Arsenal vs Burnley match report: Alexis Sanchez shines once more for Gunners to lift them into top four

Arsenal 3 Burnley 0: Burnley held out for as long as they could via an impressive performance from goalkeeper Tom Heaton but it was all in vain

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The Independent Football

“He is a winner,” Arsène Wenger enthused after Alexis Sanchez had twice put the ball in the net. Following 70 minutes of pure frustration for Arsenal, their Chilean summer signing provided a header of power and determination to set up a 3-0 win over a spirited Burnley side and move his team up to fourth in the table.

Calum Chambers provided the second before Sanchez added the finishing touch for the third.

By that point, Arsenal had felt comfortable enough to bring on Theo Walcott for his first appearance since suffering a cruciate ligament injury in January. His arrival brought a huge cheer, but it was still not as loud as the reception for Sanchez at the final whistle.

Sanchez’s key first goal was that of an old-fashioned British No 9, the type of forward Arsenal supposedly needed to sign in the summer. They undeniably need Sanchez. He is becoming indispensable.

Until that moment Burnley had beaten away everything Arsenal had to offer. Their goalkeeper, Tom Heaton, had been wondrous, but Wenger’s men had also been wasteful. Santi Cazorla and Danny Welbeck missed two good chances, referee Craig Pawson may have missed two legitimate penalty claims, and two inventive long-range efforts from Sanchez had flown slightly wide.

When Chambers whipped in a deep cross it seemed easy fare for either Kieran Trippier or Michael Duff to head away. Instead, despite a significant height difference, Sanchez impressively got between them to thunder his header home.

This was not just the type of force Arsenal had been missing up front. It was what their manager had been talking about in his pre-match press conference on Friday, when he said that Europe no longer produces forwards in that mould.

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gestures during the match against Burnley

“The header he scored, he’s that,” Wenger said. “He’s more the result of the determination, the desire, than doing something special technically. He has the attributes of a fighter, and a quality player.”

He certainly inspired Arsenal. Within a couple of minutes Chambers had poked home the second from close range, after Welbeck’s shot had been blocked on the line. And shortly before the final whistle Sanchez wrapped things up after controlling the ball superbly in the box. One of his exquisite earlier turns, shortly after half-time, had brought gasps from the crowd. Wenger was just as impressed with the patience his team showed, and the fact that they kept a clean sheet for the second successive game.

“Overall, it was a very satisfying win,” he said. Recently at home, we did not get the results we wanted. For the confidence of the team, it was important to win without conceding a goal.Alexis-Sanches-4.jpg

“In recent games, we were not patient at home. We have learned, maybe, but we look a bit more balanced between offence and defence, and less in trouble when we lose the ball. Today, we were serious.”

Wenger was able to smile about the return of Walcott, and his introduction was not the only sign of how comfortable Arsenal were. After coming on as a late substitute Lukas Podolski could also have had two goals, smashing the post with one effort.

“We could give him 12 minutes today, when the game was nearly won,” said Wenger. “We could see in his decision-making, his movement is good. He needs now to get used to competition.”

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Alexis Sanchez scores the opening goal for Arsenal against Burnley

Burnley failed to provide enough of it at the Emirates, although their manager, Sean Dyche, lamented the fact that his side had already been required to played six of the top 10 sides in the table. Sanchez amply displayed the type of quality that resides at that level.

Arsenal: (4-3-3): Szczesny; Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs; Flamini, Arteta (Ramsey, 63), Cazorla; Oxlade-Chamberlain (Walcott, 80), Welbeck (Podoloski, 80), Alexis

Burnley: (4-4-1-1): Heaton; Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Ward; Boyd, Marney (Chalobah, 80), Jones, Arfield; Ings; Sordell (Jutkiewicz, 69).

Referee: Craig Pawson.

Man of the match: Sanchez (Arsenal)

Match rating: 7/10

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