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Ox Breaks Poor Run With MOTM Performance

Match Review: Arsenal 2 Burnley 1 - FA Cup 30.01.2016

Progress though we did, Arsenal more stumbled into the FA Cup fifth round than anything else. A much changed team edged past tricky Burnley side that gave us a scare in the Premier League last season. The Championship side, looking to bounce straight back to the Premier League after relegation last year, provided a stern test. Still, a win is a win and right now it’s a welcome one coming off an inauspicious start to the year and while the title challenge is stuttering slightly, the defence of the Cup is still on track.

Wenger’s line up was one with a healthy mix of fringe and first team players. Elneny made his debut and partnered the returning Francis Coquelin in midfield, backing up the manager’s assertion that the Egyptian is more of a box-to-box than a holding midfielder. Elsewhere, Alexis, Chamberlain, Iwobi, Gibbs, Gabriel, Chambers and Ospina all started as Ramsey and Özil weren’t even in the squad and Mertesacker served his one match ban.

The first twenty minutes went according to plan, save for Ospina pulling off a nice stop after Koscielny made a ridiculous error to let Andre Gray in. We kept the ball nicely, settled into the game and got the early breakthrough to calm any nerves out there. The source of the goal, however, was unexpected and even more so the manner in which it was scored. Alexis providing the assist was no surprise, but Calum Chambers was not high on my list of players who I thought would curl a beauty into the far corner with the outside of his boot. He has shown signs in the past that he can unleash a fierce strike from range, but this delicate finish will have stunned most people. We weren’t complaining though!

Alas, Calum might want to work on his clearances and not letting his man get goal-side of him. Ten minutes after being the hero, he contributed to undoing his good work, first failing to clear his lines after a Burnley cross and then allowing Sam Vokes to ghost in front of him and head home the leveller. Honourable mentions in the calamity also go to Koscielny for also failing to clear, Gabriel for getting caught underneath the cross and my personal favourite Gibbs, for somehow contriving to take out Coquelin and leave him writhing on the floor when the ball was nowhere near either player. The perfect summary of the left back’s season so far.

Burnley were trouble for the rest of the first half, but thankfully they faded in the second. Not long after halftime we counter attacked, cut them open and finished the move with Chamberlain cutting a lovely ball back for Alexis to net from inside the six yard box. A classic Arsenal counter and credit to Chamberlain too for providing a great assist and putting in a decent performance too. Despite the fact that the game only finished 2-1, we were well in control and didn’t look like surrendering the lead. We came close to a third too, as Koscielny had an effort from a corner cleared off the line and Walcott somehow made a complete mess of a relatively simple one on one chance. It was by no means emphatic, but we were worthy winners.

So we’re safely through and there were some encouraging performances out there. Chambers showed some of his good side and a bit of the stuff he still needs to work on, while Chamberlain had his first good showing for a long time. Having Alexis, Coquelin and Rosicky back, with Welbeck not far behind, is also a huge boost with a busy fixture list looming.

Elneny’s debut was solid too and he showed promise in his first taste of English football, despite the assertions of ‘journalists’ like Bruce Archer. Archer’s piece for the Express (shock) amounted to nothing more than a vile attempt to trash a young player before he’s even had a chance to show his worth. Judging a player on one game is nonsensical to any reasonable football fan, let alone a supposed Sports Journalist, but it seems to serve Archer’s anti-Wenger agenda. Well this one’s for you Bruce, I hope you aspire to reach Adrian Durham heights of unpleasantness and click-baiting, Wenger will be focussing on trying to win us our third consecutive FA Cup.


Arsenal (4-2-3-1)
Ospina, Chambers, Gabriel, Koscielny (Y), Gibbs, Elneny, Coquelin (Arteta 71’), Chamberlain, Iwobi (Rosicky 71’), Alexis (Walcott 78’), Giroud
Cech, Bellerin, Monreal, Arteta, Rosicky, Campbell, Walcott

Burnley (4-4-2)
Heaton, Darikwa, Keane, Mee, Ward, Boyd (Kightly 80’), Jones (Barton 67’), Ulvestad, Arfield (Y), Vokes (Hennings 75’), Gray
Robinson, Lowton, Duff, Kightly, Barton, Taylor, Hennings

Player Ratings

Ospina - 7/10 - Made an important save and looked surprisingly assured
Chambers - 7/10 - Would have had an 8, but some dodgy defending pegged him back
Gabriel - 7/10 - Reasonably solid, still trying to form a partnership with Koscielny
Koscielny - 6/10 - Worryingly inconsistent, has great moments and shockers in the same game
Gibbs - 6/10 - Still can’t get over him taking out his own player…
Coquelin - 7/10 - Solid return to action, great to have him back
Elneny - 7/10 - Nothing spectacular, but a tidy showing
Chamberlain - 8/10 - Our man of the match, hopefully the first of many good performances
Iwobi - 7/10 - Showed some real promise, still raw but very talented
Alexis - 7/10 - Still not fully match fit, but the goal will give him a great boost
Giroud - 7/10 - A bit on the periphery today, but did some good work off the ball for our winner
Arteta - 6/10 - Not bad, but didn’t really have to get hugely involved
Rosicky - 6/10 - Ditto, great to have him back though
Walcott - N/A - Lucky to get an N/A rather than a -1 for his terrible miss

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Tags: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Match Review, FA Cup, Match Report, Arsenal vs Burnley, Elneny Debut, Chambers goal, Alexis goal

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