It was another hard-fought victory away from home but nobody should be negative about the less than impressive score-line. We won at the stadium where neither Manchester United nor Manchester City have scored a goal this season and made another statement that, if we have to accept that the title challenge is an unrealistic goal, we plan to keep second place until the end. Here are the key points from the game.
1.It was another positive performance from David Ospina.
Ospina didn’t have too many troubles today but, again, he did exactly what he had to whenever he was called upon. He had to deal with about a million back-passes and didn’t do a Szczesny by pretending to be Johann Cruyff. He was well-positioned and kept a clean sheet. Another positive day in the office for the Colombian keeper.
2.Hector Bellerin is a great prospect who is yet to add consistency to his game.
We are all very excited about Bellerin but he is only 20. His performance against Burnley today – combined with the one against Stoke earlier this season – suggest that he is far from being the finished article as he was often beaten by our opponents. But that’s going to be one hell of an article!
3.Nacho Monreal was our best defender on the pitch…
With Bellerin being on the receiving end of a nutmeg and Koscielny not in his usual mood, it was a close fight between Per Mertesacker and Nacho Monreal for the Arsenal Defender of the Day award. I’d pick the Spaniard, if nothing for his perfect clearance in the second half when Ings came close to scoring.
4….but Per Mertesacker looked well today too.
In a game against an opponent who wanted to keep the ball in the air as much as possible, Mertesacker’s role was even more important. He did his job well today and probably put in one of his best performances of the season. Laurent Koscielny – who has bailed Mertesacker out of trouble on more than a few occasions this season – made a few unusual errors but his poor pass and a foul given away close to our penalty box didn’t come back to bite us.
5.Chief Inspector Francis Coquelin protected and served well again.
Thierry Henry compared Coquelin with a police officer who stops everyone who goes through a red light. Francis Coquelin made more than a few arrests today and totally deserved his MoTM award. He made a vital block when Ings tried to score with a volley in the second half, not to mention that he broke the hosts attack before our goal. Today he was Arsenal F(rancis) C(oquelin) indeed.
6.Aaron Ramsey scored another vital goal.
If all those lame and corny jokes about Ramsey killing celebrities with his goals were true, we would have run out of celebrities over the last two years. Ramsey added another goal to the list of his important goals – this one was worthy of three points and it was his second match-winning goal this term. He could have added one more if he had taken the shot immediately but I have no complaints.
7.Mesut Özil and Santi Cazorla split the game between themselves.
Özil was more active in the first half when he was finding space with his dribbling. He was constantly tackled by the opponents and the hostile crowd didn’t appreciate his silky touch. He was rather quiet in the second half but Santi looked more lively in that period of the game, especially when we wanted to protect the lead by pinging the ball around.
8.Alexis Sánchez didn’t score but put in another useful shift.
Alexis was everywhere again and contributed to our our goal as well. He was active in defending and was unlucky not to score in the opening minutes of the game. We’ll need to see more of a prolific Alexis against Chelsea though.
9.Olivier Giroud didn’t score.
It should have made the headlines – Olivier Giroud didn’t score. Just like Özil, he was on the receiving end of tackles too many times. Maybe he keeps his bullets for the game against Chelsea as The Blues have remained the only big team Giroud hasn’t scored against since his arrival in England.
10.Three points are all that matters.
There are games that are tough because you have to play them before the big games you’re more excited about. There is only one type of game that gets tougher than that – a boring game that you have to win. Today’s match against Burnley was exactly that type of match but we were up to the task and brought three points to London. Now the Manchester clubs can’t leapfrog us today and a draw in that game would be a great thing for us. If QPR make a surprising achievement against Chelsea with possibly a yellow card for either Nemanja Matić or Cesc Fabregas (come to think about it, why not both?) that would mean a two game suspension, our title challenge wouldn’t look like such a long shot.
Bonus-point: a history thing.
Arsenal hadn’t beaten Burnley away prior to today’s game since 1970. Arsenal went on to win the double and our manager was Bertie Mee. We won the FA Cup with a victory in the final over Liverpool.
Now, we won the game against Burnley, we are two expected outcomes away from the FA Cup final over Liverpool and Burnley had a player named Ben Mee on the pitch.
Yep, I went there…
Next game is against Reading at Wembley. We received a huge warning last year against Wigan and we can be assured that Reading won’t be pushovers in this year’s semifinal either. They will leave their sweat, blood, heart, soul and other big hits of “Modern Talking” on the pitch at Wembley hoping they will return there for the FA Cup Final. It’s our duty to put in another professional performance and brush them aside.