Monday, May 20, 2024

Burnley 0-5 Arsenal: This is a very good team

Match reportPlayer ratingsArteta reactionVideo

After giving West Ham six of the best last week, Arsenal put in a five star performance in the rain and shine of Burnley yesterday.

With only Emile Smith Rowe back in the squad from our collection of injured players, it wasn’t a surprise that Mikel Arteta named an unchanged team. They were outstanding against the Hammers, and yesterday it took just five minutes to put their stamp on the game. Gabriel Martinelli got down the left hand side, played it across the box to Martin Odegaard, and the skipper’s half-volleyed finish into the bottom corner was hit with the kind of power and precision that made it unstoppable.

It had seemed that in the opening few minutes Burnley’s plan was to match Arsenal’s quality with some physicality, but that faded pretty quickly. We had moments, when Leandro Trossard went through for example, and Martinelli caused his full-back some problems, but the danger we caused them didn’t quite turn into clear chances. Trossard had a fresh air shot in front of goal when he should have made it 2-0, and shortly afterwards won a penalty after being played in behind by Kai Havertz whose movement caused Burnley problems all afternoon. There’s not a lot of contact, but it’s a clumsy lunge from the defender.

Odegaard stepped up, put the ball down, and Bukayo Saka stepped up to take his second penalty in successive games. James Trafford went the right way, and while you wouldn’t exactly say it was a mistake from the keeper, I’d say he was a bit frustrated with himself that he didn’t keep it out. That made it 2-0 at the break, and I don’t think it was anything less than Arsenal deserved based on the performance.

If Burnley’s half-time team talk was about keeping it tight early on and seeing if they could nick a goal to get back into the game, we put a fork in that pretty quickly. Havertz found Odegaard, he played it to Saka and you almost could see the defender thinking ‘I can’t let him cut back on his favoured left foot’. Part of what makes him so special is his ability (and willingness) to use his right foot, and he rifled the ball into the roof of the net to make it 3-0. A brilliant finish to pretty much seal the game at that point.

There was a long stoppage when Burnley’s Aaron Ramsey landed awkwardly after a challenge from Odegaard. The TV replays showed his knee buckle as he landed, and he needed oxygen before being stretchered off. If that was an Arsenal player we’d all be fearing the worst this morning, so let’s hope it not as serious as it looks (but a speedy recovery if it is).

There then followed an almost comical sequence of Trossard missing chance after chance. Martinelli bursting through, getting tackled, then somehow providing an assist-worthy pass while on his arse was quite something – not least because the Belgian squirted the ball beyond the post when it looked easier to score. Eventually he found his range, the ball coming to him off a defender after we’d caused the Burnley defence problems, and he made no mistake for 4-0.

Winning games as well as this is obviously a lot of fun, but one of the other benefits (aside from really improving goal difference) is it gives the manager the ability to make changes. Rather than asking the likes of Saka and Rice to give 110% for 90+ minutes, we can save their legs a bit and give a chance to some others. I don’t think any of the subs were particularly impressive or anything, but with the Champions League starting up again, keeping fuel in the tank of our best players is really important.

The fifth came from a long throw by Jakub Kiwior, who had another impressive day at left-back and looks a lot more settled now. He sent Havertz down the left, and the German cut into the box, nutmegged a defender, and finished with his right foot. I was happy for him to make that contribution, because I think his overall performance deserved it. He was involved in a lot of what we did well yesterday, the interchanging of him and Trossard is a tactical development that teams haven’t quite figured out yet, and it was just a lovely goal to put the icing on the cake.

Afterwards, Mikel Arteta said:

I’m really happy obviously with the performance and the result, with the individual and collective as well. The contribution of every single player has been very, very good and the fact that the team looked like it wanted more. They weren’t satisfied, they wanted to score more and didn’t want to concede a goal, so I’m really pleased to see that consistency.

It’s hard to pick out individuals on a day when so many played well, but I have to give a nod to Odegaard whose form of late has been superb. Earlier in the season it felt like he was just taking a touch too many at times. Now the ball goes where it needs to exactly on time, and his ability to squeeze the ball into spaces is outstanding. No player has made more passes into the penalty area this season (not including set-pieces), and he feels fundamental to how this team clicks. He’s not alone, obviously, pretty much everyone is playing well right now, but he – along with Saka – just have something a bit extra that we’re going to need if we’re gonna go the distance in this title race.

Since the Dubai trip, Arsenal have played 5, won 5, scored 21, conceded 2, and after yesterday sit 2 points ahead of Man City with our goal difference 5 better than theirs. There’s a lot still to do, obviously, but it’s been an outstanding reaction to that run of poor form, which I always thought was anomalous to what we’d seen from this team until then. I think it’s safe to say now though that we’ve gone up a level, and keeping this kind of consistency between now and May will be the aim. Whether we can do it or not we’ll have to wait and see, but there’s no question this is a very, very good Arsenal side, and one we should enjoy as much as possible.

So, for the players and the manager, it’s a question of ‘job done’, putting this one behind them, and turning the focus completely to the midweek trip to Porto. As fans we can enjoy it a bit longer, of course, and you can join James and I for an Arsecast Extra tomorrow to relive it all again.

For now, have a great Sunday folks.

Related articles

Share article

Featured on NewsNow

Support Arseblog

Latest posts

Latest Arsecast