Arsenal v Burnley
Saturday August 17, 12:30
Live on BT Sport
Depleted Arsenal roll back the years
When Arsenal's prospects for the campaign were being discussed, there wouldn't have been many people mentioning the old adage of '1-0 to the Arsenal'. However that was the case on Sunday against Newcastle in their opener, as they kept a surprising clean sheet.
The Gunners did well to win at St James' Park as they were without a host of first team players. Pepe, Ozil, Lacazette, Luiz, Tierney, Kolasinac and Holding were either not in the squad or only ready enough for the bench. Not all of them will be back on Saturday, but I expect Pepe, Lacazette and Luiz, in particular to be in the starting XI.
A man who did start in the north-east was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and last year's top scorer got his season underway with a goal. He looks sure to challenge again for the Golden Boot this year, and he will have fond memories of facing Burnley. The former Dortmund striker has faced them three times and scored braces against them on each occasion.
Clarets make a strong start
Sean Dyche's side struggled last season, but they had Europa League commitments in the opening weeks, and never really recovered from a bad start. Friendly results went well over this summer though, and they exceeded expectations on the opening Saturday by thumping Southampton 3-0.
Ashley Barnes netted twice, and his strike partnership with Chris Wood could well fire them into the middle of the table this year. Nick Pope is back to being the number one keeper, and Erik Pieters slotted in well at left back. Jay Rodriguez could only make the bench, but he will get plenty of game-time this year, as Burnley aim to improve on their 45 goals from 2018/19.
Given that they won, and in fine style at that, against the Saints, it's hard to imagine that the manager will tinker with his line-up for the trip to the Emirates. An unchanged side wouldn't surprise at all.
Home win but expect goals
On the Betfair Exchange the hosts are trading at around the 1.341/3 mark (at time of writing), with the draw at 6.05/1 and the away win at 11.010/1.
Since their promotion back to the Premier League, Burnley have lost every single match against Arsenal. They have faced them eight times in the league and once in the FA Cup, so it's not too small a sample size.
Last year, Unai Emery's side enjoyed a pair of 3-1 victories over the Clarets, with Aubameyang scoring twice in each, and Ashley Barnes getting the consolation for Burnley on both occasions.
Therefore, even though the availability of Mesut Ozil and Saed Kolasinac remains in doubt, I can't see anything other than a home win.
Odds of 1.341/3 hardly inspire though, but I do like an Arsenal win and both teams scoring at around the 2.8615/8 mark. It was the case on both games last season, and despite the arrival of Luiz and Tierney, the Gunners' defence is hardly watertight.
Trends point towards four plus goals
This match has goals written all over it to me. The Betfair Layers are of the same mind too as Over 2.5 is 1.664/6, while Under 2.5 is 2.466/4.
Arsenal may well have won 1-0 at Newcastle, but last season their matches averaged 3.26 goals each time - which was the second highest in the Premier League.
A total of 22 of their 38 fixtures had at least three goals, with Over 3.5 goal backers collecting an incredible 17 times. They averaged over two goals per game themselves at the Emirates, while keeping only seven clean sheets.
Burnley are normally associated with low-scoring affairs, but they netted three against Southampton, and last year their matches actually averaged 2.97 goals per 90 minutes - the sixth highest in the division.
Like Arsenal, 22 of their 38 had three goals or more, and they too had plenty go Over 3.5 - 16/38 to be exact. Considering their 15th place finish, they did well to still score 21 goals away from Turf Moor, and they have carried over their end of season improvement into this one.
Opta is also on our side when it comes to the goal argument as among all teams to have featured in more than two Premier League campaigns, Burnley have conceded more goals-per-game in away games vs London clubs than any other side (2.3 - 61 goals in 27 games). The Clarets have taken just one point from their last 21 available in the capital (W0 D1 L6).
Goals should be on the agenda again this Saturday lunchtime, and I am backing Over 3.5 at odds of 2.747/4.