Arsenal jump into top four with late win at Burnley
Gunners net last minute penalty to escape Turf Moor with three points
26 November, 2017 — By Geoffrey Sawyer
FA Premier League
ARSENAL 1 (Sanchez pen 90+2)
ARSENAL crept into the top four of the Premier League with virtually the last kick of the match against Burnley. Alexis Sanchez buried an injury time penalty after Aaron Ramsey had been shoved over. It was deja vu for the home side who were beaten by the Gunners in the dying seconds of the same fixture last season at Turf Moor.
The late, late show meant Arsenal capitalised on rivals Liverpool and Chelsea drawing to each other and Spurs’ failure to beat West Brom at Wembley on Saturday. The standings are likely to be jumbled up again with midweek fixtures ahead, during which Huddersfield come to the Emirates on Wednesday. Then, Manchester United are due in N5 next Saturday evening.
While Manchester City are runaway leaders at the top of the division, Arsene Wenger’s men are desperate to return to the Champions League next season and are looking to build momentum following last weekend’s success in the north London derby.
A trip to Burnley has become a daunting assignment for any team in the league after Sean Dyche’s team climbed to the upper reaches of the table in the first third of the season on the back of a mean defence which has only conceded ten goals in the league, including today’s penalty. Arsenal were without Mesut Ozil, one of the mastermind of the victory against Spurs, who was classed as ill, and will not play again this week. Fans joked he had ‘Barcelona-itis’ due to rumours about a possible January move to La Liga for the German star whose contract is rapidly expiring. Wenger has played down the speculation.
Iwobi struggled to make an impact and was later withdrawn in favour of Jack Wilshere, another player whose future remains unclear despite the obvious keenness among the Arsenal fans for him to get more minutes on the pitch. He wasn’t the only Arsenal man to find the going heavy against a Burnley side which has become adept at frustrating the opposition while also offering options going forward.
Petr Cech needed to perform well between the sticks, and stretched to push Robbie Brady’s sweeping free-kick to safety. Ramsey had one of the better chances for Arsenal when he was found in space by Alexandre Lacazette but the ball was hurtling at him hard and he could only scoop his shot over the bar.
It was an even encounter: Burnley on top for periods in the first half, Arsenal hauling themselves into the match in the second and finally getting the breakthrough in the nick of time.
Dyche, unsurprisingly, was not happy with the award of the penalty which some referees may have waved away. “I thought it was highly unlikely the penalty wasn’t going to get given, at that stage, I think you can all make your conclusions from that, working backwards,” the Burnley manager fumed. “It’s a tough one, it probably is a penalty, but my point is it was never not going to be given on today’s performance, I can assure you.”
He added: “It was difficult because it was a very good performance from us, particularly in the first half, to play against a side like them, keep the ball, probe, have them on the back foot at times and create chances without our keeper having much to do, was very pleasing.”
Wenger said ref Lee Mason called it right. “In the first half we didn’t find our game and they stopped us from playing very well,” he said. “In the second half we upped the tempo and dominated much more, we created more chances and it was a question of finding the final ball, being patient and not making a mistake at the back.”
The Arsenal manager added: “From the outside it looked 100 per cent a penalty, I don’t know why he pushed him with two hands in his back but it looked like a penalty. When you see how difficult it is to score against them it’s a big result, you’d think that many clubs will drop points here. They’ve got 22 points already and when you play against them you know why.”
BURNLEY: Pope, Lowton, Ward, Mee, Tarkowski, Defour (Wood 78), Cork, Brady, Gudmundsson, Hendrick, Barnes
Subs not used: Arfield, Lindegaard, Bardsley, Long, Cokes, Westwood
ARSENAL: Cech, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Monreal, Mustafi, Koscielny, Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi (Wilshere 67), Sanchez, Lacazette (Welbeck 79)
Sus not used: Coquelin, Ospina. Giroud, Maitland-Niles, Mertesacker