Arsenal beat Burnley 3-1 at the Emirates to go level on points with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.
Leandro Trossard opened the scoring just before half-time but the visitors hit back through Josh Brownhill. William Saliba restored the lead for Mikel Arteta’s team just three minutes later, however, with a close-range header from a corner. Oleksandr Zinchenko sealed the win with a scissor-kick but Fabio Vieira’s red card after a reckless challenge on Brownhill left Arsenal with a slightly sour end to the game.
Here, Art de Roché, breaks down the key talking points from the match…
Brave Trossard and Saka use heads to break Burnley
Arsenal dominating the first half against Burnley was not a surprise. They have dominated most matches they have played this season but faced different challenges to last season.
In 2022-23, Mikel Arteta’s side thrived in regards to early goals, but this season they are yet to score inside the first 15 minutes. Vincent Kompany could be seen gesturing to his players to be compact throughout the first half, but that could not stop wave after wave of attack. Arsenal were slow to play through Burnley initially, but soon pinned all their players into the penalty area, probing for openings.
Before Trossard bravely bundled home, hurting himself when clattering into the post in the process, Arsenal’s forwards were feeding off loose bobbles and bounces for chances. Both the Belgian and Bukayo Saka rising to win headers for the goal showed that sometimes, something different is needed to pry teams open.
Bukayo Saka’s 6 assists for Leandro Trossard in 2023-24 is the most from one #Arsenal player to a specific teammate in a single season since Mesut Özil assisted 7 of Olivier Giroud’s goals in 2015-16.
— Harvey Downes (@HarveyDownes92) November 11, 2023
Two of their three goal-scorers coming from their back four is indicative of that ‘something different’.
Saliba strikes back
Part of Arsenal’s progress in the past season and a quarter can be put down to how they react to adversity both on and off the pitch. Last term, they improved massively in not dwelling on setbacks but readying themselves for battle instantly.
The Emirates crowd also play a major role in this, which was evident again after Brownhill equalised. Once it was clear VAR was not going to overturn the goal, pockets of the crowd roared on those on the pitch — an action repeated by Gabriel Martinelli seconds later after winning a corner.
His team-mates seemed galvanised as William Saliba was at his most intelligent to creep from behind James Trafford and head Arsenal back in front.
Arteta had also reacted at the kick-off at 1-1, pointing at Fabio Vieira to ready himself to come on in place of Kai Havertz. A change that had to be made after Saliba’s goal.
Vieira’s reckless red
Lapses of judgment put Arsenal in adverse situations more often than necessary.
Fabio Vieira’s mistimed challenge on Brownhill appeared to be a genuine mistake but was a red card nevertheless. Neither the 23-year-old, his team-mates, or Mikel Arteta had much reaction when Michael Oliver dismissed him.
— The Athletic | Football (@TheAthleticFC) November 11, 2023
Arsenal being two goals ahead meant they were not in as much jeopardy as they could have been, but the issue goes beyond the final minutes against Burnley.
Midfield is an area that needs as many available players as possible given the absences of Martin Odegaard, Thomas Partey and Emile Smith Rowe. Vieira did not start, but his dismissal leaves Arteta with one less option upon returning from the international break. Further assessments may also be needed on Jorginho who ended the game with a cut on his head, courtesy of a stray Saliba boot trying to block a shot.
As nobody outside Odegaard and Rice have made the No 8 roles their own this season, this may only increase the strain put Arsenal’s midfield in the winter months.
What next for Arsenal?
Saturday, November 25: Brentford (A), Premier League, 5.30pm GMT, 12.30pm ET
Brentford away, a fixture that has become something of a health check for Arteta’s Arsenal. In August 2021, Thomas Frank and his promoted side provided a shock in the Premier League season’s curtain-raiser, winning 2-0 and sending Arsenal into a spiral of three straight defeats. However, last season’s trip to the Gtech Community Stadium showed just how much Arsenal had progressed in a little over 12 months.
That 3-0 win kicked off a 13-game unbeaten league run — can the next installment do something similar?
(Top photo: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images))