Burnley 0 Arsenal 2: Eduardo destroys Burnley's hopes

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The FA Cup spirit will remain indomitable for as long as there are football places like Burnley and managers like Owen Coyle whose fast, attractive football is a credit to the tournament. But there is no place for romance and upsets when Arsenal play like this.

Cesc Fabregas, William Gallas and Gaël Clichy were all missing here and after five minutes, when it looked like Kyle Lafferty just couldn't miss the unchallenged header served up for him by Andy Gray down the left, there seemed to be a script to match the fairytale view across the grey sloping roofs to the Pennines.

But it wasn't to be. Lafferty, one of Burnley's best throughout, fluffed his chance and was later dubiously sent off as Arsenal reasserted themselves.

The visitors did not provide their characteristic fluency but class told. The dismissal of Northern Ireland international Lafferty who showed, with his pace down the left why Coyle believes he is destined for the Premier League was the single moment of controversy in a fine, free-flowing Cup tie. "You'll laugh, but I didn't see it," said Arsne Wenger of Alan Wiley's decision on the hour to red card the player for what was no more than an over-enthusiastic, one-footed challenge on Gilberto Silva.

Coyle was dissatisfied by Wiley's conclusion that Lafferty had deliberately tried to hurt the Brazilian. "I'm not sticking up for the kid but there's not a bad bone in his body he's miscontrolled the ball and [gone] in with one foot."

As Coyle put it, 11 against 11 is difficult at the best of times against Arsenal for whom Abou Diaby in midfield was particularly effective and Nicklas Bentdner always seemed likely to add to his four goals this season.

But the surprises belonged to Burnley. A side managed by Coyle, who was still orchestrating volubly from the edge of his technical area with Burnley's cause long lost, will always contribute to a game like this. But even Wenger was surprised by the pace with which Burnley attempted to play their way through Arsenal's ranks and Robbie Blake contributed most to a tricky afternoon for Philippe Senderos.

It meant a clutch of half-chances for Burnley, whose midfielder Chris McCann will awake today to rue two chances presented to him. He fired over after a poor clearance by Senderos fell at his feet on 20 minutes and put a header over during Burnley's bright start to the second half after Arsenal's defence missed a cross by Stanislav Varga.

Arsenal's finishing, when it came, was a different story. Eduardo da Silva, now displaying everything his manager hoped for, first strode through the centre of Burnley's defence to tap in Kolo Tour's through ball and missed an identical chance early in the second half after a one-two with Bentdner. But Bentdner, running through the same channel, finished things off after the sending off.

"They played at a high pace and in a fair way and I'm surprised to see where they are in the Championship," reflected Wenger. "This division must be very difficult and it's better to be in the Premier League." But with two wins at home all season and Plymouth here next Saturday Coyle had little time to bask in the compliments.

Goals: Eduardo 0-1 (8); 0-2 Bendtner(75)

Burnley (4-4-2): Kiraly; Alexander, Harley, Caldwell, Varga; O'Connor (Gudjonsson, 75), Elliott, McCann, Lafferty; Blake (Jones, 79), Gray (Akinbiyi, 79). Substitutes not used: Jensen, Jordan.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Lehmann; Sagna, Tour, Senderos, Traore (Hoyte, 70); Ebou, Gilberto, Denilson, Diaby; Eduardo, Bendtner. Substitues not used: Djourou, Sabiansky, Randall, Lansbury.

Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire)

Booked: Burnley: Caldwell

Sent off: Burnley: Lafferty.

Man of the match: Blake.

Attendance: 16,709.