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Arsenal are trying to kill their fans...

arsenal 2 burnley 1 match report premier league 2017

Match Review: Arsenal 2 Burnley 1 - Premier League 22.01.17

It feels like Arsenal football club is the only club in the world that is actively trying to kill its supporters. Maybe they’re conducting an experiment to see how much punishment a human heart can take or they’re trying to create a fanbase without fingernails. We’ve been really put through it so far this season, late goals and comebacks have been almost the norm and Sunday’s effort may have been the craziest yet.

Gabriel continued in his stint at right back and appears to have now cemented his place as the backup to Hector Bellerin. Jenkinson would appear to be on the way out, Debuchy has disappeared back into the injured/wants-to-leave-but-can’t-find-a-club void and Maitland-Niles was given the run around against Preston. Other than that, the eleven was as expected.

For the most part, the game went as expected too. Arsenal knocked hard on the door of a stout Burnley defence for a long time until eventually, Mustafi got his head to a corner and scored his first Arsenal goal after an hour of play. This is a pretty standard story for an Arsenal home game, one we’ve seen time and time again. Usually in this story we hold off a few nervy attacks from the opposition, pick up a second goal and breathe a sigh of relief. Maybe Granit Xhaka fancied a change up, because just five minutes later he was walking back to the dressing room and looking forward to the beginning of a four game ban.

For the second time this season it was Jon Moss giving him his marching orders, having previously sent him off in ridiculous circumstances against Swansea. Here, Xhaka can probably have less cause for complaint. He lunged in, left the ground and was arguably reckless and out of control. At the end of the day all of those factors are judged subjectively by the referee on the day and in his view it was worthy of a red.

Not only did it hurt us on the day, but it will now hurt us for the next four games. Xhaka will miss the FA Cup tie at Southampton, followed by Premier League games against Watford, Hull and worst of all away at Chelsea. He’s being playing very well recently too and losing him for that huge game at Stamford Bridge is a blow to our chances. Realistically we need a result there to stand any chance of overhauling Chelsea and it’ll be more difficult without him. He’s made some poor decisions so far in his Arsenal career that have led to goals against us, penalties and now, rightly or wrongly, he’ll have picked up seven games worth of suspensions. It’s a real concern for us going forward and needs addressing very quickly.

Fortunately for us, Francis Coquelin had returned from injury to make the bench and came on to replace Xhaka. Unfortunately for us, Francis Coquelin got himself in a tangle and gave away a 92nd minute penalty to give Burnley the chance to equalise. Andre Gray stepped up, the man behind me screamed to Cech to stay in the middle and that’s exactly where the ball went. Inevitably Cech was diving to his left and despite getting a hand on the ball, it hit the net.

Amongst all the angst, Arsène Wenger was sent to the stands after heated words with Anthony Taylor and then Jon Moss. Whilst Moss got the Burnley penalty decision right and had enough cause to send Xhaka off, Wenger had every right to be angry as at 0-0, Moss had waved away a stonewall penalty claim for us. Andre Gray, scorer of the equaliser, came in with a poor challenge in the box, completely missed the ball and took Mustafi out. It was just a textbook ‘this is what a penalty looks like’ case and yet Moss barely reacted.

The problem for Wenger now though, is that following his dismissal from the touchline, he was then seen giving Anthony Taylor a little push as the fourth official was trying to get Wenger to leave the tunnel area. As usual, Taylor was being an overly officious arse-wipe, but Wenger has a bit of a history with getting pushy when the red mist descends and will now likely face a ban and fine. What type of ban is yet to be seen, as the esteemed sports journalists have donned their ‘outraged’ hats and spouted demands for anything between 2-300 games touchline ban, national service, cleaning Mike Riley’s shoes for a year and possibly even being hung, drawn and quartered.

However, back on the pitch, the drama was far from over, as ten man Arsenal pushed for what seemed like an unlikely winner. Despite the seven minutes of added time that had been added following a Burnley injury, time was not on our side. But, this has been a season of crazy finishes for us and in the last of the added minutes, Burnley gave away their own penalty.

Ben Mee was the guilty party, studding Koscielny in the head as he tried to clear a high ball to the back post. Koscielny had a clear chance to head the ball home too, it was an obvious penalty, though Moss took an age to award it. Alexis stepped up and it was a genuinely terrifying moment, given that is success rate with penalties for us is dreadful. On this occasion however, his balls were made of the shiniest steel, as he linked a Panenka down the middle and sprinted off to celebrate. It’s not the first time he’s pulled this out in a pressure situation either, he won the Copa America for Chile in a similar fashion back in 2015.

Whilst the three points were incredibly important, they have come at a cost, with both Xhaka and Wenger to miss important games with bans. Once again, it was also an unconvincing performance against a team with a shocking away record. Burnley have taken just the one point from their combined away games this year, so scraping through with a crazy 98th minute penalty isn’t exactly the form of champions. But we are still hanging in the race somehow and at the moment we’re Chelsea’s closest challengers. I have a feeling that no matter what direction the season goes in from here, it'll be tough on the ticker for us all…

alexis arsenal panenka goal

Teams

Arsenal (4-2-3-1)

Cech, Gabriel, Mustafi (Y), Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka (R), Ramsey, Iwobi (Coquelin 69’), Özil (Bellerin 89’), Alexis Giroud (Welbeck 87’)
Subs
Ospina, Gibbs, Bellerin, Perez, Chamberlain, Welbeck, Coquelin

Burnley (4-4-2)

Heating, Lowton (Y), Keane, Mee, Ward, Boyd, Marney (Y) (Tarkowski 76'), Hendrick (Barton 73'), Defour (Vokes 77'), Gray, Barnes (Y)
Subs
Flanagan, Vokes, Kightly, Robinson, Barton, Tarkowski, Darikwa

Player Ratings

Cech - 7/10 - Didn't have much to do, but yet another penalty passes him by
Gabriel - 7/10 - Doing a pretty good job in relief of Bellerin, solid performance
Koscielny - 7/10 - Dealt with Gray perfectly all day
Mustafi - 7/10 - Had to deal with the shithousery of Barnes' elbows, did well
Monreal - 7/10 - A full house of 7s, mainly for his reaction to Burnley's penalty, dramatic af
Xhaka - 5/10 - The red really spoiled a great performance
Ramsey - 7/10 - Apart from going 'full Ramsey' a couple of times he was good
Iwobi - 6/10 - Very quiet before being pulled to bring Coquelin on
Özil - 7/10 - Had a solid, understated game, assisted Mustafi's goal
Alexis - 8/10 - Extra point for the cheeky penalty
Giroud - 7/10 - Fairly quiet, but a few bits of good link up play
Subs
Coquelin - 4/10 - Oh dear...

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