Fortune favours brave defenders as luck deserts Arsenal

Arsenal pushed self-destruct button yet again.

As said in previous reports, the self-destruction gene is not far from the surface. And the players perpetrating the mistakes are too long in the tooth to change.

Until Arteta changes the personnel – it will continue. How many times have we seen Arsenal outplay the opposition for large periods only to see an opposition goal leading to a loss or draw?

The Spaniard came out with a long list yesterday of what is to change at Arsenal – but bad timing as it coincided with the announcement of a £48m loss in the 2019-2020 season due to coronavirus. So, it looks like there will be limitations on new personnel to solve the problem and also with further dropped points – Arsenal less likely to qualify for Europe and attract them.

Granit Xhaka has made more mistakes leading to goals (8) than any other outfield Premiership player since the 2016/7 season. In this game, as in the last against Burnley, his mistake affected the Arsenal team badly. They were on top in the first 35 minutes.

But to Burnley’s credit they nullified Arsenal’s system, blocking midfield avenues and turned the last two thirds of the match into a physical battle.

The town of Burnley is subject to several BBC documentaries on poverty and Coronavirus with rates much higher than the national average.

They are a fighting side reflecting the area.  A team deserving of respect. They won the First Division in the early sixties beating Spurs to the title with a team largely from the local area, the north east and Northern Ireland.

A visit to Turf Moor in December would leave no doubts what this club is about. The pitch looked like a moor with Burnley not sprinkling it beforehand.

Arsenal made five changes with a hectic schedule coming up. Team news was Calum Chambers in for a rare start at right back – with his extra height useful on set pieces. Willian in on the left; Partey and Xhaka in midfield; Aubameyang and Saka started.

Arsenal wanted to play through midfield. Burnley pressed often between the half-way line and the Arsenal penalty area.

Slick midfield play between Partey and Xhaka saw Willian speed towards the Burnley area and pass to Aubameyang who performed a couple of step-overs cut inside and aimed for the inside post. Pope got down late, and the ball squeezed in. Aubameyang’s eighth against the Northerners.

Partey lobbed towards Aubameyang – parteyally cleared by Lowton to the Gabonese who was off balance when he tried to poke it home.

Then Aubameyang linked up well with Saka in the Burnley area but he poked it with the outside of his left foot – just wide of the post. He maybe should have scored. It is one area of his game he could be sharper and more clinical.

Burnley often sent it long and fought for second balls.

Saka sent Odergaard to the Burnley byline who set up Partey for a shot, but it was over the bar.

Aubameyang controlled it, drove into the area, and set up Saka in the left channel, but instead of firing first time with his right he mis-controlled and it was cleared.

Arsenal dropped back in the last ten of the first half and Burnley took advantage with a higher press.

Leno passed to Xhaka in the Arsenal area who tried to pass to Luiz, and it went straight to Wood’s hip and into the net.

Vydra collected it in the Arsenal area and found McNeil who shot dangerously across the area.

Willian was picked out by Luiz, but his bad form seemed to be returning, as he lost it several times during the first half.

Burnley came out re-invigorated for the second half – and took the initiative. Arteta’s team talk looked like it hadn’t done the business. It was only in the last ten minutes that Arsenal showed urgency.

Saka drove into the area and from his deflected shot Odergaard aimed for the far corner, but Pope saved.

Saka had a chance in the area – but he isn’t a natural finisher – and you need to be against defenders such as Mee and Tarkowski, as he delivered a weak shot which was cleared.

Odegaard came off on 62 for Lacazette with Arsenal keeping the formation. Taylor went off for Pieters for Burnley.

Willian, back to non-descript form went off for Pepe.

Pieters came in with a reducer on Lacazette’s right foot. Both substitutes impacted the game.

Luiz rushed out to clear a long ball and left Mari exposed against Vydra who found Wood unmarked in the area – leaving Leno to save.

Pepe dribbled in the Burnley area and had two handball claims turned down by referee Mariner and VAR. Then he met a chance from Tierney and Pieters cleared with his shoulder with the ball coming off the bar– a red card and penalty was rescinded by VAR.

Arsenal seemed to come to life in the last ten with Luiz crossing to Lacazette who found Aubameyang. His shot was blocked by Mee.

Right at the death Ceballos, on for Partey bent a shot which came off the post.

Pieters said: “ We defended to make sure we didn’t lose this game. It was a great effort for the team.”

Sean Dyche said: “It was a good point against a good Arsenal side. We are pleased with our physical capability – we kept at Arsenal’s players for 90 minutes.

“If you press, you get rewards. It is not easy against good technical players.”

Mikel Arteta said: “It is a tough place to come, and a difficult pitch.  If you don’t score your big chances, if you give a goal to the opponent and you don’t get the referee’s decision when you need to, it is very complicated in the Premier League to win a lot of games.

“When you have those moments in the game when you are so dominant you have to go two or three goals up and the game is over.

“We gave them a goal, it can happen in football and I demand that we play the way we do. It can happen when you play long.”

“It was an obvious penalty. If the first one is not a penalty honestly someone has to come to the training ground and explain what a handball is. It cannot be any clearer.

“It was a difficult pitch with a lot of long balls and aerial duels.”

Burnley: 1Pope, 2Lowton, 5Tarkowski, 6Mee, 3Taylor (Substituted for Pieters at 63’minutes Booked at 71mins), 7Gudmundsson (Substituted for Brady at 68’minutes), 18Westwood, 8Brownhill, 11McNeil, 27Vydra (Substituted for Rodriguez at 86’minutes), 9Wood

Arsenal: 1Leno, 21Chambers, 23David Luiz, 22Marí, 3Tierney, 18Partey (Substituted for Ceballos at 80’minutes), 34Xhaka, 7Saka (Booked at 55mins), 11Ødegaard (Substituted for Lacazette at 63’minutes), 12Willian (Substituted for Pépé at 69’minutes), 14Aubameyang