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Arsenal 0-0 Burnley: Misfiring Gunners suffer blow in top-four race as Clarets claim valuable point

Arsenal lost ground in the race for the top four as they were held to a goalless draw by Burnley at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners dominated the game, attempting 20 shots and having 76 per cent of the possession, but Burnley, who had not played a Premier League fixture in three weeks due to Covid postponements, defended resolutely to claim a valuable point.

Arsenal struggled to convert their dominance into clear chances and on the rare occasions they did prise the visitors open, their finishing was poor, with Alexandre Lacazette spurning their best chance when he sent an Emile Smith Rowe cut-back wide with the goal gaping.

Lacazette was not the only one guilty of wastefulness, however, as Arsenal made it five games without a win in all competitions since the turn of the year, leaving them two points behind fourth-placed Manchester United having played a game more.

Martin Odegaard and Smith Rowe were denied by Nick Pope, who impressed in goal for the visitors, while Bukayo Saka fired wide when he should have hit the target shortly before half-time.

Team news

  • Arsenal’s only change from the Carabao Cup loss to Liverpool saw Rob Holding come in for Takehiro Tomiyasu, with Ben White moving to right-back.
  • Burnley made four changes from their last game, over two weeks ago, with Connor Roberts, Dwight McNeil, Erik Pieters and Matej Vydra all coming into the side.

Burnley rarely threatened from an attacking point of view but did go close to taking the lead inside the first 10 minutes, when Dwight McNeil’s left-wing cross-shot had to be acrobatically pushed over the bar by a scrambling Aaron Ramsdale.

McNeil tested Ramsdale again at his near post early in the second half and fired narrowly over following a late Burnley break in the closing stages but otherwise it was one-way traffic as Arsenal spent long periods camped in the visitors’ half.

Burnley were perhaps fortunate to finish the first period with a full complement of players after Ashley Westwood, already booked for a late lunge on Kieran Tierney, escaped a second yellow card for raising his hands to the face of Gabriel Magalhaes.

But Arsenal, who exited the Carabao Cup against Liverpool on Thursday and also crashed out of the FA Cup earlier this month, only had themselves to blame for failing to break their obstinate opponents down.

The Gunners were without a host of senior players, forcing Mikel Arteta to name five untested academy players among his substitutes, but the lack of spark among his starters was nonetheless concerning, with a smattering of boos greeting the final whistle as the home fans rued a potentially costly slip-up.

Image:
Bukayo Saka sends a shot narrowly wide against Burnley

Analysis: Lacazette’s toil shows striker need

Sky Sports Nick Wright at the Emirates Stadium:

The lack of cutting edge was nothing new for Arsenal. It is now four games without a goal for the Gunners. They have not found the net since Bukayo Saka’s opener against Manchester City on New Year’s Day.

Alexandre Lacazette has started all but one of those four games and his lack of confidence in front of goal was obvious throughout at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

In the first half, he created an excellent opening for himself with a driving forward run, only to slice his effort woefully wide at the end of it. In the second, his miss from Smith Rowe’s cut-back left him with his face buried in the turf.

His link-up play was below-par too at times, the striker’s 71 per cent pass completion rate the lowest among Arsenal players, but with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out of favour and unavailable and Eddie Nketiah only afforded limited opportunities, the need for a new striker before the end of the transfer window is increasingly urgent.

Arsenal have targeted Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic, who has scored 17 goals in 21 Serie A appearances this season, but with their chances of a top-four finish seemingly slipping out of reach, it may be tough to attract a player of his calibre.

The club have just over a week to find a solution.

What’s next?

Arsenal travel to face Wolves at Molineux in the Premier League on Thursday February 10 at 7.45pm while Burnley host Watford at Turf Moor on Saturday February 5 at 6pm in their re-arranged fixture.


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