Arsenal are in the goals — and so are Burnley
Getty: Daniel Chesterton

The sun was beating down, the temperature was rising and Arsenal’s players were smashing in the goals. This was Dubai in the second week of January and there was plenty of encouragement during the club’s training camp during the winter break.

Fast forward four weeks and the sky was cloudy, rain was falling but again Mikel Arteta’s charges were plundering goals with ease. Yet, this time in an away match at Burnley rather than during a practice game far away from home.

It seems a long time ago that Arsenal set off to the Middle East with one win in seven games and questions being asked of whether they need a new goalscorer. Their Premier League title bid was visibly faltering.

Whatever Arteta did with his players in the Dubai sun has clearly worked because here we are a few weeks later and they have scored 21 goals in five games, conceding only two and this 5-0 win against Burnley meant they have started the calendar year with five consecutive league wins for the first time.

It has been a remarkable sequence that has reignited their campaign, put them two points off leaders Liverpool and done wonders for their goal difference, which could be worth an extra point.

Getty: Harriet Lander/Copa
Getty: Harriet Lander/Copa

Putting five past Burnley and Crystal Palace and six past West Ham United without conceding is some feet — yet throw in the 3-1 victory at home to Liverpool and it is clear that Arsenal are not just taking advantage of teams in poor form but are themselves excelling.

What has impressed Arteta most in recent weeks is that his players “weren’t satisfied” when they have already put the game beyond their opponent. “They wanted to score more, they didn’t want to concede a goal. I’m really pleased to hit that consistency,” he said after this latest free-scoring display.

Arsenal are also spreading the goals around. At Turf Moor, Martin Odegaard, Leandro Trossard and Kai Havertz all registered while Bukayo Saka scored a brace for the second week running.

The England international has been involved in goals in each of his last six league outings and has now scored 15 goals this season. Given his form, registering his first hat-trick for Arsenal appears a question of when not if.

I’m happy to score two, two weeks in a row and hopefully the third one will come soon. It’s coming. It’s coming, but I need to be patient!” Saka said.

Getty: Matt McNulty
Getty: Matt McNulty

Odegaard not only kickstarted this latest rout but again put in a typically classy showing. The Arsenal captain was involved in three further goals and operated on a different plain to the opposition; his vision, timing and technique making everything look so easy.

Like Odegaard, Arsenal have been businesslike recently — scoring with each of their first five shots on target at Burnley highlighted as much — and the question is now whether any team have had a better five-game spell this season.

During that time Arsenal have had 96 shots on goal with an xG of 14.01, and conceded an xG of just 1.71 in total. The statistics speak for themselves. Arteta hopes they can transfer this form into the Champions League when they face Porto in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie this week

We want to dominate games and play in the opponent’s half as much as possible,” the Arsenal manager explained. “I think the threat, the purpose, the activity and the connections of the players are flowing and they really want it.

“We have momentum now and we have to maintain it. Now we leave the Premier League, we go to Porto which will be a really tough environment, so just prepare to play well again and be ourselves.

Burnley's shoddy defending becoming a concern

The goals may be flowing for Arsenal, but they are for Burnley too — just in the wrong direction. They have now conceded 55 during this struggling season of theirs and 32 of those goals have come at home.

Getty: Stuart MacFarlane
Getty: Stuart MacFarlane

In fact, this was the fifth time this season that they have conceded three or more in a home game. At times, during this latest testing afternoon, it was difficult not to have some sympathy with Vincent Kompany’s players — the gulf in quality was simply too great.

The Burnley manager, who also saw Aaron Ramsey stretchered off with a serious-looking knee injury, admitted that his team were “just not good enough” and Arsenal were “better in every department”.

This was Burnley’s 18th — and heaviest — defeat on their return to the Premier League and a drop back down to the Championship is already practically guaranteed with them seven points from safety. Arsenal found it so easy to prise open their defence that it looked like men against boys.

You look back at probably the last 10 to 15 games and we were always able to draw on positives from the game,” Kompany said. “Today’s one you have to take on the chin and probably say less and make sure that you get the energy back in the team for the next game because that’s all we’ve got to focus on now.

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