Preview: Arsenal v. Burnley
After an emotional victory last weekend at the Britannia, Arsenal enter the final 10 matches of the league season riding high on a wave of momentum. The Gunners entertain Burnley for our second home 3 o'clock Saturday kickoff in a row! I can't believe football actually used to be played at this time every weekend.
Normally after International breaks, I worry that the team won't be organized and motivated to face lower league opposition, but I don't reckon that will be a problem this weekend. There is a nineteen year old boy laying in a hospital bed with his right leg in a plastered cast that will make sure this team is ready to go.
Here is King Emmanuel Eboue on that very subject.
'After the [Stoke] game we didn't see Aaron because he went straight to the hospital,' the King told Arsenal.com. 'I am so, so disappointed about what happened. Sometimes in football these things happen but we want to play always for him.
'Burnley is a very difficult game for us, we know that. But we will try our best to win it for Aaron Ramsey.
'The result against Stoke was good for us and we will try our best to give everything on the pitch when we play.'
Arsenal Team News:
Arsene will be forced into making three changes. Besides the obvious absence of Aaron, Sol Campbell and Alex Song will also be missing from the team that started against Stoke a week ago. With Gallas still not completely fit and Djourou being another couple of months away from returning, Mikael Silvestre will slot in alongside Thomas Vermaelen. Wenger rated Diaby as 50/50, but Abou won't be risked with Tuesday encounter with Porto looming on the horizon. Thankfully Denilson and Arshavin will available for selection.
Predicted Starting XI: Almunia, Sagna, Silvestre, Vermaelen, Clichy, Denilson, Rosicky, Fabregas, Eboue, Nasri, Bendtner
Player to watch: Nicklas Bendtner
With three in his last three for club and country, could Bendtner be hitting title winning form? I realise that is an exaggeration, but the big man has played pretty well since his return from over three months out. He could be just what we need to push us over the top.
Burnley Team News:
Burnley have already been talking about roughing us up a little. I understand a team like Burnley can't expect to come to the Grove and match our football stride for stride, but considering recent events, do you honestly have to speak about this to the press? Ricardo Fuller said the same thing before Saturday's match.
Brian Laws will hope to have Graham Alexander and Steven Fletcher available for the trip to North London. The Scottish duo have a calf pull and broken hand, respectively.
Steven Caldwell and Chris McCann are will definitely miss the match.
Possible Starting XI:Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Cort, Fox, Bikey, Elliott, Alexander, Blake, Fletcher, Paterson.
Player to watch: Wade Elliot
Burnley's most regular midfielder this season had an excellent match back at Turf Moor in December. Once Fabregas limped off, he and Alexander ran the show in the midfield.
Match Facts & Stats
Burnley lost in their only previous visit to the Grove 3-0 in the FA Cup fifth round on 8 March 2009
Cesc Fabregas needs only one goal to equal the club record tally scored by a midfielder in a Premier League season: Robert Pires scored 14 goals in three consecutive seasons (2002-03, 2003-04 and 2004-05)
Having lost their last 8 away league games, Burnley has the worst away form in the all the English leagues, earning just one point from 14 matches. The Clarets have conceded two or more goals in all bar one of those games.
Also, Burnley have the worst defensive record in the top flight, conceding 55 goals.
Alan Wiley will be the head official for this match.
I'm going to go with a 4-0 win for the home side, which will see Arsenal temporary go top of the table thanks to goals scored.
9/3 (Tue) - FC Porto (h) - Champions League
13/3 (Sat) - Hull City (a) - Premier League
20/3 (Sat) - West Ham (h) - Premier League