Arsenal couldn’t break down a tough Burnley side, showing their desperate need for a striker, and a referee who knows the rules of the game.
It’s doubtful that those ‘journalists’ who lost their sh*t over Arsenal having a game postponed against Tottenham, because they didn’t have enough players, will be lauding Mikel Arteta for packing his bench with youngsters to get this game on.
Five of Arsenal’s subs have never played a minute of Premier League football and four have never played a minute for Arsenal at all.
That sort of praise is only for Marcelo Bielsa, though, in tweets that are absolutely nothing to do with Arsenal:
Hats off to Leeds for getting on with things despite having 9 or 10 senior players out injured.
Took on and beat West Ham away when their bench comprised Rodrigo and several embryos. Bielsa divides opinion (I am a huge fan) but is a man of absolute, admirable integrity.
— Barry Glendenning (@bglendenning) January 16, 2022
Arsenal started Benjamin White at right-back, with Calum Chambers clearly not fit but on the bench to make up numbers.
He wasn’t the only one not operating at 100%.
Arsenal probably could have got this game called off, too, but seeing as they sent another two players on loan (who never played anyway) and they aren’t allowed to do that according to swathes of journalists and pundits, it wasn’t worth the grief.
In the end, Arteta named a bench that looked like this – Leno, Tavares (21), Chambers (27), Alebiosu (20), Patino (18), Salah-Eddine (18), Hutchinson (18), Biereth (18), Nketiah (22).
That’s an average age of 20.25 for the outfield players, brought up from 19.2 because of Chambers practically being a pensioner.
The main talking point of the first half was how many times we all said ‘…if that was Granit Xhaka…’.
Ashley Westwood should have been sent off twice in the first half alone, but, of course, he wasn’t as he isn’t called Granit Xhaka.
The straight red challenge in the photo above was punished only with a yellow and then the ref just ignored him clotheslining Gabriel not much later (photo below).
The game was a perfect example of why Arsenal get more red cards than Burnley (and everyone else).
It is, of course, far from the first time this season that we’ve seen a stamp on an Arsenal player go without the proper punishment, but this was at least a yellow and a freekick.
When Takehiro Tomiysau was stamped on the face, it was neither.
Still, Arsenal were toothless and only have themselves to blame for failing to take all three points in this game.
Lacazette had one of those afternoons when not much went right and it was certainly a game Arsenal could have done with Burnley being down to 10 men.
Legs were tired and players were clearly not fit, nor helped by the ref treating the game as if it was ‘one freekick for you, one freekick for them’.
The second half saw a more sustained effort from Arsenal to break through a stubborn Burnley defence, but they were a team who had come to the Emirates to stop their opposition playing football rather than to indulge in the pastime themselves.
As Arsenal battered at the Burnley door, only to watch effort after effort drift wide or over, the outcome seemed already pre-determined.
We’ve seen this movie a thousand times before and we are, in essence, the anti-Manchester United when it comes to scoring late winners.
Nothing came, except the very clear message that if Arsenal don’t buy a striker in this window, they have no chance of returning to the top four.
Arsenal player ratings vs Burnley (half-time)
- Aaron Ramsdale (8.0)
- Kieran Tierney 7.5 (7.0)
- Gabriel 7.1 (6.6)
- Rob Holding 6.6 (6.8)
- Benjamin White 7.4 (6.8)
- Albert Sambi Lokonga 7.0 (6.7)
- Gabriel Martinelli 6.5 (6.1)
- Emile Smith Rowe 6.8 (6.4)
- Martin Odegaard 7.1 (6.7)
- Bukayo Saka 7.1 (6.7)
- Alexandre Lacazette 7.1 (6.7)
Arsenal subs vs Burnley
- Eddie Nketiah 6.1