So we managed not to slip on the banana skin or should that be the Burnley skin. Slippery enough as a fixture before the weekend which only got slipperier after the Liverpool result and was downright black ice slippery after Manu, man city and spuds all dropped points; we wobbled in added time but kept our balance and our nerve just long enough to claim all three points and move into second place in what turned out to be a thrilling end to an otherwise dull game.
Burnley are a very organised team, set out extremely well who chased everything down and if that isn’t a big enough compliment they took the game to us for large parts of the first half. I think I say this because I am an Arsenal snob and in general find it difficult to take clubs like Burnley seriously so I was respectfully surprised.
Still, that’s enough benevolence, we won and I am sitting here basking in that sweet glow of victory, the LB household is a happy place, pleasant tones will be used when addressing my girlfriend and children, even the cat can strut its stuff without fear of being kicked for all this week, well, up to the Southampton game anyway.
Waffling, moi? Well you try and find something to say about that first half? Iwobi on the right and Sanchez on the left solved the team selection conundrum; the problem was that both of them naturally are drawn to the middle in an attempt to get more of the ball, the downside of that is that it gets very congested which made it much easier for Burnley to defend against. There was very little goal mouth action, I can’t even think of a decent chance at either end in the first forty five.
The second half started with far more gusto as all our games seem to have done in recent past, am I the only one out there asking why, I tell you if this were cycling there would be a full scale finger pointing drug investigation going on by now but it’s not so we must all assume that its Arsene’s pep talks that are doing the job.
We immediately pinned Burnley back and started turning the pressure screw up. I can’t think of a clear cut chance but we were definitely going in the right direction. The break though came with what I think was Mustafi’s first goal for the club: a well weighted corner by Ozil enabled his fellow countryman to guide his header into the far corner beyond the helpless keeper.
Burnely huffed and puffed but they didn’t look as though they had enough to get back into the game or certainly not without a helping hand which came in the form of Xhaka being an absolute idiot by completely unnecessarily lunging at a Burnley player, giving the ref the perfect opportunity to show off his red card.
Down to ten, and all still seemed possible even with twenty minutes to go, we were spraying the ball around comfortably keeping possession, everything under control, ninety minutes came, Giroud had been replaced by Welbeck and Bellerin had replaced Ozil…..7 minutes, 7 minutes added on time, people started leaving, as even with that ludicrous amount of added time we still had things under control and then we slipped arse over face on the banana skin by giving away the penalty, the Burnley penalty taker was apparently an Arsenal supporter, well if he was that much of one he could have shown it a bit more and done the honourable thing and missed, it wasn’t a well taken penalty but it still found the back of the net.
1-1 with one and a half minutes to go and Chelsea and Tottenham laughing their arses off at us. But were we beaten, oh no we were not; it was all hands to the pump and into the breach. One last charge or so it seemed, a high ball into the box and the good guys gave it their all to get onto the end of it but none more than our captain who was painfully kicked in the head, screams of penalty seemed to fall on deaf ears as the ref peeled away dismissively. The game had gone as had our chance to claw some important points back, a draw against Burnley, oh the ignominy, but then a miracle – the linesman, who I shall be recommending for a medal in the next years honours list, indicated penalty, got to be a knighthood at the very least don’t you think? Sanchez stepped up and calmly chipped it over the goal keeper cue pandemonium.
Cech: still doing the business, about time you saved a pen though Petr. 8
Gabriel: interesting choice this one, does add more steel at the back, curious to see if Wenger continues with this, perfectly good performance. 7
Mustafi: did you see him try and do a scorpion kick in our own 18 yard box? Very funny. He is our lucky charm and a goal to boot. 8
Koscielny: Captain Kos, throwing your face at someone’s boot to get the penalty really is going beyond the call of duty and for that he gets my MOTM. 9
Monreal: a much tidier game today, worked really well with Sanchez down the left flank. 7
Xhaka: his sending off caused a bit of a kafuffle around where I was sitting, as people started clapping him as he walked off, others were absolutely livid with him letting the team down so unnecessarily, guess which side I was on? 4
Ramsey: interesting debate in the week about who should play in the midfield alongside the must be played Özil and when you think about it one of those players has to be able to score goals and there is only one other that is likely to do that and it is Ramsey. He is still not back to his best but who would really be surprised if he scored against Chelsea? 8
Iwobi: Alex obviously drew the short straw and got shunted out on the right wing, not his position at all and unsurprisingly was not very effective. 6
Özil: not a classic from the German Genius but nothing wrong either. 8
Giroud: it doesn’t look like I am going to get my wish of us starting with Perez with his far superior close control but I might get to see Welbeck there which will do just fine and dandy. Giroud is only effective when we are hoofing the ball high into the box and that usually only happens in the second half; he should not be starting, jogged around the pitch reasonably well. 6
Sanchez: yesterday’s game and winning the way we did was made for our little busy bee. 8
An LB offering.