Arsenal needed a late penalty to beat a resilient Burnley but came away from Turf Moor with all the points, moving up to 4th place.
The A-team returned, although Mesut Ozil was a mysteriously absent with illness despite looking perfectly fine in training the day before. Alex Iwobi came into the attack in his place, which meant Ainsley Maitland-Niles would have another appearance on the bench.
The hosts lined-up with a 4-4-1-1, with Jeff Hendrick supporting Ashley Barnes up front. Jack Cork, who was having an excellent season for Burnley, partnered Steven Defour in midfield. In defence, James Tarkowski and Ben Mee had only conceded two goals at home all season.
A grey and frigid Turf Moor welcomed the two sides. The first five minutes suggested a bitty game without much in the way of midfield play. Burnley got some encouragement when they seized on a loose pass from Koscielny out of defence. Jeff Hendrick then floated a ball to the back-post for Ashley Barnes to attack, but Koscielny was able to get back and head the cross away. Minutes later, Arsenal had their first shot of the game. Alexis picked up the ball outside the penalty area, turned and had an effort deflected wide for a corner.
Burnley’s threat from crosses was all too apparent. Robbie Brady whipped in a dangerous cross from the left hand side for Barnes, who was shoved over by Monreal. Fortunately for the Spaniard, Barnes was offside.
Fifteen minutes gone and Burnley almost took the lead. They seized the ball deep in Arsenal’s half and worked the ball out to Gudmundsson on the right. He tricked his way past the last defender, before smacking a shot against the near post.
Three minutes later, Lacazette received the ball from a throw-in and rolled Tarkowski. He flashed a ball across goal to Ramsey, but his first time shot went way over the ball. Burnley then went down the other end and won a corner. Arsenal managed to clear, but Burnley came forward again, and swung in a deep cross to Hendrick. Cech had to come out and smother it for another corner.
Nearly a quarter-way into the game, Arsenal managed their first spell of possession. Burnley, though, had a compact block in front of their goal and forced Arsenal into side ways passes. Burnley looked sharp and likely to snap up any loose touch or pass.
Arsenal then managed to win a corner. It was typically poor, but Burnley made a mess of the clearance. It fell to Monreal from a good 25-yards and he put his foot through it. Surprisingly, his shot was decent, and went just wide of the post.
Thirty minutes gone and Arsenal were starting to pop the ball around at pace. Some excellent combination play down the right created an opening for Alexis, but he was closed down quickly by Tarkowski. Arsenal came forward again with more quick passing, but the attack came to an end when Monreal decided to try curl one in with his right foot. By this point, the Spaniard had more shots than anyone.
Burnley won a free-kick in a dangerous position when Koscielny stretched for a sliced clearance and caught Barnes. Brady struck the dead ball well, but Cech had the shot covered. The resultant corner was cleared by Alexis, amid calls for a handball. Replays showed it was just immaculate control with his chest instead.
Three minutes before half-time, Ramsey took a pot-shot from distance and earned a corner. Burnley cleared it, but only as far as Ramsey, who swung it back in for Kolasinac to head wide of the post.
It was 0-0 at half-time, and every bit the game we expected: very physical and very difficult to create chances. Arsenal had defended well, but were only having shots from distance.
Arsenal had their first chance of the second half when Alexis managed to escape down the left hand side. He flipped the ball back to a supporting Kolasinac, who shifted the ball onto his left foot and had a shot blocked. Minutes later, Lacazette had his first shot of the game. He received it on the edge of the D, worked some space and hit a tame effort at Pope.
We were stating to have much more of the ball in Burnley’s half and putting them under sustained pressure. Much of Arsenal’s best play was coming down their left, but Burnley had enough players back to cut out any crosses.
While Arsenal were working the ball on the edge of the Burnley box, chances were rare. Lacazette had another effort from outside the box deflected out for a corner. Arsenal came forward with more possession amid sustained boos from the Burnley fans after Xhaka made a clean tackle. However, the attack came to an end when Ramsey volleyed a difficult chance over the bar.
65 minutes gone, Jack Wilshere was introduced for Alex Iwobi in an attempt to provide more craft to the Arsenal attack. Arsenal then had a decent shout for a penalty. Lacazette played Bellerin down the right hand side. He was tracked all the way by Brady, who slid in and came away with the ball. It looked as if he got none of the ball, but Lee Mason, of course, thought otherwise.
77 minutes gone, Sean Dyche clearly thought the game was there to be won as he brought off Steven Defour for another striker in Chris Wood. Wenger also made a chance, taking off Lacazette, who fed on scraps all game, for Danny Welbeck.
Arsenal managed to make a decent opening after a quick one-two between Wilshere and Alexis. Wilshere got the ball back on the edge of the Burnley box, and his shot ricocheted wide of the Burnley goal. Unfortunately, the corner came to nothing.
With minutes to go, Arsenal were reduced to relying on Laurent Koscielny whipping in crosses to the back post. They were looking for one moment of quality in the final third. It almost came when Koscielny drilled a ball into the box. Ramsey picked it up and managed to turn, but his shot was blocked by Mee.
Into the first minute of extra time, Xhaka swung a ball deep into Burnley’s box to find the run of Kolasinac. He headed it back across goal for Ramsey, who was bundled over Tarkowski. Wonder of wonders, the referee gave Arsenal a penalty. Alexis stepped up… and squeezed it past Pope! Arsenal had won it right at the death at Turf Moor again.