It’s never easy for Arsenal to play against teams that prefer a physical approach to football and Burnley were certainly not a pushover as the Gunners were made to work for their 2-1 win at Emirates. Arsenal took the lead thanks to a brilliant finish by Calum Chambers. However, we couldn’t hold onto our lead until the break as Sam Vokes equalized with a header. Our defence was a right mess with Kieran Gibbs’ accidental tackle on Francis Coquelin saying it all.
Fortunately for us, Alexis Sánchez celebrated his first start since his return from injury with a goal in the second half and that turned out to be the winner for. It was just what we needed following three league games without a victory. Here are the key points from the victory:
1.Our defence again looked shaky.
Apart from David Ospina who had a solid appearance, the rest of our defence should have done a far better job. Granted, Chambers did look lively going forward and scored a fantastic goal but he didn’t cover himself in glory with the Vokes goal and neither did Gabriel. The Brazilian’s partnership with Laurent Koscielny didn’t quite work with the experienced Frenchman having a difficult afternoon with Andre Gray. As for Kieran Gibbs, Nacho Monreal doesn’t need to worry about his place in the starting eleven.
2.Mohammed Elneny made a positive debut.
Perhaps it was the best possible opportunity for Arsene Wenger to test our new midfielder. The Egyptian finally made his debut and it was obvious from the start that he is yet to adapt to English football when it comes to the physical duels. However his passing game, movement and intelligence certainly saw him look at home in an Arsenal shirt.
His movement after making his pass looked especially promising as he was always making himself available for his team-mates which means we might see a lot of short-passing triangles in the opponents final third instigated by the Egyptian. Also, having a midfielder that is not shy of taking long shots is a positive thing.
3.Alexis Sánchez was the best player on the pitch by a mile.
The Chilean superstar made his first start since November and completely dominated throughout the game. Considering that he was always making things happen with his dribbling, passing and shooting, it’s no wonder Alexis was involved in both of our goals. We need the Chilean at his best in order to complete a successful title challenge as he is our only world-class forward.
Also, it’s worth noting that Francis Coquelin has returned. The best defensive midfielder in the Premier League during 2015 showed some signs of rustiness but it was expected given that he hadn’t played for two months. When Le Coq restores his form, our defence will look much, much more solid.
4.Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain grabbed an assist but he wasn’t the best Alex on the pitch.
Alex Iwobi’s performance suggests Wenger has another gem on his hands. Iwobi was involved in our second goal but it’s his touch that makes him look like the real deal. Yes, it’s too early to put a huge burden on his back, after all Iwobi is just 19, but it seems Iwobi’s uncle Augustin “Jay-Jay” Okocha should feel proud.
Iwobi’s namesake Oxlade-Chamberlain looked better than in some of his previous outings. The Ox created a goal for Alexis and should have had two more assists by his name had Theo Walcott scored a sitter. However, The Ox didn’t impress with set-pieces as his corners didn’t cause too much trouble.
5.Our winning streak in the FA Cup is now at 14 games.
Ever since that shocking 0:1 defeat against Blackburn in 2013 we have beaten Tottenham, Coventry, Liverpool, Everton, Wigan, Hull City (x2), Brighton & Hove Albion, Middlesbrough, Manchester United, Reading and Aston Villa. We are the best team in FA Cup history for a reason!
Our next game is against Southampton. We owe them a big one for that 4:0 defeat at St Mary’s and with Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey, Nacho Monreal and Petr Čech back in the starting eleven, we should win.