Arsenal v Burnley, Premier League, March 6, 2010
Arsenalâ€™s win over Stoke last week has meant the Gunners are yet again being talked of as title challengers. (Arsenal are 14/5 to win the Premier League.) Having already been written off on at least four occasions this season (following their four defeats to Chelsea and Manchester United) Arsene Wengerâ€™s side can return to the top of the table, albeit briefly, with a victory over one of the worst sides in the Premier League.
Aaron Ramseyâ€™s horror injury took almost all the headlines and the week following the 3-1 win at the Britannia has been dominated by comment over the intentions of Ryan Shawcross. Needless to say, the Welsh playmaker will miss this match as well as probably the rest of 2010, but his influence will have a part to play.
Emmanuel Eboue told the Arsenal website that â€œBurnley is a very difficult game for us, we know that. But we will try our best to win it for Aaron Ramsey.â€ And a giant banner is set to be unveiled by Gunners fans at the Emirates saying â€œOne Aaron Ramsey.â€
Leaving Ramsey and Shawcross aside, there has been a particular line of thought in recent days which has seen Arsenal predicted as title winners due to their late win at Stoke. The draw at Birmingham two seasons ago where Eduardo was on the receiving end of a similar challenge from Martin Taylor and Arsenal could only draw compares favourably with events last Saturday.
Instead of a sulking captain (William Gallas), Cesc Fabregas scored a penalty and set up the third against Stoke and whilst at St Andrews the Gunners were pegged back to draw, this time Arsenal won late on and showed character which this side has not been known for. Crucially, Arsenalâ€™s run-in looks relatively easy on paper and with Chelsea and Manchester United still to play each other at Old Trafford, belief appears to be gathering within the Gunners squad.
Alex Song misses this game due to suspension but Abou Diaby may return from injury. Arsenal face Porto on Tuesday looking to recover from 2-1 down in the first leg so Wenger may well rest a few players for the Champions League match. Like many teams, it is difficult to see Burnley keeping Arsenal out for long. Nicklas Bendtner has scored three in his last three matches and Theo Walcott will also be eager to impress after failing to grab his England chance with both hands. (Arsenal are EVS to win both halves.)
Burnley simply look like lambs heading to the slaughter. (Burnley are 19/1 to keep a clean sheet.) The Clarets are second bottom and still havenâ€™t recovered from the departure of Owen Coyle to Bolton. Last weekâ€™s home defeat to Portsmouth appears to have been a real opportunity missed and is indicative of their recent poor form. (Burnley are 4/9 to be relegated.)
In particular their away record in 2009/2010 is just woeful. Thirteen defeats and one draw says it all whilst 43 goals conceded away from Turf Moor is a damning statistic. In their last two away matches they let in eight at Fulham and Aston Villa and their defending at Villa Park was schoolboy stuff.
Brian Lawsâ€™ two main injury worries surround Scottish pair Steven Fletcher and Graham Alexander. The former Hibernian striker broke a bone in his hand whilst on international duty and his fitness is key as he has shown this season that he is capable of scoring against Premier League defences. (6/5 that both teams will score, 5/8 against.) On loan Chelsea defender Jack Cork has impressed in his two appearances so far and could also be one to stem the tide.
Burnley can point to a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor in December as proof that they can live with Arsenal but their defending has been so woeful in away games that it would be a major surprise if Brian Jensen isnâ€™t beaten at least three times (21/20 to be over 3.5 goals) and probably more on Saturday.
101gg predicts: Arsenal 5 â€“ Burnley 0 (17/1)
Full match odds here.