Post-Match Report

Arsenal 2-1 Burnley - Match report

Burnley -

Emirates Stadium
Premier League
Premier League
  Arsenal
      
                  Mustafi (59)
                   Alexis (90 pen)
            
   crest
Arsenal
Mustafi (59)
Alexis (90 pen)
2 1
  Burnley
      
              Andre Gray (90 pen)
          
   crest
Burnley
Andre Gray (90 pen)

By Rob Kelly at Emirates Stadium

SUMMARY

A 98th-minute penalty by Alexis secured a hugely-dramatic victory against Burnley that moves us up to second in the Premier League table.

As the game entered the seven minutes of injury time, the 10-man Gunners - Granit Xhaka had been sent off for a lunge on Steven Defour - were having to hold on to the lead given to them by Shkodran Mustafi.

But it looked like we would be denied the victory we had worked so hard for when Jon Moss awarded the Clarets a penalty for a Francis Coquelin trip on Ashley Barnes.

Andre Gray kept his cool to convert from the spot and it appeared that we would have to settle for a highly-frustrating draw.

But in almost the last kick of the match, Alexis swung in a cross from the left that arrowed towards the far post, where Ben Mee caught Laurent Koscielny in the face with a high boot.

Moss awarded Arsenal the penalty and Alexis, showing incredible composure, sent a panenka down the middle from the spot to seal a precious victory.

There are sure to be many more twists and turns in this title race, but surely nothing will compare to the drama on offer on this chilly afternoon in north London.

SETTING THE SCENE

Having seen their title rivals all drop points the day before, this match offered a big opportunity for the Gunners to make some headway at the top of the table.

Burnley seemed like inviting opponents too, with a huge discrepancy between their form at Turf Moor and what they have produced on the road this season.

The Clarets had only secured one point away from home - albeit at Old Trafford - and arrived in north London having lost six of their past seven matches against Arsenal.

But Arsene Wenger was not leaving anything to chance, and named an unchanged side from the one that beat Swansea City so convincingly the previous weekend.

It meant Gabriel continued at right back - although Hector Bellerin was fit enough to be named on the bench - while Olivier Giroud was hoping to continue the form that had seen him bag 11 goals in his last nine starts.

Francis Coquelin and Kieran Gibbs were also back in the matchday squad, having recovered from the respective hamstring and knee problems that had seen them miss out recently. 

FIRST HALF

With the Emirates bathed in brilliant sunshine on a crisp winter’s day, it was the perfect afternoon for Premier League football in north London.

Burnley were to make the livelier start, but the match soon took on a familiar hue as Wenger’s side pinned the visitors back into their own half for extended periods.

Alexis, with three goals and an assist in his previous two home games against the Clarets, was typically high-energy, while Mesut Ozil was soon smoothly moving through the gears too.

In fact, it was the German who was first to test Tom Heaton as he collected Alex Iwobi’s cut back and sent a skidding shot towards the far corner - only for the Burnley keeper to push it away.

Petr Cech, by comparison, had been untroubled until this point but was soon called upon to turn away a sharp effort from Ashley Barnes as the game began to heat up.

Ozil twice had efforts blocked in the area as the home side continued to probe, but Sean Dyche’s side, having proven themselves so obdurate during the game at Turf Moor in October, were proving difficult to break down again.

Koscielny looped a header over the bar, before Alexis let fly from distance and then, moments later, curled one just past the far post but there was no way through before the interval.

Once again, the Gunners would have it all to do in the second half of a game. 

SECOND HALF

Having been frustrated for the opening 45 minutes, the Gunners came racing out of the blocks after the restart, with Aaron Ramsey soon going close with a hooked effort from close range.

Alexis then whipped a shot inches over the bar as the hosts began to lay siege to the Burnley goal, but still the visitors continued to hold out.

Patience was required, and there was not much more that Wenger’s side could do as they sought to break down a resolute Clarets side who were having to contend with wave after wave of pressure.

Finally, the dam broke just before the hour mark as Mustafi darted to the near post to meet Ozil’s corner, directing it expertly across the area and in at the opposite corner for his first goal in Arsenal colours.

The World Cup winner is yet to taste defeat in Arsenal colours, and his aggressive style of defending has quickly made him a fan favourite. This strike will only cemented his place in the hearts of Gooners everywhere.

But just when it seemed to be going to plan, Xhaka’s red card - for a lunge on the far touchline that caught Defour - provided a twist that we did not need.

For not only did it put us at a numerical disadvantage fort the last 25 minutes, but it also means the Swiss international will miss the next four games for his second red card of the season.

Cech soon had to be alert to push a Defour free kick over the bar, while a late scramble in the Arsenal area had hearts in mouths around the stadium.

Substitute Coquelin came close to breaking his duck for the club as the game entered the last minute, only for Heaton to make a fine save.

The announcement of seven additional minutes of injury time did nothing for the nerves inside the Emirates, and the last twist arrived as referee Jon Moss awarded Burnley a penalty that Gray converted.

It was a cruel twist to a hugely frustrating day for Wenger’s side, but there was to be one last, decisive act as Moss awarded the hosts a penalty for a high boot by Mee in the Burnley area.

Alexis may have been nervous, but there was certainly no sign of it as he chipped his spot kick down the middle to spark jubilant scenes inside the Emirates.

What a win, and what drama. Phew.

Referee: Jonathan Moss
Attendance: 59955