FA Cup Third Round
Burnley 0 – 2 Arsenal
0 – 1 Eduardo (9)
0 – 2 Bendtner (75)
As expected, the endeavours of Burnley caused Arsenal some problems but in the end, the team barely got into first gear, let alone out of it, to reach the fourth round draw this lunchtime. No doubt the football world was awaiting one of the big four to following on from the upsets of Saturday.
Visiting the lower divisions used to something that the top clubs hated doing, falling prey to a poor surface, decisions or performance coupled with an upsurge in the hosts play. The gap between the top four and the rest of the Premier League is big; it becomes a canyon with the rest of the professional game.
Burnley came out of the traps early and could have had an early goal when Lafferty rattled the crossbar; any downward trajectory on his header may have had a different result. That chances are of a premium in this sort of match was highlighted four minutes later. Eduardo came deep, looking to receive a pass only to spin and run onto Toure’s chip over the top. Controlling the ball with his thigh, he let it and the ground do the work before slotting past Kiraly for a simple finish and one that Burnley will have been disappointed to concede.
Ten minutes later the second which would have killed the game almost arrived. Gilberto met a Denilson corner with a firm header which Hartley deflected toward the near post. Fortunately for the former Chelsea man, it was cleared off the line. Other than Bendtner forcing a save from Kiraly with an overhead kick, there was little more telling pressure on the host’s goal.
The air around Turf Moor ought to be investigated for scientific research purposes, preferably by someone with the surname Traore. Only then can we fully understand why Djimi scored a bizarre own goal for Liverpool a few years back and why Armand tried to emulate that in the first half. His rendition of the ‘Gentlemen’s Excuse Me’ is inexplicable; that Burnley failed to capitalise summed up their afternoon.
The second half settled into the same routine as the first. A lot of Burnley pressure but little telling. It came to life with Kyle Lafferty’s sending off. In the current environment, it was unsurprising that he went. Both feet were off the ground when he launched the tackle, albeit one-footed. The problem with that foot was it went over the top of the ball onto Gilberto. It does not matter if he made vague contact with the ball, it was dangerous. In an object lesson in gracefulness, Owen Coyle accepted the decision noting the position of the referee. Perhaps some of his colleagues higher in the League will take note of this manner but I doubt it.
Eduardo then broke clear following a good interchange of passes with Bendtner and missed a similar chance to that of his goal. Before long though, the roles were reversed and the Dane made no mistake. 2 – 0 and the nails hammered in the coffin of a tie that had long been over.
Tottenham will require those that play to raise their game. Some of the performance yesterday can be pinned on the pitch which deteriorated as the game went on but for the most part, it seemed that the players were just doing enough. Had they conceded, it might have been interesting to see if they could react to that situation but they did not so it is idle speculation.
The midfield would be the area of most concern. Gilberto did not give any indication of being able to scale the heights of yesteryear in performance. I would be gravely concerned if Arsene decided to use him as a centre back in any match for his lack of pace would be sorely exposed, especially by Berbatov on Wednesday. Denilson and Diaby did not really get to grips with the surface although they were only poor by their standards, which are considerably higher than a number of other players. They tried hard but did not control the ball well enough. At Left Back, Traore was poor to start with, improving to average as the game progressed. Senderos was steady through the game and will hopefully take confidence from this.
In the end though, so long as the player’s performance improves for Wednesday, I guess there is not a lot to worry about. The result is all that matters on days like yesterday and safe passage was ensured.