Arsenal (0) 0 Burnley (0) 1
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Sunday, 13th December 2020. Kick-off time: 7.15pm
(4-2-3-1) Bernd Leno; Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhães, Kieran Tierney; Mohamed Elneny, Granit Xhaka; Willian Borges da Silva, Alexandre Lacazette, Bukayo Saka; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Dani Ceballos, Alex Rúnarsson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Shkodran Mustafi, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith-Rowe.
Red Cards: Granit Xhaka
Yellow Cards: Hector Bellerin, Mohamed Elneny
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 65%
Referee: Graham Scott
Assistant Referees: Neil Davies, Richard West
Fourth Official: Stuart Attwell
VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR David Coote; AVAR Nick Hopton
Attendance: A maximum of 2,000 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restrictions
We all know what is at stake here at the Emirates tonight. Bluntly, if we don’t win, and Brighton and Hove Albion beat Leicester City, then, depending on goal difference, we could be sixteenth in the Premiership table by 10.00pm this evening. We have to start turning this around, clawing back points in order to ascend the table, as we do not need to be dragged into a relegation dogfight just before the Christmas fixtures. We all know the stats decree that we have lost six of our nine Premiership matches, and we have gone 656 minutes without scoring a top-flight goal from open play. Anyway, that’s the dark stuff over and done with. Let’s go!
A fairly steady start to the match, with both sides slowly getting into the swing of things. The majority of the early action took place in the Burnley half, with several good chances going astray by our players. We were extremely fortunate not to go one down after thirteen minutes, when Chris Wood missed an absolute sitter, when he had a free header on our goal, but fortunately it went wide. We had plenty of possession, but nothing to show for it, despite some very good efforts on the Burnley goal by Alexandre Lacazette, Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding, to name just three. The visitors were very quick of mind and feet, catching us on the break a few times, and fortunately their attacks all came to nothing very quickly. Alexandre Lacazette was extremely unfortunate not to score when his point-blank shot was blocked and cleared by the Burnley defence, and as the ever-present North London rain started to make things difficult for both sides, most of the action was centred on the midfield area. However, just before the break, we managed to find one or two ways through the Burnley defence that looked quite hopeful, but it was not to be, sadly, and so we went into half-time with honours even, and the stats informing us that we had one shot on target throughout the whole of the first half.
The second half started with a bit more urgency from both sides, but it was us that almost broke the deadlock, when Kieran Tierney hit a low, right-footed shot on target, which Nick Pope had to dive quickly to his right to save. This inspired a period of Arsenal activity in the Burnley penalty area, with Granit Xhaka, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mohamed Elneny being extremely unlucky not to open the scoring. Granit Xhaka got his marching orders for violent conduct after being the recipient of a seemingly minor tackle, and having now being down to ten men, Alexandre Lacazette was replaced by Dani Ceballos on the hour as an attempt by Mikel Arteta to re-jig the formation. The dismissal certainly changed the atmosphere of the game, and it was becoming patently obvious that this match could change in a heartbeat. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a great chance to score, but he was declared to be offside, and at the other end, after a scuffle and a corner, he put the ball into his own net to give Burnley the lead. Shortly afterwards, Ainsley Maitland-Niles replaced Héctor Bellerín, and the visitors started to play with more confidence than us at this point in the game, applying pressure on Bernd Leno’s goal. Gabriel was unlucky not to score with a superb left-footed shot, and with five minutes left on the clock, Bukayo Saka found himself with space in the Burnley penalty area, but his shot went way over the bar. In the five minutes’ injury time, we applied much pressure on the Burnley goal, but to no avail.
Dear God, that was truly awful. Losing the way we did, and having a man dismissed, it was terrible.The team has no confidence, no new ideas forthcoming, where are we going? If we don’t get six points from the next two matches (Southampton and Everton), the club could be in deep trouble. We’ll see on Wednesday evening.
Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Southampton at the Emirates on Wednesday, 16th December at 6.00pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. 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.