Under pressure flaws show up. The sixth red under Arteta, since he took over shows a brittle discipline – twice as many as any other Premiership club in the time. And it should have been two Arsenal players off in this one.
It is fourteen months since Xhaka was booed off by his own fans. Arteta showed faith in the Swiss – and he let the Spaniard and team down.
In August Xhaka said: “He [Arteta] turned me around and gave me a second chance and he showed me he trusted me, and I tried to give him everything back.”
At the beginning of the game – here’s not hoping for a rejected cross-fest, given the aerial power of the northerners. But the form book didn’t add to confidence: another 7.15pm Sunday home fixture with Arsenal losing the last three.
Is part of the problem a cultural one from the Wenger regime? Most starters were Wenger buys or signings – including the three with bad lapses of discipline – Xhaka, Elneny and Bellerin – players bought or signed under a different philosophy to Arteta’s which is much more heavy on tactical organisation.
Senior players are coming back for Burnley but before this match had only scored five goals in the league this season. The two teams had scored 15 between them –so this was a battle of confidence.
Arsenal played well – and would have won, not lost 0-1, but for a couple of misses by Lacazette and stupidity from Xhaka. Daresay if Arsenal keep applying themselves, and stick together, a deflected shot or some such, will find the net and things will turn.
Elneny came in for Ceballos, following his performance in Ireland. Lacazette was at 10.
Chris Wood ran behind Gabriel sending out a clear warning in the first five.
Aubameyang crossed after a good run by Saka but Lacazette mis-kicked.
Brady in space on the right found Wood unmarked for a clear header on goal and it hit his shoulder and went wide– with Bellerin out of position.
Aubameyang chased a ball down and Pope hit it straight out. And then set up Saka on a run but Tarkowski cleared.
Saka in space picked out Holding out in the area but it went over.
Lacazette had a clear opening set up by Tierney. He hit it hard but it was straight at Pope. A natural goal-scorer would have found the net – either side of the keeper. Then Willian crossed but Gabriel headed it wide.
Lacazette could have set Aubameyang away but sent it too close to a Burnley defender. His hold up play, and distribution aren’t good enough, for the moment at least, for the No 10 role.
Aubameyang crossed to Tierney who set up the move and shot low, but it was saved by Pope.
Then Bellerin crossed but Aubameyang headed straight at Pope.
Aubameyang on a run passed to Willian who sent it to Saka who shot – parried by Pope.
Mid-way through the second half, Xhaka chopped down McNeill on a break-away. And the Swiss grabbed Westwood’s throat as he was tripped in a melee. VAR deemed Graham Scott should have a look at the pitch-side screen and upgraded the yellow to a red. The Swiss was booed off again – over a year since the last time. Lacazette went off and Ceballos came on.
From a Burnley corner, Ben Mee nearly connected.
Aubameyang shot from an angle and Willian’s cross was knocked out by Mee.
Bellerin put in a dangerous mistimed tackle and was booked for a fifth yellow and misses the Southampton game. Lack of discipline again, along with the throw ins. Although he cleared the free kick, from the resultant corner, Elneny should have seen red putting his hands into Tarkowski’s face and then diving to the floor. He escaped a red as VAR deemed that jostling for space at a set piece is a ‘lesser offence’. Another big lapse of discipline.
Aubameyang scored an own goal directly from the Westwood corner jumping at the near post. Cruel irony.
Bellerin went off for Maitland Niles.
Nketiah came on for Willian.
Saka, Arsenal’s best player along with Tierney, set up on the left cut in and shot hard – it was headed over by Tarkowski.
Aubameyang had a chance at the death but slipped – typifying Arsenal’s luck and form.
Westwood said: “We felt we could put them under pressure. We always had a chance at set pieces.”
Burnley manager Sean Dyche said: “It wasn’t easy against ten men. We had a bit of luck with the goal. We defended well and our shape was good.” He praised Burnley’s togetherness with all their noses pointing in the same direction?
Mikel Arteta said: “We had chances, and dominance through the game. We threw it away – with a silly red card. We had total control – and should have won it earlier. It was even worse than Pepe under these conditions.
Arteta was pleased how much will, energy and commitment the players put into the games, using this to ‘excuse’ Xhaka’s behaviour, saying he over-stepped the line. Not sure he will be saying that in private.
Asked how he would get out of it, Arteta said: “We will try to win the game again. We need to score a goal and put the ball in the net. We were on top since the beginning until the sending off – and even after.”
Arsenal: Leno, Bellerín. Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Elneny, Xhaka, Willian, Lacazette, Saka, Aubameyang
Substitutes: Ceballos, Rúnarsson, Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Willock, Nketiah, Smith Rowe
Burnley: Pope, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, Brady, Westwood, Brownhill, McNeil, Rodriguez, Wood
Substitutes: Barnes, Peacock-Farrell, Pieters, Vydra, Long, Dunne, Benson
Referee: Graham Scott