Arsenal vs Burnley Preview: Arsene Wenger bids farewell to the Emirates

Arsenal vs Burnley Preview: Arsene Wenger bids farewell to the Emirates

Both sides are guaranteed Europa League football next season but one club will be much happier than the other.

chris-lincoln
Chris Lincoln

It is somewhat synonymous with how the Arsene Wenger era has concluded that the longest serving Premier League manager in history waves Au Revoir to the Emirates with a fixture against Burnley as the sides battle for sixth and seventh.

Once a dominant force in English football, Arsenal have slipped almost 40 points away from the league leaders, a gap that is wider than the difference between the Gunners and the bottom of the table.

606 and out

Sunday's fixture marks the 1,700th of Wenger's managerial career and his 1,233rd with Arsenal. After gracing the Emirates' home dugout for almost 12 years, emotions are set to be running high as the Frenchman takes his seat for the last time in a competitive match. It will be his 606th home game for the Gunners.

The question for the Arsenal players is how committed they are to sending their esteemed manager out on a high. After being knocked out of the Europa League during the week, Arsenal's season is as good as over. Europa League football is guaranteed for 2018-19 with only a final position of sixth or seventh to be confirmed after another disappointing season for the Gunners fans.

In contrast, Burnley have enjoyed one of the best seasons in their history. Everton's draw with Southampton ensured Europa League football is also a certainty for the Clarets. However, sitting three points behind Arsenal, who have a game in hand, makes finishing sixth a distant possibility and it would be easy for Sean Dyche's side to take their foot off the accelerator after such a successful campaign.

 

More late heartbreak ahead?

Burnley have a tough task ahead if they are going to keep the race for sixth alive. Arsenal have only lost two of their last 25 home Premier League games and have won their last seven in all competitions against the Clarets. You have to go back a decade since Burnley last beat Arsenal.

The Gunners have netted at least two goals in all five of their most recent meetings with Burnley, winning the last four after being level at half-time with the previous three decided during injury-time. Considering Arsenal have scored three goals in six of their last seven home games and Burnley have hit that figure just twice all season, Dyche will have to batten down the hatches at the Emirates.

Yet neither side is in emphatic form going into this contest. Burnley have picked up just two points in their last three and Arsenal are only one point better off in the same period. The visitors may also be buoyed by the fact they have won three of their last four away fixtures, the same number as Wenger's side have won on the road all season.

Burnley to park the bus?

The home side are bolstered by a fresh Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his movement and pace will test a Burnley defence much more comfortable with a physical battle, particularly in the likely absence of Ben Mee. Mesut Ozil also has a point to prove after being criticised during the week.

Chris Wood picked up a foot injury last weekend which could force Dyche into playing a 4-5-1 as he looks to congest the final third and prevent Arsenal from playing between the lines where they are most effective.

Mohamed Elneny and Laurent Koscielny miss out for the hosts whilst Scott Arfield and Jon Walters are also like to be absent for the visitors.

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