Arsenal beat Burnley two goals to one late into stoppage time with a successful panenka winner by Alexis Sanchez the highlight of the match.
Arsenal seemed to be on their way to a hard-fought 1-0 win over Burnley thanks to an early second-half strike from German international Shkodran Mustafi when disaster struck. Burnley were awarded a penalty in stoppage time, one Sean Dyche’s side converted to peg the Gunners back.
With the Gunners set to end with just 1 point, the game got riddled into controversy even further when a move involving an offside resulted in Arsenal being awarded a penalty, which Alexis Sanchez converted with a calm panenka to hand the Gunners three valuable points.
The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the significant talking points to emerge from the controversial result.
Arsenal fans may criticise Sanchez for the contract standoff he is in with the club currently. But no one can doubt the player’s outrageous talent and passion for the game. On Sunday, he delivered one of the highlights of the new calendar year for the Gooners.
Late into stoppage time as Arsenal were awarded a penalty, Alexis Sanchez stepped up and dared to attempt a panenka with three points on the line. And the successful panenka perfectly summarised the Chilean’s brand of football – calm and bold.
Alexis Sanchez’s ice cool panenka penalty in the last minute ☄️ pic.twitter.com/pS0omNNcTq
— abdeè (@abdirahmanali96) January 22, 2017
The goal also means that Alexis Sanchez is now ahead of his other rivals for the accolade of the leading goalscorer in the current Premier League campaign, level with Diego Costa on 15 goals. The goal puts Arsenal into second going into a tough 30 days or so with many important fixtures lined up.
Burnley the brave bottlers
Sean Dyche’s men do present an oxymoron. Unlike their home games where they play a very conservative brand of football, they have always aimed to play a free-flowing game on their trips, something which is contrary to what almost every other club barring the top six or seven do everywhere.
They’re brave in trying to attack while on an away trip, something they showed again at the Emirates. And this time, they almost got a result if not for an unfortunate penalty decision. However, they have also been unable to secure a win on their trips, bottling chances such as on Sunday night.
The over-reliance on home form can sometimes come back to haunt clubs and we wonder how far up the table Burnley would have been had they played the same conservative form of football on their away trips as well.
Granit’s done it, again!
No, Xhaka hasn’t scored another 35-yard screamer. The Swiss international has become famous for two reasons – scoring belters and earning unnecessary sanctions. And on Sunday, he put his Arsenal side in danger yet again as the Gunners were left with 10 men to save their thin 1-0 lead with around half an hour to go.
Never mind his affinity to collect yellow cards, Granit Xhaka has secured two early showers in his short Premier League career so far, in a 3-2 win against Swansea earlier and now in a 2-1 win over Burnley.
Granit Xhaka has been sent off more times (5) than any other player in Europe’s top 5 leagues since the start of last season. 🔴 pic.twitter.com/6pPrENI9ko
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 22, 2017
Arsenal have somehow managed to scrape through to a win, which means Xhaka’s lunges are yet to cost Arsenal. But, if such a streak continues, it won’t be long before it does end up costing Wenger a title challenge or even a top 4 place perhaps.
And when that happens, the lunges might just cost Xhaka his Arsenal dream.
Shkodran ‘The Solution’ Mustafi
Arriving at the Emirates at a time when the Gunners were struggling at the back, the German international has completely transformed the fortunes of the North Londoners, striking an immediate chemistry with Laurent Koscielny at the back.
And as he contributed to another win on Sunday, scoring his first goal for Arsenal, there was a statistic that cropped up, something which has flown under the radar so far. Shkodran Mustafi is yet to taste defeat in an Arsenal shirt.
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) January 22, 2017
To a struggling Arsenal defence, Mustafi has presented himself as a brilliant solution and judging by the early results, a successful one at that. The 24-year-old was also rightly named the man of the match against Burnley and Arsenal may just be looking at their next defensive stalwart in Mustafi.
Burnley’s British back-five presents a unique yet encouraging propsition
Sean Dyche does deserve plaudits for the way he has marshalled his troops. But, so do his side’s back-five of Heaton, Ward, Mee, Keane and Lowton. All of them barring Ward, who hails from Ireland, is an Englishman, which makes Burnley one of the only British back-five core squad in the Premier League.
And Dyche’s faith in them have been paying dividends. 7 clean sheets in the entire season up until now, conceding 1.5 goals per game on an average is more than decent.
At a time when Premier League teams are often judged by their quality of imports, it is encouraging to see a team stick to a British core and produce results instantly in their first season after achieving promotion.