Arsenal returned to winning ways with victory over Burnley in the early Saturday kick-off, in a fiery and physical encounter that left Unai Emery with yet another defensive injury.
Arsenal made a number of changes after their midweek clash with Spurs, and it seemed to work out pretty nicely as they took and held a rare first-half lead. However, Nacho Monreal was forced off with an injury in the opening period, which very much changed the dynamic of the game.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang doubled Arsenal’s lead quickly after the break, but Burnley pulled one back to set up an anxious final half hour. Eventually, Alex Iwobi killed the game with a goal in stoppage time. Overall, a hard-earned three points.
Let’s have a look at our individual player ratings for the game.
1Goalkeeper and Defence
Bernd Leno 7
Leno didn’t have a great number of saves to make, but he came out excellently to win a ball over the top with a header, despite getting clattered by the Burnley man afterwards.
After a disappointing aerial performance against Southampton, it was good to see him looking a bit more confident in that regard this time. There wasn’t anything he could do about the goal.
Sead Kolasinac 8.5
Kolasinac had an excellent game at both ends, despite the difficult circumstances of the match. He wasn’t even passed fully fit until late on, he had to play in both a back-four and as a wing-back during the match, and his defensive partners also changed after Monreal’s departure from the field.
Nonetheless, he set up Arsenal’s first goal, stood up well to Burnley’s physicality, and his passing and link-up play was effective all game. With Monreal’s injury, Emery will need Kolasinac to keep up this kind of form.
Nacho Monreal 6
Monreal seemed to make a solid start to the game, but couldn’t even last the entire first half before going off injured. Unfortunately, the Spaniard has become completely unreliable with injuries this season, which may well force Arsenal into the transfer market for a new centre-back and/or left-back in January.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos 9
Sokratis was fantastic, despite starting the game partnered with a left-back, and ending it alongside a right-back and a central midfielder. He won eight of his 11 duels, and five out of five defensive aerials. He completed all five of his long balls, made a huge 11 clearances and won both of his attempted tackles.
The only negative was that he was perhaps a little over-zealous in his wrestling matches with a variety of Burnley players. His opponents certainly brought just as much aggression as he did though, so we can’t hold that against him too much.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles 7.5
Maitland-Niles bounced back from a slightly disappointing showing against Tottenham with a solid performance on this occasion. He got forward well, going close with a couple of shots on target and linking up well with Mesut Özil all day, in particular for the first goal.
He did play a few lazy infield passes that sparked Burnley counters, which could partly be a product of not having played with these teammates much under Unai Emery. Wipe out those mistakes and he could make a very solid alternative to Hector Bellerin in the Spaniard’s absence with injury.
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