Arsenal 3 – 1 Burnley: Entertaining Yet Frustrating, Tense Yet Delightful

This was a game where we could have broken all scoring records. It was also a game where we could have ended up with a disappointing draw. That’s an incredible amount of drama for a ninety minute show!

I think this was a strange sort of a game, and if it had been a person, this would have had multiple personality disorder.

Our start was cautious but aggressive. I think we showed Burnley a lot of respect and our midfield stayed somewhat deep. This meant that the visitors got a chance to play in the middle third and left a lot of gap in behind their defence.

In my match reviews, I’ve often wondered why we don’t use this space to get in behind when the opposition tries pressing us in our own half. We finally saw how effective this strategy can be and Walcott and Bendtner made some good runs behind the Burnley defence. Even though we didn’t score from those early bursts, this tactic will help us in future games.

In the first half hour or so, I felt we weren’t getting enough men forward and into the box. Walcott got behind often but just didn’t have targets in the box as Bendtner was alone with three or four defenders. Once we realized Burnley didn’t have any real attacking threat our midfield pushed forward a little more and the half chances started turning into gilt edged ones.

The first goal was a work of genius. We moved the ball beautifully and with patience in the final third. Ultimately, Cesc made a penetrating run through the middle and Nasri’s ball will be a big contender for the assist of the season. Cesc made the finish look ridiculously easy.

When Cesc had to leave the pitch with an injury, it was the second time in consecutive games that I had a discomforting sense of Deja Vu. We had a similar situation in the reverse fixture and even though we were dominating this game, the scoreboard didn’t reflect it.

After the goal we continued pushing forward and we could have scored another four or five. Unfortunately, Bendtner was having one of those days. When a team knows that it should have been dead and buried but instead is just one goal down, it tends to give them some belief that this could be their day.

In the second half the visitors came out with that belief. Burnley started pushing forward with some purpose as they couldn’t have done much worse defensively anyway. The relegation battlers didn’t have enough quality in the final third and were not really troubling us in spite of their endeavour.

The customary gifted goal arrived when least expected. Eboue hacked a ball clear from our box and it bounced harmlessly, just short of the centre circle. Bendtner should have challenged for that one but he seemed to wait for it to bounce, thereby allowing a Burnley defender to attack it. His header went straight through our defence and no one seemed to pick Nugent’s run. Almunia didn’t stand a chance. I was left wondering what our central defenders and defensive mid-fielders were doing!

The team deserves some credit for keeping the spirits high. Given the number of chances we were creating one was certain to go in. After a while, I guess, Theo was tired of setting Bendtner up and decided to take the task upon himself.

He had a couple of good attempts before finally putting one past Jensen. Collecting the ball out wide the youngster cut in across the defenders and placed it in the far corner. No football brain, eh!

It was a brilliant finish, Walcott is a natural and clinical finisher when he is in the zone. I feel our wide players should score these type of goals more often. Arshavin, Rosicky, Nasri and Walcott are all quite capable of doing it.

After the second goal we lost our momentum. Once Rosicky was withdrawn, Arshavin took some time to gel in. Diaby too was struggling to gel with the pace and flow of the game. Neither of the substitutes was poor but our movement just wasn’t as good as it was before they came on.

Then at some stage, we completely lost our game and Burnley started getting back into the game. I could see the negative headlines as there was an element of panic about our game. I could also see that the visitors didn’t pose a serious threat except for set pieces. Almunia had a couple of shaky moments as he wasn’t helped by the defenders.

In the final ten minutes we got our act together and started keeping the ball better. While we didn’t create too many chances, Burnley were pushed back into their half once again. The third goal came out of nothing. Nasri, Walcott and Arshavin were trying to keep the ball from a corner but it broke nicely for the Russian. His finish was sublime. The real quality of that strike can be seen from the angle behind the goal.

Three points and focus on the positives is what we needed. Mission accomplished.

Individual Performances

Almunia: Had a good game except a couple of moments. Those problems are collective in nature so I wouldn’t really blame him.

Eboue: Another good game. Tends to make mistakes but the smaller teams can’t capitalize on them.

Vermaelen: Effective, but partially at fault for the Nugent goal.

Silvestre: Decent game. Should have covered Nugent’s run.

Clichy: Efficient defensively. Didn’t have much to do in attack.

Denilson: Kept it simple. Didn’t make any blunders. Good enough.

Cesc: I think he was really having fun in this game. Walcott and Bendtner gave him enough chances to play his trademark long passes. Nasri and Rosicky were there for the quick short passing.

Nasri: Another brilliant performance. I think he has been getting better and better over the last few games. Really enjoyed the central role. He uses his body really well and being stuck on the wing it limits his talents.

Walcott: Easily the man of the match. Some of his crosses were unbelievable. We should not get carried away as Burnley were really poor. If he can do even half as much on a consistent basis, England will rediscover a star.

Bendtner: Had a really bad day. I don’t want to criticize him too much but these are the kind of games where he should establish himself as a big player.

Rosicky: Moved around effortlessly and interchanged positions with Cesc and Nasri at will. I do feel he is a little casual at times. I’ve not seen him finish too many games, wonder if his fitness levels have been affected.

Subs: Good to have Diaby back. Arshavin missed a few and scored a peach. Eduardo looked out of touch.


18 Responses to Arsenal 3 – 1 Burnley: Entertaining Yet Frustrating, Tense Yet Delightful

  1. Sonu says:

    What was real frustrating though was that Bendtner when subbed came away smiling and shrugging his shoulder and expressed no sense of disappointment at his blunders.The fact that we were in the lead or Burnley are a poor team should not dis-count the fact that he had a real stinker and could have cost us 3 points!.
    I understand completely well that a striker can have his off days and it just doesn’t go in!.I do not have a problem with that,but I do have a problem with Bendtner’s casual nature and his attitude.Before the game he spoke that he will do everything to help Arsenal win the title and win it for Ramsey!.That grit and determination certainly was missing in his game.
    The least he could have done his put his head down when he was subbed and show atleast a little remorse for having missed a plethora of chances.

    • desigunner says:

      Wenger said the right thing in his press conference.

      “I believe at the surface he looks like ‘okay, I missed the chances’, but underneath he is really disappointed. Everybody has a different way to show his emotions, and he hides well, but he cares. Overall in his game, he was quite good…”

      I think that smile was just a way of covering his real emotions.

    • critic says:

      if he gets disappointed it might effect his next game, i t was better to not to get disappointed so that he can remain in high spirit even after such horrendous performance…

  2. jhessart says:

    I think overall the game is good & entertaining. The team play beautifully even without Fabs on. Except for these 2 player:
    Denilson – he’s just running around and pass the ball to the defender too much, it’s like he’s afraid of the ball.
    Bendtner – he’s just chewing his gum and didn’t score! (don’t tell me it’s one of those day, cause it’s been several game he misses a perfect score). If it was RVP, he could score a hattrick easily.

    • desigunner says:

      I’ve seen RvP have similar days as well when he has missed a number of good chances. It happens to everyone.

  3. Steve D. says:

    I don’t agree with people who say Bendtner came off with a don’t-care smile on his face. That smile was one of embarrassment. A case of, ‘if you don’t laugh, you’re cry’. He was touched by the crowd’s support and was shrugging as if to say, “I give up, it just wouldn’t go in for me”. I’ve had days like that on the golf course when the ball won’t go in whatever you do, and I certainly recognised his expression and body language. The poor lad was very embarrassed and probably very angry with himself – but after what happened to Gallas last year when he showed his emotions, I don’t blame him for trying to laugh it off.
    I don’t mean to sound supercilious, but people should learn to read non-verbal communication before condemning the man based on his expressions and body language.
    At least he continued to try and continued to get into the right positions, which is half of a striker’s role. The other half will come as he continues to receive our support and matures.

    • Nischit says:

      I totally agree with you. It was getting to him and the crowd’s support helped him smile ( and the scoreline ) . The smile was definitely an embarrassed one. At first, I thought he had a bad game…Until he came off and Eduardo came on. Eduardo looked lost. We struggled to hold the ball, and we had a dodgy time after he left which leads me to believe that either Arsenal suffered from nerves or Bendtner played better than I thought. I’m gonna give bendy the credit. Walcott and Nasri were outstanding. Nasri did well for the first goal, and after that was our main creative influence throughout. He seems to enjoy himself in the center and in my opninion, he offers a different kind of creativity to cesc. He drives the midfield forward and dribbles through. Pretty weird, considering when on the wing, he tends to slow up the game, but in the center, he speeds our game up. Walcott answered his critics with an excellent performance and lets just hope he keeps this form up for the rest of the season.

      • desigunner says:

        I think Nasri uses his body to get past people and not his feet as the wingers normally do. So being in the center gives him more room to manoeuver.

        Eduardo looked a bit out of touch and surprisingly slow, but our game was generally down and not due to him.

      • Nischit says:

        Hmm yeah. Excellent point. He uses his body a lot, and hopefully, if cesc is missing, he does the job against porto. that said, a midfield of song, cesc, n nasri will inspire confidence in me

    • desigunner says:

      Agree with you about Bendtner. I was really happy the crowd applauded him off the field. For a minute I was worried he might get booed.

      There was that period in between when he went on a mazy run. It showed he was really trying to score and that he cared about the missed chances.

      Wenger summed it up perfectly in his press conference.

  4. aniruddh says:

    Theo Walcott showed real hunger in the game and I feel he has a point to prove to the mindless media and also to the doubters in his own camp. Not being top has its benefits, we wouldn’t get complacent as we tend to generally and there’s always a target to aim for. In the past we have paid heavily for being happy with the top spot and have gone on to lose the title due our mindset, so it could really prove to be a blessing in disguise.

  5. mattzyzy says:

    Good win gunners , great for wenger to put the strongest team available eventhough 60 hours later porto awaits us . the only bad news is manure won too (ahha)..
    The missed chances by the tall dane could have effected on goal difference come end of this season . being more goals score ( should have been 5 or 6) last night is like us getting not three points but 4 !
    Happy with Walcott performance ….

  6. Bongo says:

    I haven’t been able to watch the highlights of the match yet, Bendtner’s misses are too cringe worthy. He had a great game though, he got into great positions, fought hard and defended from the front, from start to finish. People seem to forget that he provided the assist for Walcott’s goal, I seem to remember Van Persie having trouble scoring at the start of the season too but he provided lots of assists which Wenger has stated many times he sees as being just as important. I know it wasn’t a Nasri style pin point pass and that Walcott did all the work for his goal but on paper it counts and it’s the least Nick deserves from an excellent display.

    What yesterday proved for me is that we have missed Walcott in the form he played in yesterday, if this is how he responds to criticism then we should all criticize him constantly. I knew from the moment he reacted to Fox’s tackle that he was gonna tear the place apart and he did, I like Theo when he’s angry.

    What we also saw yesterday was an example of how we would cope without Fabregas and I have to say I am impressed. Perhaps it was his muted although good performances on the wing in previous matches but Burnley were completely unprepared for Nasri to take the reigns so well from Fabregas, he plays brilliantly in the middle, he made some space and continually set up a fresh attack with simple yet effective play. Fabregas needs a rest, so his injury could be a minor blessing, he’ll come back after a few games fresh and raring to go.

    • desigunner says:

      Bendtner’s assist should be noted. I’m sorry I missed that one. I noticed it during the game as it was ironical and somewhat funny. Walcott kept creating for him and he kept missing and when the roles were reversed, Theo scored.

      I have felt for a long time that central midfield is Nasri’s best position. If he plays there with Cesc on a regular basis, both will benefit and so will the team.

  7. Hong_gunner says:

    Was a pretty good game. As much as we’ve seen Burnley, it was obvious from their initial attacking threat that we could afford to play in the middle(as you’ve pointed out, desi) a lot more. And hull will be a similar story, i guess, if either Sol/gallas is back.
    As for our play, Bendtner did everything except score to claim the man of the match award. His overall play was fantastic. Walcott got the plunge of breath he needed after the media nonsense. Though i dont object a few people who critisized him. Thats real world. His moral will be boosted though. Nasri was phenomenal, as usual, and his link-up and understanding with cesc was the fulcrum of our play. Cesc, i hope, is back for porto. But if Diaby is fit, i wont doubt a trio of diaby, denilson and nasri. Diaby will just be the kind of man nasri will get plenty of help from with him strength and driving play. Denilson did his job, what was reqd. Ws impressed with him after so much criticism he’d recieved. Silvestre and thaomas’ comuncation needs imprvment

    • desigunner says:

      I feel Hull away will be a little tougher and physically more taxing.

      Song will be back for the Porto game. It’s good that he got a rest as well. Song, Diaby, Nasri should be too strong for Porto.

  8. Nischit says:

    ooh we’re into single digits. 9 more wins to go

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