Well it wasn’t quite the hammering that we saw against Sheffield United a few weeks back, but as expected Arsenal did the job at The Emirates yesterday against a struggling Burnley side.
Pre game I wrote about how I expected them to be a little more progressive than the Burnley of old, I expected them to potentially ‘have a go’ and I thought that we’d see an open match in which we’d have a little more space than the ‘Low Block FC’ games of the past. But in hindsight, given how Burnley had fared against some of the bigger teams in the league, perhaps what eventually unfolded was to be expected, as we came up against another side who set up to defend a little deeper, tuck in, try to frustrate The Arsenal.
I don’t blame Vincent Kompany though; he’s going away to a side who are towards the top of the division, who are expected to compete for the title and who showed last season and in midweek that if you give them time, they’ll put you to the sword.
Arteta named an almost unchanged side to the one that played on Wednesday night, with Ødegaard still ruled out, but this time Ben White was absent after Arteta admitted at the end of the game that he’d been carrying a knock for a few weeks now. Ben is famously a guy who played with a dodgy hammy the season before last, so Arteta took this opportunity to get him some rested minutes and with the international break now upon us, hopefully a couple of weeks of full rest will enable him to get over the knock he has been suffering with.
And the good news for us is that Tomiyasu’s form is such that we could a lot him in at right back, with Zinchenko able to start on the left and you have to say that’s a good alternate option when somebody like White is injured.
So the game started and as expected most of the ball was played in the Burnley half, but there were one or two moments for the Clarets, with Raya forced in to a couple of saves to remind us that whilst we would dominate possession and territory, this Burnley team still have some sort of threat about them.
But we were creating chances of our own two and James Trafford was forced in to some decent saves in that first half from both Martinelli and Saka, who he tipped our Starboy’s effort on to the bar. In that first half we had 10 shots in total and created two big chances, so whilst we had to wait until the end of the half to open our account, there was enough there to suggest the goal was coming to make me feel comfortable enough that we’d get one.
And so right at the end of the half that goal came. It’s funny because every single match we play when I’m in the ground I always feel like “this could be one of those days” until that goal goes in. You know we’re creating chances, you know we should score soon, but you’re just a little nervous that the moment won’t arrive. So when Saka flicked the ball goalwards for Trossard to get the important final touch to put us ahead, the relief can subside for another week.
Quick aside from that first half – let’s have a sarcastic shout out to VAR and Michael Oliver too, eh, as this week they were able to see a player with his hands on a defender to rule out a goal we’d scored before we actually opened the scoring. Interesting that this week it’s a foul when next week there’s nothing doing, eh?
The second half started in a similar vein to the first and I thought we once again controlled territory and possession. We didn’t have as many shots – just six compared to ten in the first half, but we were still dominant and particularly Martinelli on the left hand side I thought had a good game.
Despite that, however, Burnley had their moment and once again I thought we were unlucky with the equaliser they got. It was a pretty chunky deflection that took the ball beyond Raya and on 55 minutes we were back to square one.
But this is an Arsenal team with a resoluteness about it and since the beginning of last season I have enjoyed our ability to instantly bounce back. I remember us doing it against Leicester and Villa last season and I feel like it’s happened a few times; Arsenal concede a goal and instantly bag one of their own. Step forward Big Bill Saliba to head in from a corner and the Emirates breathes a sigh of relief. It was a good header too and once again I’m looking at Saliba and thanking our lucky stars that we have him. Imperious at the back and a threat from set pieces too. Couldn’t ask for much more.
Well, we could, which was more goals and so we come to the best one of the night and a fantastic bit of technique from Zinchenko to seal the game. His scissor kick as the ball came back out from hitting the bat was perfectly executed and when you bag a goal like that with 15+minutes to go, it’s game over and we can all start thinking the three points are secure.
The match was then on to game management mode, which is why I think Arteta will be a little miffed that Fabio Vieira got himself sent off on 83. It put us under a last bit of unnecessary pressure and meant that Burnley were able to retain more ball than they’d had all game. It was a silly challenge and I don’t think anyone will have any complaints, so we now miss another player for three games that could have made an impact for us given all the injuries right now.
Martinelli also came off for Kiwior but I think that was tactical more than anything else and Tomiyasu had a problem with his eye, but apparently that was just contact lens related so hopefully he’s fine.
So it’s very much a case of ‘job done’ for the lads and we head off on another international break with another three points tucked safely under our proverbial arms. It was exactly the kind of professional display I’d mentioned in the pre match blog yesterday morning and we got exactly what we wanted and needed. And there was also the hilarity of seeing the Scum go from a winning position in the dying embers of the game against Wolves, in to a defeat by the time the final whistle had sounded. Let’s hope this is the start of the wheels falling off, eh?
That’s me done for today. I’ll be back on the mic later with Amanda and James for the Same Old Arsenal podcast though at 7.30pm if you fancy joining us – you’ll find us here if you do.
Have a good one, enjoy your Remembrance Sunday and remember to think about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom and liberties – for any country, any religion, any war and at any time.