Both sides notched valuable wins in their previous games, with an assured display from the Clarets earning them a 2-0 win over Watford on Monday, while Arsene Wenger commemorated the 20th anniversary of his appointment as Arsenal manager with a scintillating 3-0 victory against Chelsea.
That win over the Hornets for Burnley was their second three-point haul of the season and, with that victory over Liverpool still fresh in Clarets fans’ minds, they will be baying for the blood of another big scalp when Arsenal arrive in East Lancashire.
Burnley last beat Arsenal eight years ago, when a brace from ex-Clarets midfielder Kevin McDonald knocked the Gunners out of the FA Cup in the fifth round. However, a last league success over the North London outfit came way back in 1974, when manager Sean Dyche was just four years old and Arsene Wenger was still carving out a playing career in his native France.
Unsurprisingly, Arsenal have had the upper hand in this fixture recently, winning four of the last six meetings between the clubs in all competitions. That run includes two FA Cup wins – both at the Emirates Stadium – with the latest coming as recently as January this year when, despite being in the Championship, Burnley were narrowly beaten 2-1.
But goals have been thin on the ground in this exact fixture of late, with only three goals scored across as many games: two in Arsenal’s favour, and one for Burnley. Sunday’s clash could conceivably be just as tight.
Burnley skipper Tom Heaton tops the charts for saves made this season, with a league-high 26 stops suggesting that, while being busy, the 30-year-old has been dependable when called into action.
Heaton’s aptitude at shot-stopping is just as well, given the Clarets face the third-highest scoring side in the league and, within that, the joint second-highest goalscorer in Alexis Sanchez. Three of the Chilean’s four league strikes this season have come on the road, and he will inevitably remain a threat against Burnley on Sunday.
The Gunners also possess two players in the league’s top ten for assists, with Santi Cazorla recording two and Alex Iwobi contributing directly to three. Not to be outdone, Burnley’s Steven Defour has also recorded three assists, with two of those coming in his last appearance at Turf Moor. Set-pieces could well be crucial for the Clarets against their visitors.
Sean Dyche may opt for the same team that performed with such intensity against Watford, with Sam Vokes spearheading the attack effectively on his own in the enforced absence of Andre Gray, who will serve the second of a four-game ban against Arsenal.
Elsewhere, striker Ashley Barnes continues to battle towards full fitness.
For Arsenal, Danny Welbeck and Per Mertesacker continue to be long-term absentees, with Francis Coquelin and Olivier Giroud also ruled out. The winning goalscorer the last time Arsenal travelled to Burnley, Aaron Ramsey, will also be unavailable.