As I predicted yesterday, Arsene Wenger’s team selection wasn’t what I wanted. Two defensive midfielders at home against the worst team in the league? Really? So the game went about as I expected. It could have been easy had they done things differently, but they attacked the same way as always and thus had the same problems. Who would have guessed?
But in the end, the 3-0 scoreline suited Arsenal. Burnley did themselves well, and fought valiantly to keep it scoreless. 70 minutes of nerves and anguish for Arsenal turned into an absolute party in the end though. The final 20 minutes were a joy to watch, reminding me how frustrating the rest of the season has been. That is how most home games should be. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.
Player Ratings (1-10)
Danny Welbeck – 6.5/10 – Welbeck always puts in a fantastic shift defensively. Today, there was one instance where he tracked back all the way to the corner flag to make a tackle. But offensively, he was not on the same page with the midfielders today. In a game like this, where the defense will sit behind the ball, I don’t think Welbeck is the man for the job.
Alexis Sanchez – 9.5/10 – Sanchez is a joy to watch. From the opening whistle, it was clear Sanchez was on his game. He was everywhere. He was the only one creating chances in the first half and was unlucky not to score. But he was clinical in the second half and thoroughly deserved his brace. For me, this was his best game in an Arsenal shirt and that is saying a lot.
Santi Cazorla – 6.5/10 – Cazorla is pressing for goals horribly now and it is affecting his play in other areas. He had a bunch of attempts near goal today and somehow managed not to score. He needs to stop worrying about breaking his goal drought and go back to providing for other players. Goals will come. I would drop him after this performance.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 7.5/10 – The Ox was lively going forward all day. His runs didn’t amount to much, but he was always getting in good positions that should have amounted to more had Arsenal been getting more men into the box. I’m not convinced about his corners, but for the most part, Oxlade-Chamberlain is having a good year.
Mathieu Flamini – 7/10 – Flamini does things. He does a lot of good things. And he does a lot of bad things. He is certainly not inconspicuous on the pitch. Today, he made a bunch of tackles and got forward more than Arteta. He tracked back well and made a couple of key tackles.
Mikel Arteta – 6.5/10 – Arsenal had no need for Arteta today. Where Flamini was noticeable, Arteta was not. I honestly can’t remember him doing much other than a poorly hit left-footed shot. Playing Flamini and Arteta together might be important sometimes, but it certainly should not have happened against Burnley.
Kieran Gibbs – 7.5/10 – In somewhat of a surprise start given his hip injury, Gibbs once again looked good. He is quickly becoming Arsenal’s most reliable defender and he’s getting forward with vigor. His assist on the last goal was lovely.
Nacho Monreal – 7/10 – Monreal had very little to do, but Arsenal kept a clean sheet, so a center back has to get some credit. Burnley didn’t have a physical presence up front, so Monreal wasn’t as troubled as he has been out of his position. Please, though, start Bellerin.
Per Mertesacker – 7.5/10 – Mertesacker played well today. He didn’t have a whole lot to do, but when he was needed, he made the plays. I think this game was a step forward for the big German, who’s been poor this year.
Calum Chambers – 8/10 – Chambers seemed to lack the understanding of what to do in the final third in the first half – getting in good areas before giving the ball away or getting in someone else’s way – but in the second half, he turned it on. In the end, his assist and goal in a three minute span gave Arsenal the win. Congratulations are in order for his first goal.
Wojciech Szczesny – 7/10 – Szczesny may have gotten the clean sheet, but he made a lot of strange decisions today. A couple times he came out too far and were it not for a poor touch by a Burnley player, he would have looked foolish. He’ll need to be sharper going forward.
Aaron Ramsey (63rd) – 7/10 – Ramsey made a difference. He may have given away the ball the first time he touched it, but it was his desire to push forward that got things going for Arsenal. Putting him in for Arteta was the right move. I would expect Ramsey to get the start in midweek.
Lukas Podolski (80th) – 8/10 – I know Podolski only played 10 minutes, but I’m giving him such a high grade because he single-handedly turned that game into the most fun one all year. He came on and nearly scored twice with two absurdly hard-hit volleys – one that hit the framework and another that was saved spectacularly. This performance demands attention. Podolski needs to start soon.
Theo Walcott (80th) – N/A – Wow it’s nice to see Walcott back. He looked pretty good in limited action I thought. I’m expecting big things from him this season. It may take a little while for him to get back to his old ways, but he’ll get there.
What’d you think of the match? Please comment below.