Burnley 1-1 Arsenal: Xhaka mistake holds Arsenal to draw at Turf Moor 
(Photo by Jon Super - Pool/Getty Images)

Granit Xhaka gifted Chris Wood an unusual equaliser as Arsenal continued to be architects of their own downfall as they dropped more points on their travels. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave The Gunners an early lead in Lancashire but Mikel Arteta will be disappointed with his sides showing as they now sit 10 points off the European places. 

For Sean Dyche's men it means their unbeaten record at Turf Moor stretches to five games as they picked up another point on their road to to Premier League survival.

Story of the match

Dyche made just the one change to the side that secured a well earned point against Leicester City on Wednesday evening, as Jóhann Berg Gudmundsson returned to the side following his injury lay-off. His return allowed Josh Brownhill to take up his preferred position in the centre of midfield alongside Ashley Westwood, as Jack Cork missed out altogether due to a slight muscle injury. 

Arsenal enjoyed a lengthy rest period since their last outing as they had no mid-week fixtures obligations. Arteta made five changes to the XI that lined up last Sunday, as captain Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Thomas Partey and Calum Chambers all came in. 

It was a rather cagey opening to the contest at Turf Moor as neither side wanted to concede the first chance of the afternoon. However, it was the hosts who blinked first on this occasion with just over six minutes gone on the clock.

Arsenal orchestrated a fantastic passing that saw them move from back-to-front with speed, urgency and purpose - something that has been absent from much of their play this season. Willian picked the ball up just inside the Burnley half as he drove at the heart of The Clarets’ defence before he released the ball to Aubameyang who was making a supporting run to the Brazilians left. The Arsenal captain checked inside as he dazed Matt Lowton with a series of step-overs as he  fired the ball past a helpless Nick Pope to continue his fine form in-front of goal. Pope will be disappointed with his attempt to keep Aubameyang’s effort out as he got a strong right hand, especially as he continues in his efforts to impress Gareth Southgate ahead of this summers European Championships.

The visitors came close to doubling their advantage, twice in as many first half minutes. First it was the captain who came close to grabbing his second. He  latched onto the end of Partey’s perfectly weighted ball over the Burnley back four, but Lowton got enough of the ball with a hopeful outstretched leg to put Aubameyang off, as he dragged his effort wide of the post from close range. 

Next it was Saka’s turn to try and establish some daylight between the two sides as he combined nicely with the Gunners’ goalscorer on the edge of the box as he broke in behind leaving him with just Pope to beat. He - much like Aubameyang - found the angle to tight to orchestrate it into the far corner. 

The hosts enjoyed their best spell of the first half just before the half-hour mark as the began to venture high and wide into the Arsenal half, as they started to ask questions of David Luiz and Pablo Mari, as Burnley peppered Arsenal with in-swinging cross.

As  the closing stages of the first half drew closer, Arteta's men started to display signs of growing maturity and game management, as they looked to hold on to their lead in this gritty Lancashire affair. 

Well, that game management and maturity didn't last long at all. In the 39th minute Xhaka and his ludicrous decision making cost Arsenal again. As Burnley began to box the away side in their own six-yard box. Xhaka received the ball the ball as his options become limited due to the Burnley press, his subsequent attempt to clip the ball over on-rushing Wood and find Chambers miserably failed as he struck the ball straight at the chest of the Burnley's No.9, as the ball cannoned into Bernd Leno's goal. 

The blundering nature of Burnley's equaliser summed up Aretea's managerial tenure at The Gunners to date. Cruising, weathered the claret and blue storm, but sloppy mistakes once again caused them to self destruct.

Areteta clearly had stern words with his side at half time as they came out with an increased intensity following a sloppy end to the first half. 

Saka and Odegaard had hopeful efforts blocked and smothered by Pope as they continued to search for a goal that would see them regain their advantage. 

In  the 63rd minute as Dyche made a like-for-like change as he replaced Charlie Taylor with the ever reliable Erik Pieters. The oncoming left-back would have far more influential figure than anyone watching would've foreshadowed.  

As Burnley pumped the ball into the box, David Luiz's headed clearance was hit first time by the Ex-Stoke City man. A fantastic save from Leno to keep his 30-yard looping effort out, meant the game would enter the final stages with both teams chasing an illusive second goal. 

Burnley could - and probably should've won it when Wood and Matej Vydra produced an excellent one-two which to send  Wood in the clear with Leno, but his effort was straight at the Arsenal 'keeper. Arsenal soon  followed straight up the other end as Kieran Tierney whipped a delightful ball across the box but Nicolas Pepe was unable to turn it in as he was left kicking the air, not the ball 

As The Gunners ramped up their efforts to breakdown Burnley's resilient defence, they thought they would be presented with a chance from 12-yards when  Pepe's goal-bound shot was cleared off the line via the shoulder of the recently introduced Pieters. 

Referee Andre Mariner showed Pieters a straight red card as he thought Pepe's effort had been illegitimately blocked, the VAR assistants told Mariner otherwise, as he overturned the penalty  and the subsequent red card. 

There was still time one last bit of drama in injury time as the ball fell for Chambers in the final minute of injury time, as his effort was smashed against Pope's effort, to make sure Arsenal made the trip back south with a disappointing share of the spoils. 

Takeaways

Arsenal struggle for consistency yet again 

This afternoons draw at Turf Moor means it is now six wins, six loses and two draws on the road this season for Arteta and co. Arsenal have had elation on their travels with wins at Old Trafford and the King Power, but it is the lack of consistency that'll take the shine away, as they've been defeated at Wolves and Aston Villa just to name a few. 

Following on from their well marshalled victory against Leicester City last time out The Gunners would've been hopeful to lay some bricks on their foundations they had previously built, as they look to qualify for European football next season.

It's clear for everyone to see - including Arteta himself - that serious personal changes are needed once again this summer if his side are  going to reach the consistency levels needed to challenge at the top of the league. As individual errors seem to be costing week-in-week-out at the moment.

Burnley plodding along nicely 

It's now five unbeaten at home for Dyche and his men - although it's a long way off Chelsea's English record of 86 - it gives his side solid foundations to build on as they edge closer towards securing their top-flight status for yet  another year.

Dyche will maybe feel like his side could've secured all three points, but on a weekend where Fulham travel to Anfield whilst West Brom and Newcastle lock horns, it  will be assessed as a valuable point for The Clarets come May.

 

 

Starting XI's 

Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Taylor, Tarkowski, Mee, Gudmundsson, Brownhill, Westwood, McNeil, Wood, Vydra

Arsenal: Leno; Chambers, Mari, Luiz, Tierney, Xhaka, Partey, Willian, Odegaard, Saka, Aubameyang

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