Sean Dyche is looking forward to one of the season’s ‘big games’ as his in-form Clarets prepare to take on Arsenal at a sold-out Turf Moor.
Burnley have already faced four of the Premier League’s top six this season – losing only once to run-away leaders Manchester City.
The sixth-placed Gunners – level on points with the Clarets – will add to that list of high-profile opposition on Sunday (kick-off 2pm) with Dyche ready to embrace another special occasion.
The Burnley boss said: “They are a fine side with a brilliant manager.
“We have spoken many times about the big challenges throughout a season.
“They can come in all different ways in the Premier League, as we know.
“But it’s fair to say there’s a group of clubs at the very top who will always be looked upon -or certainly in recent times be looked upon - as the main big games of the season.
“I think Arsenal, without a shadow of doubt, fit into that, and particularly at Turf Moor.”
Dyche’s side could hardly be going into the game in better form, having chalked up three successive League wins for the first time as a Premier League club.
The Clarets have not conceded a goal in that run and Dyche knows his defensive unit will have to remain fully switched on to try and secure a first top-flight win over Arsenal since 1974, after twice going close to taking points from Arsene Wenger’s men last season.
“You have to stay focused all the time, that’s the biggest thing, because they can pounce and hurt you at any time,” Dyche added.
“We were unfortunate last season, the two games, home and away. I thought we played very well in both and two big decisions went against us.
“I’m really pleased with how the team is performing at the moment.
“But there is still a lot of work to be done and we continue to work at the details in our performances.”
Dyche’s analysis of Arsenal’s threat echoes Wenger’s view of Burnley’s abilities, with the long-serving Gunners’ boss claiming the Clarets have the ‘killing instinct of a snake’.
“They are the surprise package because before the season if you asked 100 people if Burnley would have 22 points at this stage of the season, 90 would have said no - and the 10 others would have been Burnley supporters,” Wenger said in his media briefing ahead of the game.
“So overall they have done extremely well. They benefit as well from the fact that Sean Dyche has done an outstanding job, but also from the stability in their team. They know each other for years now and that is why they are a difficult proposal for anyone now.
“Turf Moor is a very difficult place to go for everybody. I believe that their capacity to be efficient with a restricted possession as well [is a big strength].
“They have won games with 25 per cent or 30 per cent possession. That means they are calm, they know what to do and they are patient with that killing instinct of a snake. They put you to their face and then they bite you.”
Chris Wood will be back in the Clarets’ squad after missing last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Swansea following long-distance World Cup duty with New Zealand.
Jon Walters is stepping up his return, although is not yet in full training, while Dyche is pacing Dean Marney’s comeback from long-term injury.
“Deano is doing great. He’s in front of the timescales,” said the Burnley boss.
“I spoke to him this week about bearing in mind that he is in front of the timescales so don’t be in a crazy rush to get back. He’s training with us full-on all the time now.”
Arsenal – who picked an entirely changed starting line-up for their Europa League defeat in Cologne on Thursday night – are without England international Theo Walcott and midfielder Santo Cazorloa as they seek only a second away league win of the campaign.