Crisis averted. In fact, Arsenal hardly bothered with it. Despite falling far below their usual standards in attack, scoring a slightly controversial equalizer and even managing to end a tepid game with 10 men after Fábio Vieira was shown red, they still won by some margin after finding out Burnley High crosses into the penalty area were completely overwhelmed.
The disappointment for Vincent Kompany was that his team wasn’t even blown away by some brilliant passing. Arsenal, level on points with Manchester City, simply used their aerial strength to prevail with goals from Leandro Trossard, William Saliba and Oleksandr Zinchenko. Burnley, who stays in 19Th were far too idle to take advantage of Arsenal’s sloppiness.
It took a while for Arsenal to make a real breakthrough against an opponent whose fighting spirit and ambition could not disguise a chronic lack of quality in both penalty areas. Arteta’s side were cautious at first, the pace too slow with Martin Ødegaard missing again, and a sleepy start could have cost them a goal inside eight minutes. Luckily, David Raya was more alert than his teammates and flew left to deny Zeki Amdouni after the winger advanced through the middle and shot from long range.
Arsenal seemed sleepy. Ødegaard’s absence and his persistent passing made it difficult for them to vary the angles of attack, while Burnley managed to limit Bukayo Saka’s influence in the early stages. Saka, fit after limping off the pitch in the midweek win over Sevilla, was initially unable to get to the ball and Arteta felt compelled to lead the winger to the touchline for some chat in the first 20 minutes about its positioning.
But with Burnley having little to offer as an attacking force, Arsenal managed to ease into the competition. Tired of the cautious, inoffensive passing, Saka let his frustration out as he put Arsenal’s first shot on target, forcing James Trafford into a fine save. Zinchenko, who was supposedly playing at left-back, popped up on the right and created a chance for Kai Havertz with a beautiful shot. Five minutes later, Havertz, still unable to impress in the midfield three on the right, appeared to be distressed after missing a good header chance.
It was still not there for the German and he sighed in exasperation as he halted a promising counter-attack with a poor pass in the 36th minuteTh Minute. While Trossard still managed to keep his shot away and force Trafford into another diving stop, Arsenal didn’t make it easy for themselves. They could have gone behind after a mistake by Saliba, but Raya was able to save Johann Berg Gudmundsson.
Arsenal began to push Burnley back and the pressure showed when Saka nodded Zinchenko’s cross over in the 45th minuteTh minute and Trossard, forced into the game as a false nine with Gabriel Jesus missing and Eddie Nketiah on the bench, beat Trafford with a brave header.
Burnley could only wonder how they had managed to lose in the air to two of the smallest players on the pitch. It was a weakness that Arsenal continually tried to exploit. Aware of Trafford’s reluctance to break away from his line and force crosses, they continued to lift high balls into the box and forced Burnley into a series of desperate headers.
The trick was so effective that it gave Arsenal another goal shortly after Burnley equalized in the 54th minuteTh Minute. It was an easy way to avoid drama. Arsenal had threatened to take matters into their own hands by bringing on Burnley at the start of the second half and failed as Luca Koleosho battled with Takehiro Tomiyasu on the left. Koleosho’s attack on Tomiyasu went unpunished, even after a VAR review, and Arsenal were made to pay when Josh Brownhill poorly saved a shot that deflected in off Gabriel.
Time for a breakdown? Not quite. Instead of getting angry about further injustice from the referees, Arsenal remained calm. Gabriel Martinelli immediately broke down the left and tested Trafford. From the resulting corner from Trossard, Trafford batted and Saliba headed in from a yard.
Arsenal tightened their grip. It wasn’t long before another set piece led to more shenanigans in the Burnley defense, allowing Zinchenko to fire a measured shot from 18 yards into the lead. Vieira’s red card after a bad foul on Brownhill in the 83rd minuteapprox Minute made no difference.