By Rob Kelly at Emirates Stadium
Arsenal scored two fine goals to secure their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup at the expense of a hard-working Burnley side.
The first, from Calum Chambers, saw the right back arrow a curling shot into the top corner, before the visitors equalised through Sam Vokes.
Alexis re-established the lead in the second half when he got on the end of a sweeping counter-attack and that was enough to see off the Clarets.
The visitors had settled quickest into the game as Andre Gray twice went close inside the opening 10 minutes, but gradually the Gunners started to move through the gears.
They took the lead in stunning fashion when Chambers collected the ball inside the box and directed a delightful shot into the roof of the net with the outside of his boot.
But Burnley soon equalised when Vokes took advantage of some hesitant defending to power a header beyond David Ospina.
Arsenal retook the lead in thrilling fashion when they broke at pace through the effervescent Alex Iwobi, before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain delivered for Alexis to fire in from 10 yards out.
There was also an encouraging debut for Mohamed Elneny, and returns for Francis Coquelin and Tomas Rosicky to encourage Arsene Wenger after a tough run of results.
Arsenal’s bid for a third successive FA Cup continues apace, and having returned to winning ways, there is plenty of cause for optimism heading into February.
SETTING THE SCENE
The last time Burnley visited the Emirates in the FA Cup, back in March 2009, the Gunners ran out comfortable 3-0 winners - and after a difficult January, they were hoping for a repeat performance this time around.
Wenger’s side won by the same scoreline on the Clarets’ last visit here nine months ago, with Chambers and Alexis - the goalscorers that day - among nine changes to the Arsenal side for this FA Cup fourth-round clash.
Perhaps the most notable was the inclusion of new signing Elneny for his debut at the base of the midfield, partnering Francis Coquelin, in for his first start since sustaining a knee injury against Norwich in late November.
Only Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny - named captain for the day - survived from the side who lost to Chelsea last weekend, while Nigeria international Alex Iwobi was handed a third start.
Burnley may have lost their last five FA Cup ties against Arsenal, but their red-hot form in the Championship marked them out as dangerous opponents - especially with Andre Gray leading the line.
The Clarets forward - a boyhood Arsenal fan - had scored 17 goals prior to this game as Sean Dyche’s side had risen up to third position in the second tier, and after four successive wins, they were riding high on confidence too.
The visitors immediately displayed the self-assurance that comes with a winning run as they passed the ball about slickly, fashioning the first chance when Vokes found Gray in the box but the forward flashed his shot wide.
The Gunners responded immediately as Oxlade-Chamberlain drilled a drive over the bar seconds later as the game got off to a surprisingly open start.
Indeed, Burnley might well have taken the lead with nine minutes on the clock when Gray barged Koscielny off the ball on the right touchline and raced through on goal.
The Clarets striker had Vokes charging up in support but, with Ospina sharply off his line to narrow the angle, chose to go it alone and saw his poked effort pushed away by the Arsenal goalkeeper.
It was a real let-off for the hosts, who gradually settled into the game with Iwobi in particular catching the eye with some neat touches and incisive running.
Wenger’s side started to assert their dominance, pushing Burnley on to the back foot as they looked for a chink in the armour - and they soon had their reward.
Chambers’ only senior goal prior to this game was when he scored against the Clarets in April - but you wouldn’t know it having seen the quality of his finish here for the opener.
The 21-year-old collected a pass from Alexis to the right of the box in the 19th minute, took a look up and fired a delicious shot into the far corner with the outside of his right foot.
It was a moment a real quality, but despite the goal advantage Arsenal could not quite shake off the visitors, who continued to make life difficult as their 4-4-2 formation caused problems.
Vokes and Gray were a particular threat, and it was the former who levelled the scores on the half-hour mark when he rose highest in the area to divert a firm header beyond Ospina.
Oxlade-Chamberlain sliced a shot wide soon afterwards after more good work from Iwobi, but it remained finely balanced heading into the interval.
Having impressed with his attacking prowess during the opening 45 minutes, Iwobi soon showed his defensive qualities at the start of the second half.
The Nigeria international had to be really alert to get a crucial foot on the ball in his own area to deny Gray from close range.
Burnley continued to threaten and, moments later, Scott Arfield raced into the area and tested Ospina with a low drive.
Arsenal needed to sharpen up - but sharpen up they did, as they re-established the lead.
It came from a sweeping counter-attack involving Iwobi, Giroud and Iwobi again before Oxlade-Chamberlain cut the ball back across goal for Alexis to slam into the top corner.
It was a fabulous Gunners goal, and they came close to adding a third soon afterwards when Koscielny’s close-range header was cleared off the line by Mee.
Elneny had shown in the first half that he was not afraid to have a pop at goal, and he stung Tom Heaton’s hands just after the hour mark with a firm drive from just outside the area.
It was an encouraging debut for the Egyptian, who assumed the box-to-box role of Aaron Ramsey, rather than the more defensive positioning of Coquelin.
Both sides continued to press on, but the Gunners held firm to continue their bid for a third successive FA Cup.
Referee: Roger East
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