DRAWING DRAWING ARSENAL
A point gained or two dropped? Whatever your view on the merits of this particular stalemate, it's true that draws have been front and centre this season. We're the first team in Premier League history to draw as many as 13 of our first 25 league matches in a season, and the first in the top flight since Manchester United way back in 1980/81. You have to go even further into the archives - 1948 - for the last time we drew five straight away games in the league. The positive spin on all that is that we're still unbeaten in all competitions in 2020 (P7 W3 D4 L0) - but Mikel Arteta will want those draws translated into wins as soon as possible.
It beggars belief that Sunday's game ended goalless. As Burnley fans filtered out of Turf Moor they were still scratching their heads over how Jay Rodriguez hit the bar instead of the back of the net from six yards. That old classic, "he hit it too well" was being trotted out in the press box where reporters were equally incredulous. But as Arteta pointed out, the game could already have been over if we'd taken our own gilt-edged chances in the first 13 minutes. Alex Lacazette almost always snaffles close-range headers but he guided a golden chance wide from Aubameyang's cross. They don't come along often against a side as well-drilled as Burnley. Unfortunately, Auba misfired too. Usually so reliable in one-on-one situations, he screwed his right-foot shot wide to give Burnley an enormous let-off. This was only our second goalless draw in our last 84 Premier League games - but it really shouldn't have been.
It says a lot about his progress this season that we really missed Bukayo Saka after he succumbed to injury. Our in-form left back has more assists in all competitions than any other Arsenal player this season, and his first 25 minutes at Turf Moor demonstrated why. Silky skill to beat Lowton earned us an early free-kick, and a whipped cross for Aubameyang had pace and accuracy. Saka was a real threat, pushing on as that fifth offensive player when we had the ball. But after completing all of his passes - and three crosses from open play - Saka went down and needed treatment. He never fully recovered and his half-time exit made us less dangerous. "He's been a threat for us and, in the way we planned the game, we thought we could exploit them with him," said Arteta afterwards. "He did really well when he was fit but I think in the last 10 to 15 minutes he was carrying his injury. He had a knock in his knee and his hip, so we will see.
Mesut Ozil reached a notable milestone on Sunday - his 250th appearance for us. He now sits in 73rd position on our all-time appearances list, one place and one appearance behind Nacho Monreal. Olivier Giroud is also in Mesut's sights - he left us after 253 games. Ozil’s debut came against Sunderland on September 14, 2013 and - predictably - he is way out in front of his teammates when it comes to assists. Ozil has 71; Hector Bellerin is a distant second on 25. Ozil didn't mark this milestone with a masterclass but there were bright moments while we dominated the early stages. One shot almost led to a goal for Lacazette and there was one delicious flick to get away from his marker. That was as good as it got and Ozil ended up frustrated, not least with a yellow card for complaining about being penalised for a high boot.
Copyright 2024 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.