Mike Dean likes to wear the ringmasters hat. He enjoys the focus and attention of the crowd, Arsenal particularly, even if it’s for the wrong reasons and he is also not adverse to handing out as many cards as his little overly zealous hands can manage.
Dean showed again with an array of questionable calls that he either saves his worst efforts when refereeing an Arsenal game or that the man is just an incompetent fool.
This was the game that I predicted, with Burnley simply not content with showing up. They always play to their maximum, even if that’s not enough on the odd occasion.
In a fairly evenly contested first half, Arsenal looked the more aggressive and productive of the two but as the half wore on, Arsenal and Burnley seemed incapable of holding on to the ball or just stringing a series of decent passes together. It was all huff and no puff and all it needed was a decent pass or end product but that seemed to be out of the question.
The defensive flaws that have been evident for Arsenal were exposed again as Burnley’s attack saw the backline open up like a bin bag. Players pushing out at all angles and abandoning the shape and as a result, there was a goal to be had by Burnley at some point.
Manager Sean Dyche has obviously made his men watch hours of footage that saw the Arsenal defence scatter like a group of wasps to find the homemade jam at the village fete.
Lacazette put Arsenal in the lead with a magicians finish. 12 minutes in and a Dani Ceballos set-piece found Lacazette after Pieters and Pope made a complete hash of clearing their lines.
The Frenchman fought off the competition and somehow managed to get the ball in the net – we’ll leave the physicists to try to work out how it managed to end up there.
Sublime is the word that comes to mind but that could also be said of Ceballos, who showed exactly why Emery wanted to draft him in on loan.
Unlike the last loaner, Denis Suarez, Ceballos is a beautifully blessed player and the type of midfielder that Arsenal need but don’t have. Ozil may have the vision but the Spaniard has an impressive work rate and ingenuity about him that leaves the troubled German for dead at Arsenal.
Could it be that at this moment in time, there is no way back into the side for Ozil while Ceballos is fit? I’m certainly not desperate for his return with this Arsenal line-up. The problem here is that Ozil could dig in like an Alabama tick and stay until his contract expires, whilst the wizardry of Ceballos will probably return to Spain after this campaign.
Well, who else was it going to be? ?
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 17, 2019
Let’s enjoy him while he’s here because he will be a name that North London will certainly remember on the evidence of this outing. 43 minutes and Burnley got what they deserved.
McNeill’s low shot popped out straight into the path of Ashley Barnes, who cooly beat Leno despite a gallant effort from Guendouzi. 2 minutes later, Reiss Nelson’s goal was disallowed for offside, with Monreal the culprit.
In all honesty, another goal for Arsenal would have been quite unjust at this point. There was a slight feeling of nerves vibrating around the Emirates and Burnley did their level best to make them jangle loudly right up until Aubameyang relieved the pressure.
Having said that, Burnley were still a threat up until the final whistle but they are just short at the top end. On the subject of Aubameyang’s goal, he was destined to score, with two efforts going begging in the second 45. The second produced an excellent save from the extendable Pope after Pepe picked out the Gabonese striker out.
Pope was busy again, saving from Ceballos, who was becoming a bit of a nuisance. But when the Spaniard managed to liberate the ball from Gudmundsson, he found Aubameyang who just went about his business as usual for Arsenal.
Arsenal can afford to be under the cosh while they have this strike force to bail them out, and whilst we hear about the defence being brittle, let’s thank our lucky stars that the duo are under contract and appear happy.
Burnley tried to force a draw but it was clear that they just lack a notable punch. A for effort, C for application and the Clarets can feel justifiably aggrieved not to take something out of this game, but goals weigh heavy compared to effort.
Arsenal are resolving some line-up problems and Emery has a number of intriguing options available, far more than last term. One senses that Willock and Ceballos have probably called time on a much publicised midfielder’s career and the next few years will see Arsenal become the team they so want to be.
David Luiz showed both sides of his game in his Arsenal debut, with the odd oops moment, combined with superb ball play and desire, which has been a feature of his career.
No player on the pitch completed more take-ons during Arsenal's win vs. Burnley than Nicolas Pépé:
• 45 minutes
• 6 attempted
• 4 completed
A sign of things to come. ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/9Ml6aK2NcO
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 17, 2019
The Emirates reserved their appreciation for the undeniable quality of Ceballos by giving him a standing ovation as he left the field (83 minutes in) to be replaced by the ankle snapping Torreira.
By contrast, Burnley have some hard work ahead. They will obviously be disappointed with the result but know that they have all the tools to be mid-table or higher. Until they find that extra bit of quality, they won’t stray far from the script that was written for them.