Arsenal Grind Out Tough Win, Keep Pressure On Chelsea


Arsenal traveled to Turf Moor to face Burnley on Saturday, trying to do something which hadn’t been done since the magical ‘Invincible’ side of 2003-2004; win 8 premier league games in a row.  The Arsenal side saw Laurent Koscielny pass his fitness test to get the start in the center of the defense, while Wojiech Szczesny also passed his only to be given a spot on the substitutes bench. Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, and Abou Diaby all did not make the bench.

The match started out very open with Arsenal enjoying a wealth of possession, allowing Alexis Sanchez to get back to his old self, buzzing around the pitch and going close to goal twice in the first ten minutes, once from a free kick. Unsurprisingly, after such a fine start it took Arsenal only 11 minutes to open the scoring.

More from Pain in the Arsenal

In the 11th minute Alexis controlled a rifled pass from Francis Coquelin and cut inside to the middle.  A couple of stutter steps saw him shake a couple of defenders and rip a shot off just outside the box.  One Burnley defender was able to get in the way of the shot and it was deflected wide left. The deflection fell nicely for Mesut Ozil who was able to get a shot off, but the angle from the left was too tight and the shot was once again parried, this time by the keeper Tom Heaton.  This time the deflection fell again for Alexis who again let it fly and yet again saw it parried wide.  This deflection would see Burnley’s luck finally run out and Aaron Ramsey, who was in the right place at the right time, powered a shot into the top of the net. It was a great finish from a player who admitted his time spent out with injury was having a negative effect on his scoring and decision making.

View image |

From here on for the rest of the half, chances for both sides were scarce. Kieran Tripper had an excellent free kick saved by an even more excellent David Ospina around the 20th minute.  Only a few minutes later Arsenal were awarded a free kick just outside the Burnley box, on the left.  In the end it was Santi Cazorla who took the shot and it very nearly went in.  I don’t believe Tom Heaton would have been able to make the save, but the shot was still inches wide.

The rest of the half was very energetic and even rather chippy at times, but the teams went into the tunnel at halftime with the score 1-0.

The first chance of the half came for Burnley in the 48th minute.  A Trippier corner flew into a very congested box but no one could really seem to control the ball.  In the end, Burnley did control it and got a shot that required a neat save from the Arsenal keeper.

Though Alexis and Santi Cazorla both saw decent efforts saved, the next real chance didn’t come until the 70th minute when Burnley probably should have equalized.

Burnley’s left back, Ben Mee, who had been having a pretty decent day, came in down the left flank. He cheekily nutmegged Hector Bellerin then put in a decent low cross into the box.  The cross should have fallen to the feet of George Boyd with Ospina facing the other direction, but by some miracle the midfielder slipped/fell and the danger was promptly snuffed out by the Arsenal defense.

Burnley came close just two minutes later as well.  A great run of play from the Lancashire side saw them with possession of the ball around Arsenal’s 8 yard box.  The plethora of toes  saw the ball poked up in the air and Danny Ings saw his chance.  Ings went up and attempted the most prolific shot in all of football, the bicycle kick. Fortunately for us though, Ings is no Wayne Rooney and the shot fell rather tamely into the hands of David Ospina.

More from Arsenal Match Reports

Arsenal finally had a decent chance in the 85th as the fresh substitute, Danny Welbeck, almost put away the game for the Gunners.  Cazorla found Welbeck on a forward run with a nice through ball into the box.  Welbeck did well to get around a couple of Burnley defenders and get off a shot, but in the end it was well-defended and only bounced out for a corner.

Burnley made it uncomfortable for Arsenal a couple of times, but were unable to grab the equalizer as Arsenal got the 3 points.  It was not a straightforward win for the Gunners, as Burnley put up an admirable effort.  A fixture which on paper looked like it could be a bit tricky proved to be just that.  Anyone who watched the match could have told you what Sean Dyche instructed his players to do both before the match and especially at the break: PRESS.

The Burnley players pressed Arsenal all day, rarely giving them any room to


pass or get forward.  It is a risky game to play, especially against a side like Arsenal, but when it comes off it is truly hard to cope with.  Arsenal were lucky to get their goal and then hold on for the win.

Francis Coquelin had another impressive performance and was pivotal to Arsenal being able to cope with the Burnley attack. I feel like a broken record talking about the Coq every week, but it needs to be said how incredible he’s been for us this year and what an amazing story it’s been for him this year.

View image |

At the end of the day it was another important victory for Arsenal and another vital 3 points in the Premier League.  If we can get through Reading at Wembley next weekend we’ll go into our clash with Chelsea with a full head of steam. For the record, I’m not saying we’ve got a realistic chance at the title, but lets just enjoy this form we’re in while we can and getting one over on Chelsea would be very sweet indeed.  Not to mention it’s been quite a while since Arsenal have finished above 3rd place.

Until next time and #COYG

For more up-to-date news, follow Pain in the Arsenal on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

Next: Alexis to win PFA?