Arsenal beat Burnley on Sunday thanks to a late goal from Alexis Sanchez. The winner came from the penalty spot. Although the performance won’t be remembered as one of the Gunners’ best of the season, they persevered and found a way to take the three points. In the past, this has been something that the club have struggled to do and it was pleasing to see them win in an ugly fashion against the Clarets. The victory saw them move above local rivals Tottenham into a Champions League position. Here are three talking points from the game:
Shkodran Mustafi delivered a brilliant defensive performance
The German international was linked with a move away from the club during the summer, but he ended up staying at the Emirates Stadium and his improvement in recent weeks offers encouragement for the future. Against Burnley, he was superb and was a leading contender for man-of-the-match. He played a vital role in Arsenal keeping a clean sheet and looked assured in everything that he was asked to do.
During the match, he won nine aerial duels to relieve the pressure on his team. In addition to his dominance in the air, Mustafi made three tackles, two interceptions and five clearances. His reading of the game was superb and he regularly made the right decisions at the back to halt the Burnley attack. In a three-man defence, it is important that the centre-backs are comfortable on the ball and the German was on Sunday. He completed 84% of his passes and offered a good out-ball when the midfielders ahead of him were put under pressure.
Burnley are rarely going to be dominated in matches
The Clarets are never going to be the most entertaining team to watch in the Premier League as they focus on organisation and being tough to break down, but they are extremely effective in what they do. At the time of writing, they are in 7th position and emerging as one of the best of the rest. If they had managed to hold onto the point, they would have moved level on points with Liverpool in sixth and that underlines the success they are having under Sean Dyche.
Arsenal came with an attacking line-up and have players that can cause Burnley problems. However, the Clarets weren’t intimidated by their more illustrious opposition and they went about their business in the same manner that they have done all season. They have conceded only 10 goals in 13 matches and that solidity at the back is what gives them the foundations to have their best Premier League season to date.
Alex Iwobi isn’t ready to be starting for Arsenal
The Nigerian international has been a favourite for Arsene Wenger since the beginning of the season. The 21-year-old has featured prominently with Sunday being his 5th Premier League start of the season in the absence of Mesut Ozil. It was a huge blow to be missing the German after his excellent showing against Tottenham, but an opportunity was presented to Iwobi. Unfortunately, the attacker failed to make the most of it.
Iwobi had a number of chances to impress in the final third, but his distribution and decision making weren’t good enough to create clear-cut opportunities. His pass success rate of 91% suggests that he was reliable in possession, but he often chose the easy passes rather than those that are designed to open up the opposition defence. Arsenal lack options in attack and are over-reliant on Sanchez and Ozil. The performance from the 21-year-old on Sunday suggests that he won’t be ready for a regular starting role for the foreseeable future.