Alexis Sanchez’s cool penalty saved Arsenal, particularly Granit Xhaka’s, blushes as Arsenal bumped over the line against a resolute Burnley defence. Arsenal were a touch fortunate to come away with a win, in a game that only woke up in the second half, highlighting Arsenal’s growing trend of unhurried starts.
Our first half performances are becoming a concern, at the weekend Arsenal again struggled to get out of second gear until the second half, in a game where we continually had difficulty breaking down Burnley. This worry has been somewhat cancelled out by our ever present tendency to score late goals – as demonstrated against Burnley twice now.
It was ironic for us to score a headed goal from a set piece, against a side such as Burnley, and it pleased me more that it came from Mustafi, who is shaping up to become an assured centre half that has adapted swiftly to the Premier League. Mustafi was a good purchase from Wenger, and at just 24 is certainly one for the long term too – much like Koscielny when he joined.
Xhaka exemplified his rash style of play with his sending off. Typical of Arsenal to not make things easy – however I cannot argue with the colour of card. Once Xhaka cuts down on his disciplinary record, he will become an invaluable asset to our side, but currently his rate of 3 or so red cards a season could see him miss 9 games in a league season – equivalent to almost a quarter (24% is the actual figure).
Burnley grew in confidence, one they had the man advantage, but Xhaka’s replacement Coquilen was unfortunate to give away the penalty that saw Burnley draw level. Another soft penalty, and these kind of challenges bitterly frustrate me. I don’t see them as penalties the player has seen the leg and gone down in an unnatural fashion. If Coquelin had made that same challenge on the half way line, the player wouldn’t go down instead continuing on with the ball.
Our penalty was fortunate too, with Koscielny being offside, however it was a foul by Mee. Sanchez coolly converted and his celebration was electric – a polar opposite of his emotions on the bench against Swansea. Overall it was a sense of relief to see us win, and go up to second, who knows maybe we can hunt Chelsea down.