. A tight match was expected and that is exactly what we have seen play out, but there is still plenty of time for one of these sides to win it.
Disappointing from Ramsey, who initially did well to drive at the Burnley defence but then attempted a near-impossible through-ball for Lacazette, which was easily cut out. Still just the one change made by both managers combined so far.
Yet another penalty appeal, this time after the ball hit Koscielny's hands. Would have been extremely harsh had referee Lee Mason pointed to the spot, though, with Brady's challenge on Bellerin the strongest of the numerous shouts.
Chris Wood is ready to come on for Burnley. I expected Dyche to make the change a little earlier, with his side desperate for an out ball, and the arrival of the New Zealand international will certainly provide the hosts with something a little different.
SUBS! Confirmation of that Burnley change - Kiwi striker Wood has come on, but it is Defour and not Barnes who has made way. Welbeck has also been introduced late on, taking over from Lacazette in the Arsenal frontline.
CLOSE! Wilshere prods the ball goalwards after being picked out by Sanchez 18 yards from goal. The ball took a wicked deflection on its way through and, thankfully for the rooted Nick Pope, ended narrowly wide of the target.
Arsenal required late goals in both league fixtures against Burnley last season, remember, so this one is not over just yet. Get the sense that the Clarets would take a point now, even if Dyche has rolled the dice slightly by bringing on a second striker.
Burnley have a chance to float the ball into the box from a deep free kick. Disappointing delivery from Brady, though, with the ball overhit and ending in the hands of a grateful Cech. Four minutes of normal time left for one of these sides to win the match.
Another shot in the Burnley box is blocked before it can reach Pope's goal. The Gunners the side looking the more likely to find a late winner, but they have not truly warranted a goal on the basis of the 88 minutes we have witnessed so far.
Just two minutes of added time to be played at Turf Moor - a ground that has seen fewer goals than any other in the Premier League. Arsenal have struggled to create clear-cut openings all afternoon - can they change that with 120 seconds to play?
PENALTY TO ARSENAL!
Yet more late drama in this fixture! Tarkowski with a shove on Ramsey and Sanchez now has a chance to surely win the game form the penalty spot.
GOAL! BURNLEY 0-1 ARSENAL (ALEXIS SANCHEZ, PEN)
A fine Sanchez penalty in the second minute of added time to surely rescue all three points for the Gunners. This fixture always tends to come to life late on! Burnley now have just 30 seconds or so to find a response...
FULL TIME: BURNLEY 0-1 ARSENAL
A dramatic conclusion at Turf Moor, then - not for the first time in a meeting between these two sides! Burnley have yet again fallen just short against the Gunners, meaning that they remain in seventh place, now three points behind their opponents.
That concludes Sports Mole
's live text coverage of events at Turf Moor. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here
, while updates from the meeting between league leaders Manchester City and Huddersfield town can be followed here
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