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The first time we played Arsenal in the Premier League we drew 1-1 at home. Cesc Fàbregas opened the scoring for the Gunners before Graham Alexander equalised from the penalty Spot. The hugely impressive Fàbregas then, thankfully went off injured, and we were denied a winner when Steven Fletcher’s goal was wrongly ruled offside.

Since, in ten more games in this league, we’ve failed to pick up a solitary point. Sometimes we’ve been beaten and fully deserved to be, but there have been other occasions when we were clearly denied by some poor decisions in stoppage time, and I mainly refer to three successive games, both in 2016/17 and the home game in 2017/18. All of those games should have ended in draws but all ended in defeat because of incorrect decisions that went in Arsenal’s favour.

They are one of only three teams we have played league football against in the Sean Dyche era we are still to beat; the other two being Peterborough and Sheffield United who we have only played once each.

We are going into the game with more confidence than might have been the case when we stepped onto the pitch against Leicester a fortnight ago. At the time we’d lost the previous four league games and there were concerns as to where the next point was coming from.

Nick Pope had an outstanding game that day and then kept a clean sheet at Manchester United. The goalkeeper who Matt Murray said today on Sky should be in goal for England, kept an eighth clean sheet of the season at Old Trafford and is now  looking forward to facing Arsenal.

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He spoke about playing at home and wanting to make it more difficult for visiting teams. “We want Turf Moor to be an intimidating, tough place to come,” he said. “That’s what it has been historically down the year sand that’s what we want to maintain. As players we take pride in that and the fans take pride in that as well.”

He added: “I go away with England and the lads mention about Turf Moor being a tough place. They mention about not wanting to come to our place and that’s what you want to hear. You want to get amongst them and make sure they know they’ve been in a game and it will be like that for the Arsenal game.”

Pope has been first choice throughout the season having missed out on last season’s Premier League through injury and then the form of Tom Heaton in the second half of the season. He grabbed his chance this season when getting in ahead of Joe Hart and hasn’t missed a game in the league.

He will be certain to start tomorrow although again we have two influential players ruled out. Ashley Barnes is recovering from hernia surgery. He’s doing well but some way from playing yet and again we are without Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson. We half expected him back at Old Trafford, were certain he’d feature in the FA Cup but he missed both and Sean Dyche has ruled him out of tomorrow’s game.

Phil Bardsley is fit again after missing the last league game with the back injury he sustained against Leicester. That will be a decision for the manager. Bardsley has been in good form but Matt Lowton came in and did really well at Manchester United.

We do have one name to add to those available with Thursday’s signing of Josh Brownhill. I’m sure he won’t start but there is every chance of him being on the bench having taken the number eight shirt worn in the first half of the season by Danny Drinkwater.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t start with the same eleven who kicked off against Manchester United. If so, the team will be: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Jay Rodriguez, Chris Wood. Subs from: Joe Hart, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Ben Gibson, Erik Pieters, Josh Brownhill, Aaron Lennon, Robbie Brady, Matěj Vydra.

Arsenal have been under new management since just a few days before Christmas with Mikel Arteta swapping the Etihad for the Emirates having been Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City. He took over an Arsenal side that were 10th in the table. They now sit in 12th place, two places above us with the same number of points.

Under Arteta they have played seven Premier League games., kicking off at his former club Everton where they drew 0-0. He’s only won one game, that a 2-0 win against Manchester United, but has only been on the losing side once in a 2-1 home defeat against Chelsea. The other five games have been drawn which includes all his four away games in charge with Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Chelsea following Everton on the road.

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He’s made just two signings in the last week with both of them defenders and coming in on loan. Pablo Mari (pictured above) arrived from Flamengo and he was followed by Cédric Soares from Southampton. Central defender Mari could feature but full back Cédric is unlikely too. Arteta said he is being assessed but has a little issue and doesn’t think he’ll be available.

They will also be without Shkodran Mustafi, Kieran Tierney, Calum Chambers and Reiss Nelson while Sead Kolaŝinac is a doubt but they will welcome back both David Luiz and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who have now completed suspensions.

Their draw at Chelsea a week last Tuesday was their most recent Premier League game and they lined up: Bernd Leno, Héctor Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz, Bukayo Saka, Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, Nicolas Pépé, Mesut Özil, Gabriel Martinelli, Alexandre Lacazette. Subs: Emiliano Martinez, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Mattéo Guendouzi, Joe Willock, Dani Ceballos, Eddie Nketiah.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

There was nothing to play for. It was the final game of last season and we took the game to the Gunners in what proved to be a goalless first half although we were very definitely unfortunate not to go in at the interval with a lead, more so given we were denied yet another clear penalty when Bernd Leno decided to barge Ashley Barnes and the assistant, who had a good view, ridiculously advising the referee to card Barnes.

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We carried that on in the first few minutes of the second half but then Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did what he’s done so often against us, he scored twice. The first saw him benefit from a Ben Mee mistake but then he got his second with a superb volley.

Two minutes later we were back in it with Barnes finishing. We threatened more than once to get an equaliser but it was Arsenal, deep into stoppage time, who got the last goal with Eddie Nketiah making it 3-1.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jeff Hendrick (Robbie Brady 82), Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil (Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson 64), Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood (Peter Crouch 77). Subs not used: Joe Hart, Kevin Long, Stephen Ward, Matěj Vydra.

Arsenal: Bernd Leno, Stephan Lichsteiner, Shkodran Mustafi, Konstantinos Mavropanos (Laurent Koscielny 34), Nacho Monreal, Mohamed Elneny, Mattéo Guendouzi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Joe Willock (Eddie Nketiah 62), Alex Iwobi, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Subs not used: Petr Cech, Sead Kolaŝinac, Granit Xhaka, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Alexandre Lacazette.

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