Arsenal will go in search of their eight successive Premier League win when they visit relegation battlers Burnley on Saturday. Arsene Wenger’s side are the undoubted form team in England, having overcome a sluggish start to the season to climb into second place in the table and all but secure a place in the Champions League for the 18th consecutive season. Talk of a far-fetched title challenge has even been mooted, despite Arsenal remaining seven points behind leaders Chelsea having played a game more. Wenger continues to insist he is not looking too far ahead, and is simply focusing on continuing his own team’s improvement.
“The target of the work during the season is that your team becomes always stronger and we still have many challenges until the end, of the season” he said in his pre-match press conference. “It’s interesting that we are in good form and it’s interesting that we have a good team dynamic. Hopefully we can maintain that until the end of the season, then we will see where we stand.
“We look behind us and people are chasing us, in front of us there’s quite a big distance with Chelsea but we work very hard to reduce that. They have a difficult schedule, we have a difficult schedule. What we can only do is master our own schedule. What we want is to go as high as we can until the end of the season, give our best.”
Arsenal have been boosted ahead of the trip to Turf Moor by the availability of Jack Wilshere. The midfielder has been absent since last November, but is now in contention to feature on Saturday along with fellow long-term absentees Mathieu Debuchy, Mikel Arteta and Abou Diaby. Wenger does, though, have a concern over the fitness of Laurent Koscielny, who was forced off with a thigh injury in the 4-1 victory over Liverpool last weekend.
Few, if any, teams have been more consistent in the naming of their lineup than Burnley in the Premier League this season. And Sean Dyche looks set to stick with the same XI that recorded a goalless draw at home to Tottenham last Sunday. That result kept Burnley in the relegation zone, where they have been throughout their debut season in the Premier League. Despite their meager budget, however, they remain well within touching distance of safety, with just two points separating them from 17th placed Hull City. And manager Sean Dyche continues to be upbeat about his side’s chances of beating the drop.
“We’ve found clarity before in very big games and on big occasions,” he said, according to Burnley’s official website. “We’ve got seven big occasions coming but we can only take them one at a time and the next one is Arsenal. I’m confident in what we do, I don’t view all the others as it is not relevant to me. I’m, absolutely confident, wholeheartedly, that we can achieve our goals this season.”
Prediction: Burnley have scored just once in their last five matches, and are going to need the likes of Danny Ings to start finding the net again if they are to survive. Yet, with Arsenal solid of late, that looks unlikely to happen on Saturday. Arsenal haven’t been as impressive away from home, even on their recent winning run, but they should have the required quality to break through Burnley’s resistance.
Predicted score: Arsenal over Burnley, 2-1
Kickoff time: 12:30 p.m. EDT
TV channel: NBC
Live stream info: NBC Sports Live Extra