Result: Arsenal 3 – 1 Burnley
Competition: Premier League
Date: 22nd December 2018
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Arsenal: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Monreal, Kolasinac, Elneny, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Subs: Cech, Lichtsteiner, Torreira, Ramsey, Iwobi, Saka, Nketiah
Arsenal got back to winning ways with goals from Aubameyang, and substitute Iwobi, to seal a 3-1 win over Burnley at the Emirates. Aubameyang scored the first goal after a defence splitting pass from Ozil found Kolasinac teed him up for an open shot on goal. Aubameyang scored early in the second half while Iwobi wrapped things up in injury time.
Monreal’s injury does compound fitness concerns for the defence as the team is light on numbers at the back as they move into a heavy festive schedule.
In what looked like a major U-turn in fortunes, Mesut Ozil started the game as captain after missing out last week’s North London Derby due to “tactical reasons”. The game also saw Elneny feature in his first league match of the season in place of Torreira who was given a rest with a place on the bench.
Arsenal set up in a 4-4-2 formation with a midfield diamond, 2 strikers up top, and Monreal dropping in as a centre back.
The match started at a high tempo. Arsenal almost scored within the first minute with Tarkowski clearing a deflected cross from the path of a lurking Aubameyang. Burnley countered immediately and exposed the Arsenal defence to go one on one with Leno. Fortunately, the shot was deflected for a corner.
Some good work on the left wing saw Lacazette whip in a tantalizing cross on the 7th minute. Elneny headed the ball on goal but Burnley managed to block and smother his attempt clear.
Arsenal finally managed to break the deadlock on the 13th minute and it was Ozil who was the chief architect. After some intricate exchanges on the right wing, Ozil threaded a precise through ball that cut through the packed Burnley defence to an onrushing Kolasinac on the opposite flank. The
Serbian Bosnian pulled the ball back for Aubameyang in the penalty box who buried the ball into the bottom corner. 1-0 Arsenal.
The Gunners continued to dominate possession comfortably through while holding a high line. Arsenal’s confidence was personified in Lacazette who executed a rabona to cross for his teammates.
Tempers started flaring when Ashley Barnes and Sokratis grappled by the byline with the former claiming that there was an elbow thrown in by the Arsenal centre half. Barnes got a yellow for his shenanigans. The two clashed again towards the end of the half, the Greek this time being booked for a pull on the Burnley forward’s jersey.
Things started looking shakey again for Arsenal when Monreal walked off with an injury in the 35th minute and was replaced by Lichtsteiner. The Swiss international slotted in to the right centre back position while looked like Arsenal reverted to a back three – Xhaka being moved to a left centre back berth.
The switch in formation resulted in Arsenal ceding possession in the midfield. Burnley took this opportunity to look for an equalizer. However, Arsenal managed to hold them at bay and went into the second half with a lead for the first time in the Premier League this season.
Just a couple of minutes into the second half, Guendouzi started a counter attack and put Kolasinac through. The team moved the ball quickly from the left flank to an unmarked Aubameyang on the right. He lashed an unstoppable strike through the roof of the net that left Joe Hart stranded. That’s Aubameyang’s 12th league of of the season as he went top of the league’s goal scoring charts. 2-0.
The Gunners were involved in a couple of precarious moments on the 55th minute. The team stepped up to catch Burnley offside on a free kick but the linesman played on. Sokratis recovered quickly to clear the ball. Kolasinac then pushed a Burnley player in the back when defending a free kick but the opposition’s theatrics meant that the referee waved away calls for a penalty.
Emery decided to close out the game as early as the 58th minute with the substitution of Elneny for Torreira. Unfortunately, this did not have the desired effect as the team struggled to clear a free kick from deep. Barnes pounced on the ball and made it 2-1.
Arsenal struggled to get their shape right as Cork he was left in acres of space on the edge of the box to strike on goal. His shot looped wide but it was a warning as Burnley pushed for an equalizer.
The last Arsenal substitution came in the shape of Iwobi for Lacazette in the 77th minute to pack the midfield which was struggling to win the second balls. The Frenchman did not look happy with the decision as he took it out on his teammates with some verbal barbs.
This time, the substitution paid off as Iwobi sealed the win for Arsenal in injury time after Ozil’s shot was deflected into his path.
The match ended 3-1 for Arsenal.