Arsenal: Cech, Gabriel, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Iwobi, Alexis, Giroud
Subs: Ospina, Gibbs, Bellerin, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lucas, Welbeck
Arsenal took three points with a late, late penalty from Alexis Sanchez giving them a heart-stopping 2-1 win over Burnley at the Emirates this afternoon.
Arsene Wenger resisted the urge to bring Hector Bellerin back into the side, meaning Gabriel kept his place as the Gunners were unchanged from the 4-0 win over Swansea.
The visitors began quite brightly, surprisingly pressing Arsenal quite high up the pitch rather than sitting deep as many expected. An early Alexis cross looked as if it would find Aaron Ramsey, but Giroud’s flick took it away from the Welshman and saw it cleared by the Burnley defence.
Cech had to make a 13th minute save low down, and that was matched by Tom Heaton at the other end as he turned a goalbound Mesut Ozil effort around the post. From the resulting corner an Iwobi shot was deflected just wide, before Koscielny headed straight the keeper.
Cech was called into action again, palming a Barnes effort around his post. Ozil shot wide, making it 9 attempts on goal in the opening 23 minutes. The German was caught offside before Cech made a routine save from Gray, Ramsey produced a Rabona cross which was headed clear, and Heaton took the ball from Ozil as it dropped down for him in the box.
Xhaka had to be alert defensively to cut out a threatening Burnley attack after Mustafi had been caught wrong side of his man. Alexis saw a 40th minute effort easily saved by the keeper, and another curled just wide after an Ozil free kick dropped to him in the area.
Cech required some treatment after some brave goalkeeping at the feet of Gray saw him pick up a shoulder problem, but he was ok to continue, and the teams went in level at the break.
The Gunners had the first shot of the second half, a Monreal effort which was easy for the keeper. An Ozil cross found Ramsey but his shot hit Giroud, and when the Frenchman headed the ball the Welshman he tried to scorpion it into the net but saw the ball go over the bar.
A lightning break from Iwobi provided Alexis with another chance to put us ahead, but he fizzed his shot too high. There was controversy as ever with Jon Moss after he denied Mustafi a stone-wall penalty, playing on when the defender had been clearly fouled in the box.
The German had the last laugh a few moments later though when, from an Ozil corner, he headed Arsenal into the lead to make it 1-0.
It should have been the thing to set the Gunners going, but in th e64th minute they were reduced to 10 men when Xhaka was sent off for the second time this season by Jon Moss. Having given the ball away, his challenge on Defour was a bit careless, but a red card seemed harsh to me but given the Twitter replies to this, I felt very alone in thinking that.
Silly challenge, but that’s a harsh red
— arseblog (@arseblog) January 22, 2017
But then it turned out I wasn’t alone (click through to see replies!):
heh, seems I’m alone in thinking it was harsh. Oh well. 4 game ban for Xhaka now.
— arseblog (@arseblog) January 22, 2017
Burnley threw on Joey Barton, Marney got a yellow for taking out Ozil and injuring himself in the process and having to go off.
The 10 men looked for another goal to help secure the points but were forced into rearguard action as the visitors looked to take advantage of the extra man. There was a scramble in the box which ended with Cech smothering the ball, and in the 87th minute Danny Welbeck came on for Giroud, followed a minute later by Hector Bellerin for Ozil.
Coquelin forced Heaton into a good save with a left-footed shot, and almost sent Welbeck clean through but the striker’s first touch was rusty as the game went into an unprecedented 7 minutes of added time. Where the referee got that from is anybody’s guess.
As we came to terms with that, Burnley were awarded a penalty when Coquelin fouled Barnes. Gray stepped up, put it down the middle and although Cech got a hand to it he couldn’t keep it out. 1-1.
It looked as if that would be the thing that killed Arsenal’s title hopes, but as the game went into the last minute of all that added time, Jon Moss evened the penalty awards by giving one to Arsenal. Koscielny was kicked in the face as he tried to get onto a Alexis cross and despite Burnley’s fury claiming offside, the spot kick was given.
Alexis stepped up, with all that pressure on, and chipped the ball straight down the middle to make it 2-1!
Burnley barely had time to kick off, and the final whistle went on what was a remarkable win over the 12 men of Burnley.