It would have been nice to see a dominant win over Championship opposition Burnley, but a win is a win in the FA Cup, and we’re through to the fifth round.
It was a much changed side from the one that faced Chelsea at the weekend, with a debut for Mohamed Elneny, several players returning from injury, and a few fringe players getting their chance to impress.
It was still a strong lineup though, and we unquestionably had more than enough quality in the side to get the win.
It was end to end right from the start, with both sides creating chances. Shots were taken, but for the most part they were off target.
The first real chance fell to Andre Gray, who capitalised on a mistake by Laurent Koscielny to put himself through on goal against the long lost David Ospina. The Colombian stood up well however, remaining big and blocking the striker’s attempted dink.
We responded by putting some pressure on the Burnley goal, with shots flying in from Calum Chambers, Mohamed Elneny, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Burnley retreated into themselves a little, and it led to us getting the opening goal.
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Good work from Alexis Sanchez on the edge of the box saw the Burnley defence crowd around him, and he was able to nutmeg one to feed the ball through to Chambers. The versatile youngster – who was being fielded at right-back – steadied himself and picked his spot, hitting a surprisingly brilliant shot towards the far post with the outside of his boot, leaving the keeper with absolutely no chance. 1-0.
There was a slightly scary moment when Kieran Gibbs looked determined to re-injure Francis Coquelin, sliding in dangerously on the Frenchman. Coquelin was visibly in pain, but thankfully was able to continue.
Unfortunately, the goalscorer Chambers then played a part in Burnley’s equaliser, with both he and Gabriel Paulista failing to deal with Sam Vokes. The striker held both players off, rising highest to power a header past Ospina. Both the header and the cross were good, but the defenders and the keeper arguably could have done more. 1-1.
We came out fighting in the second half, and looked determined to make up for the sloppily conceded goal. And we soon did so, with Alexis Sanchez applying the finish to a superb counter-attack to restore our one goal lead.
Alexis, Alex Iwobi, and Olivier Giroud all linked up as it was played through midfield, with Burnley throwing a few too many bodies forward. The ball quickly found its way out to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right wing, who charged towards the byline and got his head up. He cut back across goal towards a number of onrushing bodies, with Alexis Sanchez the benefactor as he fired it into the roof of the net. 2-1.
We probably should have scored a couple more before the end of the game, with Laurent Koscielny’s effort cleared off the line, Alexis Sanchez’s rifle of a free-kick kept out by Tom Heaton, and Mohamed Elneny striking a few decent long-shots goalwards. There was one unbelievable chance in particular, when second half substitute Theo Walcott unquestionably should have scored. A last minute counter put him one-on-one with Heaton, and he could have either squared it to a teammate, rounded the keeper, or finished it past him. He seemed caught in two minds though, and in the end practically ran into the shot-stopper, making a real hash of the chance to put the game to bed.
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Thankfully we weren’t made to pay, and the final whistle went with the score at 2-1. It was far from vintage Arsenal, but we got the win and progress to the next round of the FA Cup. Now we turn our minds to Southampton on Tuesday.