Arsenal left Turf Moor with a solitary point as Granit Xhaka’s mistake gifted Burnley a goal they held onto to inflict further damage on the Gunners’ faltering Premier League campaign.
There are times when it all clicks. Newcastle, Leeds and Leicester were prime examples. Then there are the other occasions, such as Burnley on Saturday, where Arsenal’s lack of ruthlessness again costs them dearly.
Bukayo Saka was guilty of spurning a fine opportunity in the first half, while Thomas Partey had a decent oppening to score his first Arsenal goal even if the chance wasn’t as clear. And then umpteen other chances went begging after the break, including a remarkable miss from Nicolas Pepe with the ball yearning to be caressed or walloped..
Where the vast improvements have been made are in between both boxes. Structurally Arteta has got Arsenal playing a more diverse yet also pre-planned brand of football, one that is creating chances when none were forthcoming earlier in the season. There is a blueprint for how the team should attack but it allows for individual flair to add spark in the final third.
Arsenal were left to rue more missed chances against Burnley as they recorded a disappointing 1-1 draw in the Premier League
Furthermore, the periods of games where Arsenal are in control are being extended, and not just for the sake of keep-ball, but with actual purpose. There is threat. However, in both boxes the mistakes remain prevalent and passing up chances to score and put games to bed remains are profoundly worrying trait to this side.
By being so wasteful when in the ascendancy, the errors that cause immeasurable irritation are exacerbated to extreme levels. Granit Xhaka’s mistake could have happened and still been bemoaned, but it wouldn’t have been catastrophic if Arsenal were two goals to the good. There are numerous examples of similar scenarios this season.
Away from home is where it’s been worst, with recent examples at Wolves and Aston Villa those freshest in the memory.
Arteta spoke recently about his side being ‘far away’ from where he wants them to be and decision-making in and around the opposition box is a vital ingredient to that. Much of that can be coached, while other elements are instinctive.
There is method in every motion, and you wonder if that is impacting some of the decision-making. In being too rigid, the spontaneity and individualism might become an after-thought. The players are becoming guilty of odd choices in the final actions and that, coupled with their own uninfluenced decisions, is contributing to this sobering lack of bite.
A considerable work in progress as Olympiacos looms.