Arsenal 3 – 1 Burnley
When the remake of Das Boot becomes reality, the casting director could do worse than look at Unai Emery’s Arsenal. Or at least that is Sean Dyche’s opinion. Arsenal, he claimed, dive, dive, dive. No examples, just a wild accusations.
Match of the Day struggled to find examples, ending up showing Laurel and Hardy pratfalls from Lichtsteiner and Xhaka. No mention of Barnes grappling with Sokratis and the current fad of pulling Mateo Guendouzi’s hair. One booking for losing to two falls is hardly a fair return for his WWE audition.
Dyche failed miserably to emulate Stoke RFC and Blackeye Rovers. One can only surmise he was left so embarrassed by his players’ efforts that he felt compelled to blame Arsenal.
More on that later.
The game itself was largely forgettable. Perhaps that’s harsh; routine is a better word. Mesut Özil returned to the XI, captaining the side and justifying his selection within fifteen minutes. Ainsley Maitland-Niles flick created space for the German whose lofted pass was cut back from the byline by Kolasinac. Aubameyang made no mistake and Burnley’s plan to frustrate was out of the window.
Kolasinac had his best game for some time, robbed of the Man of the Match accolade by Sokratis’ willingness to meet Burnley’s sh*thousery with his own dark arts. He’s just a Greek Harry Potter.
Both sides had presentable opportunities before Aubameyang scored but for the first half, that was as good as it got Burnley. Arsenal probed but failed to breakthrough.
However, 18 games into the season, the halftime whistle blew with Arsenal in the lead. Anyone would think it was Christmas. It’s a weight off our shoulders, in much the same way the first goal in front of the North Bank mural.
Double or Quits
Bums were barely back on seats in the second half when Arsenal doubled their lead. A sweeping move ended with Aubameyang rifling the ball home, the power of the shot beating heart.
With Monreal departing due to injury in the first half, Lichtsteiner became the next makeshift centre-back. He isn’t as comfortable out of his full-back comfort zone and Barnes scoring for Burnley didn’t improve his mood.
We struggled to control the game, mainly because we weren’t surefooted in defence. Lucas Torreira couldn’t steady the ship despite his trademark tenacity; Burnley’s desperation for an equaliser just made them more agricultural in their approach.
Instead, Arsenal sealed three points late on. Mesut Özil shot deflected into the path of Alex Iwobi, who fired home. There are a couple of points here. Firstly, I don’t care if you thought Iwobi was offside; he wasn’t, that’s why the score is 3 – 1. And, Özil’s shot can be counted as an assist if you want. It doesn’t improve his recent performances one jot. He’s a great player when the mood takes him but it hasn’t on too many occasions.
Which brings us back to Dyche’s whinging. He and Barnes gave extraordinary post-match interviews. It’s one thing to use Luddite tactics and sh*thousery but when you get turned over by more intelligent coaches and footballers, at least have the balls to be dignified in defeat. If Dyche and his players are not going to do that, then the Premier League can’t be sot of them soon enough.
As for Barnes pulling Giendouzi’s hair, it wasn’t spotted by the match official so wouldn’t it be good if the no-mark ended up on the wrong end of retrospective action from the FA. T0sser.