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Arsenal’s weekend caution means Benfica or bust for Arteta

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Even when our expectations are low, we’re still left feeling disappointed. In the latest instalment of what has been a truly wretched campaign, Arsenal fell to yet another – although not surprising – defeat in the Premier League on Sunday, with a Raheem Sterling header after just 72 seconds proving decisive in securing an 18th consecutive win in all competitions for champions-elect Manchester City.

 

 

With one eye on a crucial Europa League clash with Benfica on Thursday, Mikel Arteta made five changes for the visit of Pep Guardiola’s indomitable Citizens, opting to keep key figures such as Gabriel and Emile Smith Rowe in reserve. While these changes reflect both the importance of continental success for our season and the improbability of us beating an in-form City outfit anyway, did the boss perhaps show too much respect to his former employers at the weekend?

 

Despite boasting an uncharacteristically impressive defensive record this season, Arsenal were repeatedly torn apart by City in the opening 30 minutes of the game.

 

 

The visitors dominated the ball for large periods and terrorised our shell-shocked defence with some clever movement from the wide players, while much of our early endeavours involved chasing shadows in a match that bore all the hallmarks of an impending drubbing.

 

 

Arsenal’s timid weekend performance increases the importance of beating Benfica on Thursday.

https://twitter.com/Arsenal/status/1363847634528649217?s=19

However, despite the quality of the opposition, Arsenal simply did not do enough to win once the early pressure had subsided. Registering 45% possession in the game, the Gunners had ample opportunity to gain a foothold on proceedings but failed on each occasion due to poor decision making or a lack of quality in promising areas which killed the momentum of every attack.

 

While we must acknowledge that City are light years ahead of us in almost every department, it was more so because of the frequent committal of basic errors that we failed to take any points.

 

Additionally, some blame can be attributed to the manager, who appeared to set the team up to reduce the margin of defeat rather than show any real desire to at least snatch a point. Granted, any expansive play on our part may have resulted in something of a slaughter, but why not try something a bit different as the clock ticked into added time?

11th defeat of the league season means we lose more ground in the race for a top seven domestic finish, but its most meaningful outcome is the addition of one more egg to the Europa League basket. Having understandably prioritised a win in Athens over the league, whilst overseeing a timid display at the weekend, it’s Benfica or bust for Arteta, and the knives will be out for him if we fail to progress on Thursday.

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English FA explains why Arsenal were denied penalty against Burnley

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The Premier League has claimed that Arsenal were denied a penalty against Burnley because Erik Pieters was in ‘close proximity’ to Nicolas Pepe.

The Gunners were forced to settle for a point at Turf Moor after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s early opener was cancelled out by Chris Wood, who benefitted from a huge mistake by Granit Xhaka.

However, Arsenal felt aggrieved in the 75th minute when Pepe’s touch inside Burnley’s box led the ball to hit Pieters’ outstretched arm, but Mikel Arteta’s side were not awarded a penalty following a VAR review.

Earlier this week, Fulham were involved in a similar incident as Mario Lemina was penalised for handball in the build-up to their disallowed goal against Tottenham.

But in a statement after the game, the Premier League clarified why Arsenal were not given the decision.

‘The ball has hit him from close proximity and he’s had no time to react,’ said the statement. ‘It wasn’t given on-field and the VAR didn’t think it was a clear error.’

 

Arteta, meanwhile, was left in no doubt that his side should have been awarded a penalty. ‘Absolutely,’ the Arsenal manager said after the game.

 ‘I think it is obvious and clear. I think there is no debate about that. ‘If that’s not a penalty, then someone will explain what a penalty is in this league.’

 

 

 

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Just In: Xhaka apologizes to Arsenal Fans for his costly mistake against Burnley

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Granit Xhaka is full of remorse for his horrendous display that led to Burnley goal, that cost Arsenal 2 points today.

He has come to apologize to Arsenal fans via his Official Facebook  Page:

It’s class from him.

 

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Match Facts: Burnley 1 vs 1 Arsenal

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Granit Xhaka gifted Burnley an equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Arsenal, in a match which also saw Erik Pieters’ red card and an Arsenal penalty overturned by VAR.

 

Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang put Arsenal in control with an early finish that snuck through the grasp of Nick Pope (6). However, with Arsenal cruising and Burnley struggling, Xhaka inexplicably decided to play a pass across his own six-yard box which deflected off Chris Wood’s hip and into the unguarded net (39).

The game seemed to be meandering towards an uneventful conclusion but then sparked into life in the final 10 minutes.

 

Arsenal felt they should have been awarded a penalty when Pieters looked to have handled in the area but VAR did not deem it a clear and obvious error. Pieters – in the thick of the action – was then dismissed by referee Andre Marriner and a penalty was awarded when the defender deflected a Nicolas Pepe effort onto the crossbar. However, VAR showed that the block had come off his shoulder and Burnley had a reprieve.

Arsenal still managed to create one last chance in injury-time but Dani Ceballos curled an effort off the foot of the post as Burnley managed to hold on.

Player Ratings

Burnley: Pope (6), Lowton (6), Tarkowski (7), Mee (7), Taylor (6), Brownhill (6), Westwood (6), Gudmundsson (6), McNeil (5), Vydra (7), Wood (6)

 

Subs: Pieters (7), Brady (6), Rodriguez (6)

 

Arsenal: Leno (7), Chambers (6), Tierney (7), Luiz (7), Mari (7), Xhaka (4), Partey (6), Saka (7), Odegaard (6), Willian (6), Aubameyang (7)

 

Subs: Pepe (7), Lacazette (6), Ceballos (6)

 

Man of the match: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

 

Opta stats

  • Burnley have enjoyed just one win in their last 10 games in all competitions (D5 L4), after winning three in a row directly before that.
  • Arsenal have kept only one clean sheet in their last 11 games in all competitions (0-0 v Man Utd in January), after keeping five in a row directly before that.
  • Willian has provided an assist in each of his last three games for Arsenal in all competitions (3 in total), as many as he registered in his previous 25 for the club, while he is the Gunners’ top assister in the Premier League this season (5).
  • Only Cesc Fabregas (18y & 236d) reached 50 Premier League appearances for Arsenal at a younger age than Bukayo Saka (19y & 182d), who played his 50th game today.
  • Pope played his 100th Premier League game for Burnley, the 11th player to hit that milestone for the club.
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