Result: Burnley 1 – 1 Arsenal
Competition: Premier League
Date: 6 March 2021
Venue: Turf Moor
Arsenal: Leno, Chambers, David Luiz, Mari, Tierney, Partey, Xhaka, Saka, Odegaard, Willian, Aubameyang
Subs: Ryan, Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Elneny, Ceballos, Pepe, Martinelli, Lacazette
Arsenal shot themselves in the foot at Turf Moor as they let their lead slip to gift Burnley a 1-1 result.
The Gunners dominated the early stages and scored within the first five minutes. They continued to produce great chances but couldn’t find the finish. Leno and Xhaka’s mistake allowed Burnley back into the game.
Despite Burnley nullifying Arsenal for most of the second half, Pepe had 3 penalty calls unfairly waved away as the Gunners dropped two points in their chase for a European place.
There were a couple of surprise inclusions in the team against Burnley with Chambers starting his first Premier League game in over a year at right back since coming back from his long-term injury, possibly to tuck into central areas and provide some height against the Orcs.
Partey, Saka and Aubameyang returned to start and Willian kept his place after his promising performance against Leicester.
Arsenal were the dominant team from kick off though it was a challenge to keep the ball on the ground due to how dry and bobbly the pitch was. Despite the tough conditions, the Gunners were not fazed as they scored within the first 5 minutes.
A clever interchange between Xhaka and Partey allowed Arsenal to play out from the Burnley press. Partey fed Willian who lurked cleverly between the lines and the Brazilian’s dribble upfield was left unchallenged. He passed to Aubameyang on the left who cut in against a Burnley back line that kept backing away as slotted the ball towards the bottom corner of the near post. Nick Pope got his palm to the ball but couldn’t keep it out as it sneaked under him. 0-1 Arsenal
Arsenal continued to dominate possession comfortably and patiently while also holding Burnley at arm’s length. Willian’s movement was particularly impressive, flitting between central and left channels that made him a hard target to mark. But it was Aubameyang who remained elusive to the home side as he had two more chances within the next 10 minutes by running in behind the defence.
His first shot was blocked and his second went wide as he was off balance. Aubameyang was again involved for the next chance, creating an opening for Saka as he too went wide from close range.
Burnley eventually started gaining possession though Arsenal were untroubled. I had a sneaky feeling that Arsenal’s wastefulness in front of goal was not going to go unpunished and it was the away team who pressed the self-destruct button.
Leno and Xhaka were looking to play out from the back but were penned in by Burnley’s two strikers. Xhaka attempted a right footed pass to the wide area but it was blocked by Wood and the ball deflected into the net. It was a poor pass by Xhaka but Leno should also not have passed to the Swiss who was not in a great position to receive the ball. 1-1 Burnley
Arsenal should have at least been two goals ahead, even when taking into consideration the defensive error, and the manager should have had a few choice words with the players in the dressing room.
The Gunners took the initiative again in the second half though they couldn’t pry open a steadfast Burnley defence. Odegaard and Saka had a couple of decent chances but it wasn’t all one way traffic – the home side reverted to their physical route one approach to rattle Arsenal.
With Arsenal being nullified, Arteta opted to remove Odegaard for the more combative Lacazette on the 62nd minute to take over the central playmaking role. Willian was the next player to make way, on the 69th minute, this time for Pepe who took his place on the right wing as Saka shifted to the left.
Pepe’s introduction almost bore fruit. He took on his defender in the box and as the ball bounced, it hit the defender on the arm, twice. It should have been a penalty but the referee waved it away. A very poor decision there by the ref.
Pepe had another glorious chance to push Arsenal into the lead with 10 minutes to go. Tierney fizzed a low cross into the box and Pepe, usually excellent with his finishing, took his eye of the ball and was half a second too slow to connect with the ball as he scuffed it.
His second chance from another Tierney cross came soon after. He connected well this time around though the ball hit a Burnley defender on the arm on route to goal. After the initial handball decision was not given, the referee opted to make it a hattrick of non-penalty calls against Arsenal – shambolic stuff.
Aubameyang’s close range attempt was blocked and Ceballos’ shot hit the upright during injury time. It was just not to be for Arsenal.