Arsenal 2 – 1 Burnley
Sean Dyche chatted sh*t after the game about simulation. Of course he did; his team lost.
The real target of his ire was his own player’s stupidity. Instead of criticising Ashley Barnes stupidity, he thought Sead Kolasinac an easy target. Not that he mentioned him by name; he’s seen the video.
Barnes pulled Kola, no doubt about the contact. In those circumstances, with Whistle-Happy Dean in control, it was always going to be a free-kick. I’d have been cross if Kola hadn’t tumbled, knowing the final whistle was imminent.
We haven’t indulged in that kind of sh*housery since Peter Storey had his ‘666’ birthmark removed.
The Gruffalo is a plank, pure and simple. No player sat there thinking, “Oooh, I’ve got one warning about sh*thousery; I’ll just collect a booking and subsequent club fine” simply because that yellow card puts them one mistimed tackle from a red.
Still, you have to admire Dyche’s willingness to charge into Pulis’ throne as Goonerverse’s pantomime villain. It’s been kinda boring without one. Mustafi doesn’t count before you ask; his is unintentional villainy.
Football wisdom has it that winning whilst playing badly is the sign of champions. We won’t be champions; we didn’t play badly for a start, just in patches. We’re still finding our way into the season, with spells of numbing football – preseason football – surfacing.
Next weekend, we need a leap in our intensity, in concentration. Liverpool’s prayers that Alisson will recover seem set to be unanswered so their defence is as vulnerable as ours. Anyone for a 5 – 4 cracker? I’m just not certain who will win.
Leno’s distribution yesterday was inconsistent; poor under the pressure exerted from goal-kicks, better with time on his hands. It will improve with confidence as he gets used to the new era of football.
Let’s Talk About The Match
There are lies, damn lies and football statistics. Burnley had twice as many shots on goal but half the number of ours on target. Which of the two stats are you happier with?
Of course, it’s the latter; the only one which matters is, as ever, the final score. 2 – 1 might have been 3 – 1 were it not for those pesky officials who spotted Nacho Monreal’s toenail being offside. VAR and the lino conspired against leaving Reiss Nelson, quiet otherwise, still waiting for his first Arsenal goal.
He nearly got us out of gaol; we’d thrown away the deserved lead given to us by Alexandre Lacazette. That was a penalty, by the way; maybe the Gruffalo needs to worry about the stupid fouls his team are giving away.
The concern with the Burnley’s goal is how easily we were susceptible to the counter-attack. Last season hasn’t ended yet, has it? The issue is clouded with Emery playing without a defensive midfielder. No, that’s not a cheap jibe at Granit Xhaka; he wasn’t fit.
That was a cheap jibe at Granit Xhaka, however.
Which brings us to the enjoyable points of yesterday and that was most of the game. Certainly, the bits when Dani Ceballos is in possession. I’m far from being the only one who wants Real Madrid to go on a spending spree to the point where he has no future at the Bernabeu.
He has a very bright one at the Emirates. So bright, match tickets ought to come with shades.
Victory came thanks to a goal apiece for Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Naturally, two assists for Ceballos. The first from a corner which found an Arsenal player, which is something worth celebrating in itself.
I Cannot Think Of A Better Home Debut
Lacazette ignored the distraction of a marauding Monreal to control the ball and as he was hauled to the ground, turned and shot powerfully through the Pope’s legs. There’s a catholic joke in there somewhere, screaming to stay in. I’ll oblige this morning.
The second is the dogged determination that inspires others. Ceballos, unusually, ceded possession cheaply. Before Gudmonsson settled on the ball and thought about a counterattack, Ceballos was on him and winning the ball back.
Aubameyang said “thank you very much” and flew at the Clarets defence before scoring with some aplomb from the edge of the area. Game over.
Everything Ceballos touched turned goldish in colour. He rarely wasted possession with quick feet and an even quicker mind evident. Dribbling, passing; you name it, he was a wide range of everything.
The only genuine improvement is in his finishing and even then, the willingness to shoot from anywhere is at once refreshing and a blessed relief.
His ball control is mesmerising. The synthetic pigskin is glued to his boot the moment he brings it under his spell, ready to cast magic with an ease that makes Harry Potter puke.
He treats the ball reverentially. It isn’t a hot potato, it is caressed through his strides; never so far ahead that he loses control, never so close that he falls over it. It is just there; tantalising opponents with glimpses, in the same way, Robert Pires taunted the Premier League all those years ago.
If David Luiz is a defensive inspiration, Ceballos occupies a god-like status.
I cannot think of a more impressive home debut and the rapturous applause which hailed his departure from the action underlines that.
C’mere, There’s More
Nicolas Pepe had to be content with another cameo from the bench. He improved as he got into the game with nutmegs and flashes of pace as he ran at the Burnley defence. A full debut at Anfield? It’s got to be on the cards, especially as we will be playing on the break.
And Luiz was a calming in a back four which was a bit jittery. As per usual, that nervousness was of our own making. We’ll get better as the season progresses; we need to by next weekend, if that’s not too much to ask for.
Overall, it’s a good three points to claim; a decent performance but plenty to work on.
To answer the question about comparing six points after two games to none last season; better to look at the corresponding fixtures. We took six then, we have six now; business as usual.