Result: Burnley 0 – 0 Arsenal
Competition: Premier League
Date: 2 February 2020
Venue: Turf Moor
Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Mustafi, Luiz, Saka, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Ozil, Martinelli, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Subs: Martinez, Sokratis, Torreira, Willock, Ceballos, Pepe, Nketiah
Arsenal and Burnley played out a bore draw as the Gunners lacked the cutting edge to turn their small pockets of dominance into some end product. Arsenal had some good chances spurned early in the first half before receding dominance to the home side.
Burnley almost nicked a goal in the second half but Jay Rodriguez’s effort was just inches from crossing the line for it to have counted. The winter break couldn’t have come at a better time as it gives Arteta and the team time to improve on their offensive play to go along with their new defensive resolve.
Arsenal returned to Premier League action against Burnley with an interesting line-up. Aubameyang and Luiz went straight to the side after serving their suspensions but Sokratis gets omitted for Mustafi. Guendouzi took Torreira’s midfield spot and Ozil and Lacazette take up forward positions with Pepe dropping to the bench. Martinelli’s great run of form saw him get the nod instead of the Ivorian.
With a defensive line comfortable with on ball, Arsenal calmly passed out from the back in spite of pressure from the Burnley forwards. The home team’s high line gave the Gunners their first big chance of the game with just a minute on the clock. A teasing cross was put in for Lacazette who could only head wide from the 6 yard box.
The next 10 mins saw 85% of the ball in Arsenal’s favour with Ozil regularly finding space in midfield. However, Arsenal took a leaf out of the Burnley playbook of Route 1 football on 13 minutes. Luiz and Aubameyang combined to catch Burnley’s high line off guard with a peach of a pass into the feet of the speedy forward. The Gabon striker showed some rust as he uncharacteristically put the ball into the side netting when through on goal.
Arsenal remained dangerous but were unable to hit the target with Guendouzi’s long range shot and Mustafi’s header from a corner going just past the post and cross respectively.
It was Aubameyang with the next big opportunity on the 35th minute with an almost carbon copy chance from the last one. This time, it was Xhaka who spotted the movement and floated in a lobbed ball for the striker who peeled off his sleeping marker to go through on goal. It wasn’t the easiest chance as the ball was bouncing as he tried to chip it above the keeper. Pope was sharp and stayed on his feet to save the attempt.
However, Burnley who grew into the game the last 10 minutes. They snuffed out Arsenal’s passing lanes and managed to impose their physicality with some hard tackles and aerial bombardments into the Arsenal penalty box.
The Gunners stood firm but were happy to go into the second half to regroup with the home team growing in dominance.
Torreira made it on the pitch for the start of the half in place of Saka who might have suffered a knock in the first half. Xhaka took his spot at left back for the Uruguayan to partner Guendouzi in the centre of the park.
The break did disrupt Burnley’s momentum but the shift in positions also blunted Arsenal’s ability to control the game, especially with Ozil and Lacazette unable to get involved in the game.
Under pressure from Burnley, Xhaka and Torreira got booked for desperate tackles within the first 15 minutes while Arsenal were also lucky to not have conceded from three threatening headers on goal.
Ozil’s fading influence prompted Arteta to replace him for Willock on the 62nd minute. The young Englishman added some drive in the middle of the park but still couldn’t open up the game for the Gunners. It wasn’t until the 75th minute that Arsenal had another productive attempt on goal. A quick counter saw Aubameyang surged through the middle as Lacazette took up position on the left. The Frenchman curled in a cross which Aubameyang could only head wide.
Arsenal were given a huge let off for missing their chances just minutes later as Rodriguez’s effort from four yards out hit the underside of the post only to be ruled out by goal line technology for the ball not fully crossing the line.
The rest of the game was a low level affair where attacks from both teams lacked cutting edge before the final whistle ended the misery of both sets of fans. The match ended 0-0. Bring on the winter break.