How can one team play two successive league games so differently?
Last week saw us pound Chelsea with diamond speckled fists, and yet this game saw us frustrated and slow-paced for the most part, and the overall affair was a turgid 90mins.
There are many positives to take though, especially when victory is snatched from the reality of dropped points – and in such a fortuitous manner!
There was much speculation regarding the only goal of the game. Was it scored with a handball? Was there too much additional time? Was Koscielny offside?
Sean Dyche believed all three, and although replays showed that there was a hint of offside as Koscielny lurked on the goal line, and that it looked to have rebounded off his elbow, the officials do not have the luxury of replays.
So, that makes five league wins on the bounce for us, and after Tottenham dismantled City, we now stand just two points from the top.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and this old adage succinctly summed up Wengers team selection for the game. No changes from the midweek win over Basel, aside from Cech back with the gloves – and the same side which beat Chelsea last weekend.
Koscielny is our big game player
Whenever a big goal is needed, invariably our titan of a defender steps up with the goods. The wins on the last day of the season Vs Newcastle and West Brom? Kos. Last month when we were a goal down Vs the Saints? The Boss. Once again it was he who made the difference, and this shows the mentality of the man. He will never say die.
We struggled? Credit to Burnley.
We huffed, we puffed, but we couldn’t break down the Clarets resolute backline. Only three goals conceded in their last 17 home games, and unbeaten before this game, Dyche’s team are a real test at Turf Moor. Critics will point to our blunted attack, but this was as much down to Burnley as our own failings. They weren’t afraid to dabble in the dark arts either….
Özil had a bad day at the office.
The man that makes us tick in attack struggled badly. His normally exquisite touch deserted him, and every attempt to pick Burnley’s lock was unsuccessful. When Mesut doesn’t play, we normally don’t turn up too, and this was the case. Hopefully the international break will reinvigorate him.
Standing up to the rough stuff.
Burnley broke down attack after attack with a well timed foul, and it happened so often. This left us with set-pieces from too large a distance as to pose any threat, but frustration grew. The professional fouling from Burnley played as big a part in the game as anything else. Nothing to complain about though. It just made for a fractured game with no rhythm – exactly what Dyche wanted. Their home record shows these tactics work a treat.
Mustafi had a blinder
Shkodran had a running battle with Welsh striker Sam Vokes, and the physical tussles that ensued should fill Gooners with some cheer. The new recruit has adapted quickly to the demands of the Premiership, and he subdued Vokes for the majority. His defensive partner Koscielny will steal the headlines, but this time, Mustafi deserves the plaudits.