Arsenal recorded only their third win of the season by beating Sunderland 2-0 at the Stadium of Light last weekend.
The Gunners were helped by some defensive errors and the results means they have now won twice as many away from the Emirates. That will likely all change on Saturday when they host bottom-of-the-league Burnley.
Burnley are the only side without a victory so far this season and have picked up only four points from their first nine matches – already five adrift of safety. Sean Dyche’s side have shipped 12 goals in their last four games.
Arsène Wenger is without centre-back Laurent Koscielny and right-back Mathieu Debuchy once again this weekend. The big defensive news of the week is that Kieran Gibbs heads into this game as a doubt. The makeshift Arsenal defence kept a clean sheet at Sunderland last weekend and the Gunners will be sweating on the fitness of the defender with Wenger already down to his bare bones at the back.
Mesut Özil, Serge Gnabry and Abou Diaby all remain absent in midfield but Jack Wilshere is back after suspension. Arsenal are spoiled for choice with options in their five-man midfield. Theo Walcott could also make his return this weekend.
Yaya Sanogo is back in contention after recovering from injury but the French striker will not replace Danny Welbeck up front. Olivier Giroud remains sidelined.
For the visitors, Matt Taylor has been a long-term injury and Sam Vokes has been out all season. Steven Reid who has played very little for the Clarets this season is also out with an injury.
Arsenal may stick with the same lineup that won at Sunderland. Arsène Wenger doesn’t have any option in defence. Alexis Sánchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can take the game to Burnley with their pace, strength and dribbling ability. Aaron Ramsey is a goalscoring midfielder, Santi Cazorla doesn’t score too frequently any more but is still a threat and playmaker. Danny Welbeck should see opportunities also.
Sean Dyche employs a 4-5-1 formation. Look for Burnley to stuff the midfield to prevent the threat down the middle but they need to be careful outside, particularly on their left where Oxlade-Chamberlain will be supported by Calum Chambers overlapping from right-back.
Alexis Sánchez vs Michael Duff
Arsène Wenger lined up up his big summer signing successfully in the centre of midfield as he went on to score both goals at Sunderland last weekend. Alexis Sánchez was basically on hand to take advantage of errors from Wes Brown and Vito Mannone though. Should Sánchez play in the centre again he should still have success. Burnley have been leaking goals and the protection in front of the back four has not been sufficient. The Chilean can play between the lines, find space, run at defenders and generally cause havoc on Saturday. The likes of Sánchez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere who like to run at players should have a good day in general.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain vs Ben Mee.
Burnley left-back Ben Mee has been owned a few times already this season and should he come up against Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain you can expect a man of the match performance from the Arsenal midfielder. The England international offers pace and strength wherever Wenger lines him up across midfield. Last weekend it was on the right which would be a good place to keep him at the Emirates this weekend.
Aaron Ramsey vs David Jones
The Welsh international has only just returned from injury but could certainly use this game to get back on the scoresheet. Aaron Ramsey makes clever runs into the penalty area to get into goalscoring opportunities and against Burnley you’d expect that to be no different.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Burnley
Arsenal have thrashed Aston Villa this season and Burnley offer the opportunity for another comfortable victory. Winless at the Emirates in the league since the opening day of the season, another less than cruise control would be a shock in this one even if they have been far far short of the Arsenal of old this season. Yes, they relied on defensive howlers from Sunderland to score, but this Burnley defence is porous and the team in general already look like they’re heading back down to the Championship.