Match Report: Arsenal 3 – 1 Burnley

Arsenal (1) 3 Burnley (0) 1
Premier League
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Saturday, 22nd December 2018. Kick-off time: 12.30pm
(4-2-3-1) Leno: Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Monreal, Kolašinac; Elneny, Xhaka; Guendouzi, Özil, Aubameyang; Lacazette,
Substitutes: Čech, Lichtsteiner, Ramsey, Torreira, Iwobi, Nketiah, Saka
Scorers: Aubameyang, Iwobi
Yellow Cards: Sokratis, Guendouzi
Referee: Kevin Friend
Attendance: 59,493
Burnley are one of those seemingly forgotten Lancashire clubs that have fallen from grace a while ago, but there was a time of course, when they were considered to be one of the top sides in the old First Division, and Turf Moor was always a tough place to go to try obtain a result. In fact, one of our most famous matches was played against them at The Old Place on Friday 1st May 1953 when our 3-2 victory not only saw us win our seventh League Championship in sixteen peace-time seasons over title rivals Preston North End, but we also did it by one of the closest margins of all time; under the old goal average system, we became champions by 0.009 of a goal – 1.516 against PNE’s 1.417! Ironically, Preston North End beat us by two clear goals the week before; had they beaten us by just one more goal, it would have been them, and not us who would have been champions. A very close run thing indeed.

This match was a physically tough affair with absolutely no quarter given nor taken, as today, we desperately needed a result here at The Emirates not only consign the last two results to the dustbin of history, but to give ourselves a massive confidence boost to get through the maelstrom of the often oh-so-difficult Christmas league programme. The first goal of the match came within the first quarter of an hour, with our captain of the day Mesut Özil, orchestrating proceedings in his first full start for us since early November. A slick pass incising the Burnley defence found Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (viaSead Kolašinac), who wasted no time in introducing the match ball to the back of the The Clarets’ net by way of a well-taken volley. Being one-up so early in the game, this now gave everyone confidence to score more goals; despite some very wild physical tackles we assumed our dominance by half-time. The only bad issue to report from the business in the first half was an injury to Nacho Monreal, less than ten minutes before the break; he was replaced by the experienced Stephan Lichtsteiner, and in doing so, Mr. Emery changed the formation of the team, which changed the flow of the game.
Amazingly, this was the first occasion this season that we led at the break, and within minutes of the restart we reopened our account professionally and cleanly. After a bit of a mix-up in our defence, the ball found its way to Matteo Guendouzi, who in a blink of eye distributed it to Sead Kolašinac; looking up, he could see movement from our forwards, so he slotted it nicely to Alexandre Lacazette who delivered the opportunity to score on a plate to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He composed himself well, and made no mistake in putting Arsenal two up, despite the ball taking an unfortunate deflection past the Burnley goalkeeper. The visitors, to be fair, did not even blink an eyelid and came at Arsenal with vigour and agression. They grabbed a goal back just after the hour and for the rest of match, it was looking rather like Burnley would steal an equaliser at some point. It was indeed fortunate that Mr. Emery had already substituted Mohamed Elneny for Lucas Torreira as his dogged and determined style of play enabled us to neutralise the visitors’ threats. The coup de grâce came in the 91st minute when Alex Iwobi scored from close range to put the match beyound any reasonable doubt. Maybe the nasty undercurrent mood of the match spilled over at the end when it appeared that the two managers exchanged angry words with each other near the players’ tunnel, but it all appeared to be a Yuletide storm in a December teacup that disappeared into nothing.
Overall, we should be both pleased and relieved that this match is over; after the disappointment of the previous two games, we desperately needed to get back on track with a good win to keep up the with the top four Champions League places, and now that we have, the team can march on to the clash with Brighton on St. Stephen’s Day with renewed confidence. Of course, it all depends on results around us, but at this moment in time, Arsenal showed beyond doubt that skill and teamwork can overcome all issues. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Victoria Concordia Crescit.


Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.


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