Burnley vs Arsenal match report: Laurent Koscielny's late winner covers up the cracks for Arsene Wenger's side

Burnley 0 Arsenal 1: The home side resisted Wenger's team for 92 minutes but were denied a valuable point by the defender's late goal

Mark Ogden
Turf Moor
Sunday 02 October 2016 18:36
Arsenal celebrate Laurent Koscielny's late goal
Arsenal celebrate Laurent Koscielny's late goal

It was a sheepish celebration by Laurent Koscielny considering he had just secured a dramatic victory for Arsenal deep inside stoppage time, but having bundled the ball into the Burnley net with his hands, it is little wonder that the Frenchman did not want to draw attention to himself.

Having resisted Arsenal for 92 minutes, Burnley looked set to claim a valuable point against Arsene Wenger’s team at Turf Moor.

But with virtually the last touch of the game, Koscielny claimed victory after pushing the ball over the line with his right hand.

Theo Walcott had headed Alexis Sanchez’s cross to the far post, where it was met by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain before Koscielny added the killer touch.

Defeat was tough enough for Burnley to take following their spirited performance, but the manner of the decisive moment will make it feel so much worse for Sean Dyche’s team, who were let down by referee Craig Pawson and his assistants.

This was a game which Arsenal dominated and should have won by a healthy margin, but missed chances, indecision and, at times, laziness in front of goal, had threatened to see them drop two points, but Koscielny’s winner claimed all three.

As Arsene Wenger strode out across the Turf Moor pitch ahead of his 1130th game in charge of the club, the Frenchman was saluted and serenaded by the travelling Arsenal supporters singing his name in recognition of his twentieth anniversary as manager.

Wenger’s first game was October 12, 1996, ten miles down the M65 from Turf Moor at Blackburn, where two Ian Wright goals gave Arsenal a 2-0 victory at Ewood Park.

Twenty years on, Wenger’s legacy remains open for debate – is he the man who transformed the club and built the Invincibles, or will he remembered as the guy who stayed on for too long and drifted through a decade of under-achievement as overseas wealth allowed the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City to eclipse Arsenal on and off the pitch?

Dean Marney and Alexis Sanchez battle for the ball

The answer to that question will be reserved until the end of this season. If Wenger can guide Arsenal to another Premier League title, the long search for domestic glory will quickly be forgotten, but the picture will less positive if this turns out to be another campaign of unfulfilled promise.

It is in fixtures such as this that Arsenal’s fate will be decided, however. Any failure to defeat the likes of Burnley will leave the question marks hanging over the team and Wenger’s ability to turn the clock back to the late-1990s and early years of this century.

Burnley, still missing the suspended Andre Gray following his four-match suspension for homophobic tweets, showed while secure a 2-0 victory over Watford last Monday that they possess the organisation and grit to prosper in the top flight, but Arsenal are a different proposition to Watford.

Without Gray, Burnley’s lack of pace up-front was always going to be an issue, with Arsenal defenders Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi more than capable of dealing with the less mobile aerial threat of Sam Vokes.

Arsene Wenger gives his orders from the sideline

And it proved to be the case in the first-half, when Arsenal dominated possession but failed to take advantage by opening the scoring.

Alexis Sanchez saw a shot across goal deflected wide by Theo Walcott, with England winger Walcott also missing the target in the early stages.

Vokes, whose aerial ability was highlighted with Wales during Euro 2016, was isolated as a lone striker, so his prospects of troubling the Arsenal back-four were slim, particularly against the robust Mustafi.

Everything in and around the Burnley centre-forward as snuffed out by Koscielny and Mustafi, but when Vokes did get a sight of goal, his frustration saw him snatch at the chance and miss a golden opportunity.

Matt Lowton’s lobbed pass had found Vokes onside on the penalty spot, but with Petr Cech’s goal gaping in front of him, the striker could only skew his header wide.

The points were clearly there for Arsenal’s taking, but this was one of those afternoons when the lackadaisical approaching, the over-passing, began to increase the risk of dropped points.

Sanchez aside, Arsenal’s forwards were guilty of taking too long to shoot or pass and Burnley began to grow in belief.

Laurent Koscielny is congratulated by his team mates on his late goal

But for a Sanchez effort early in the second-half, when goalkeeper Tom Heaton did well to get down low to keep out the Chilean’s shot, Arsenal were limp in front of goal.

Walcott, supposedly enjoying a renaissance this season, reverted back to his usual ways of wasting the ball near in and around the penalty area, while Mesut Ozil spent the game drifting around at little more than walking pace.

It was anything but a performance of prospective champions and it was Burnley who began to carve out the better chances.

Cech produced a crucial save on 59 minutes, diving full-stretch to push Johann Gudmondsson’s header behind for a corner, before Vokes saw a header blocked from Stephen Ward’s subsequent delivery.

Arsenal had allowed Burnley to drag themselves into the game, prompting Wenger to withdraw Alex Iwobi and Granit Xhaka on 70 minutes in favour of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mohamed Elneny.

Within three minutes, Sanchez came within inches of breaking the deadlock with a right-foot volley which flashed wide of Heaton’s left-hand post, but unbowed, Burnley went straight up the other end and hit the crossbar with Michael Keane’s header.

But just as their performance looked set to be rewarded with a point, along came Koscielny at the far post with his sleight of hand.

Burnley: Heaton; Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward; Marney; Gudmundsson, Hendrick, Defour (Arfield 61), Boyd; Vokes.

Substitutes: Robinson (g), Bamford, Flanagan, Kightly, Tarkowski, O’Neill.

Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Santia Cazorla, Xhaka (Elneny 70); Walcott, Ozil, Iwobi (Oxlade-Chamberlain 70); Sanchez.

Substitutes: Ospina (g), Gibbs, Gabriel, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Holding, Reine-Adelaide, Elneny.

Referee: Craig Pawson

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