We’re getting rather good at this winning lark, aren’t we?
Not quite the swashbuckling hammering of the previous weekend, as we hit what is often referred to as the ‘business end’ of the season, the players are doing everything asked of them by picking up points week after week. Yesterday was no exception and it was great to see us do what is necessary and not get drawn into a ‘chase you up and down the pitch’ game with a Burnley team that is renowned for its hard work.
The pre-match talk in the town with Burnley fans was all about how Arsenal would start the game, because it was felt that the first 15 minutes would be key, so if Arsenal didn’t control the start we could be in for a tough afternoon. So it was magic to see us score within the first 15 and leave Burnley feeling a little shell-shocked. Rambo was the man on the scoresheet, as he continued his return to form with a fine finish after a bit of pinballing inside the Burnley box.
It was no more than we deserved, as we controlled the opening exchanges and went on to control nearly all of the first half. Apart from one smart save from Ospina from a free kick, the players reduced Burnley to longer balls and even then, I thought Big Per and Kos dealt with the aerial prowess of Volks with relative ease.
As the whistle blew for halftime, the only disappointment was in the fact that we hadn’t scored more goals to make our lead unassailable, so perhaps it was always inevitable that the second half would see Burnley press us higher up the pitch and limit our chances. Away from home, against a team fighting for their Premier League lives, the second 45 was always going to be one in which defensive resolve was of paramount importance. I think that’s exactly what we got and whilst we didn’t create too many chances, it did feel like we were playing within ourselves a bit. But I’m kind of ok with that, you know? It felt a bit like all the 2-0s at the beginning of last season, where we would go ahead and defensively we looked so solid that the game was won, so if we occasionally add a performance like yesterday’s to our reportoire, having also been blitzing teams recently, then that’s fine by me.
The Management noted that Coquelin’s performance was once again solid, his anchoring of the midfield now an integral part of how composed we are as a defensive unit. I love that he loves a tackle and he’s building his reputation as ‘Mr Interception’ wonderfully.
Offensively it was a strange game. Alexis was busy and it was difficult to say poor, because he’s never poor, but I thought he struggled at times. Giroud was a good hold up man, but his run of scoring in every game was bound to end at some stage and it felt like he didn’t really get any proper opportunities in front of goal. Perhaps we should credit the Burnley defence rather than assume it was any wrongdoing on Olivier’s part. After all, this Burnley team don’t concede many goals at home, so chances were always going to be at a premium against a team that are well organised and disciplined.
Özil had another good game, as did Santi, but the real stand out player in the offensive side was Rambo. Interestingly enough, he played on the right of the front three again, so I guess that whole myth about him not playing well out of position doesn’t really work at the moment. The reality is that he doesn’t occupy the natural wide role throughout the game like someone like Theo would, popping up all over the pitch to receive the ball, which can be useful but there were times in the second half where Bellerin had to check back and come in field when an overlapping Arsenal player would have been able to fashion some space.
But hey, let’s not be too picky, because we got what we came for. And right now that’s all we need.