Arsenal faced Burnley at Turf Moor for an early Saturday kick-off.
The last time the 2 sides met was earlier on when Arsenal were in dismay and lost 1-0, which kickstarted Burnley’s season.
Burnley find themselves 6 points off the relegation zone, while Arsenal would be 7 points off top 4 with a win today.
Arsenal have a very good record against the Clarets, not losing in 20 years at Turf Moor – so they would be distinct favourites.
With a few tough fixtures coming up and European places so tight, nothing other than 3 points can be accepted for Arsenal.
The away side make 2 changes from Leicester. Ødegaard comes on for Smith Rowe, Willian retains his place while Saka returns for Pepe.
Captain Aubameyang comes in for Lacazette after the 3-1 win at Leicester.
Pepe has started most games recently and Arteta seems to prefer Willian in tight spaces – hence the decision to start him.
Thomas Partey starts as well in place of Elneny, while Chambers makes his first start in over a year – great to see him back.
Gudmonsson comes back in for Burnley, who have Mcneil as the tricky player otherwise their traditional 442.
It is obvious how this game will go – Burnley sit deep, Arsenal try break it down.
Burnley had played midweek so may feel more tired than the gunners who have a week’s rest – which could be decisive.
A big game for Arsenal to rack up another 3 points while Burnley desperately need points to move up the table, away from the relegation zone.
5 minutes in, a great bit of play from Xhaka and Partey to get out the press, a forward ball to Willian who drove and laid it off to Aubameyang, who cut in and squeezed it home.
Very good from the Gabonese and a great start, but Pope may feel disappointed to get beat at his near post.
Partey showing his press resistant self to start the attack and provide the space for Arsenal.
Arsenal had all the play first half and created some great chances to extend the lead.
Saka poked wide after good play from Aubameyang, unfortunately Saka also couldn’t take the ball in his stride.
Aubameyang also had a chance but couldn’t adjust his feet in time, to give Arsenal that 2-goal cushion they deserve after a dominant display.
Burnley continued to press high up, as just before the break a calamity happened after Arsenal should’ve doubled their lead with Saka.
Leno could boot it long but plays it to Xhaka, who tries to play a hospital pass with his weaker foot across goal.
It is intercepted by Wood for an absolute gift of a goal. All the hard work undone just like that.
Burnley now have optimism for this 2nd half, where they’ve been far inferior.
Honours even at the break when it should be 3 or 4-0. All to play for.
Burnley as expected played with more confidence, being resilient defensively to deny Saka twice.
The second half was very scruffy which suites Burnley, as Arsenal have all the ball and Burnley sit deep.
Burnley were on top for the first 30 minutes or so as Arsenal struggled to get into the game.
Saka was skating on thin ice after a few fouls committed while on a booking but stayed on the pitch and wasn’t subbed off.
Could turn out to be poor decision making with Spurs next.
Leno made a few great saves to keep the game level such as the Wood close range effort.
The last 10 minutes were just breath-taking.
Arsenal truly upped the urgency, as Pepe got into the box, tried to put the ball in but substitute Pieters handled it clearly to stop it.
It looks the most blatant penalty but somehow isn’t given. Confusing.
After a bit of interchanging on the left, the ball was drilled into Pepe who volleyed it brilliantly but was blocked off the line.
The red card was given and a penalty, as it was deemed a denial of a goal scoring opportunity but upon replay it came off the shoulder of Pieters.
Some of the most enticing last 5 minutes you’ll ever watch, as Mee blocked Aubameyang’s shot.
Constant Arsenal pressure, particularly in stoppage time. Tierney drilled a ball into Saka, who mis hit, and another shot was blocked, which fell to Ceballos who bent it only on to the post.
So unfortunate, truly frustrating for the Gunners as another 2 points are dropped.
At the end of the day, we should’ve won by multiple but weren’t clinical, should’ve had the clearest penalty and an individual error has cost us.
Man of the match:
Burnley defended brilliantly 2nd half. From an Arsenal point of view, there were quite a few great performances.
Aubameyang was very proactive and got the goal – making some great runs in behind. His linkup with Saka was good, as he was Arsenal’s best player – mainly in the 1st half.
Willian was good again, getting the assist from Aubameyang’s goal and driving with the ball effectively – proving useful against deep blocks.
Defensively we were comfortable, and the pivot worked very well bar the shocking mistake.
Ben Mee got it according to BT which is fair after his defensive contributions.
Leno – 7.5
Chambers – 6.5
Luiz – 6.5
Mari – 6.5
Tierney – 7
Xhaka – 6.5
Partey – 7
Willian – 7
Ødegaard – 6.5
Saka – 6
Aubameyang – 8
Ceballos – 7
Lacazette – 6.5
Pepe – 6.5
What next for Arsenal?
Arsenal welcome rivals Spurs to the Emirates.
The game is next Sunday at 4:30pm on Sky Sports.
Spurs came out winners last time, but this is a very competitive Arsenal side and a very big game for both teams.
Hopefully Arsenal can avoid individual blunders – to get one over their rivals which could be decisive in the league as they can’t afford any more slip ups in the race for Europe.
Score prediction: 2-1 Arsenal.
Thanks for reading as always, hope you enjoy.
featured image credit Arsenal