Arsenal: Szczesny, Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs, Arteta, Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Alexis, Welbeck
Subs: Martinez, Bellerin, Ramsey, Sanogo, Rosicky, Walcott, Podolski
Arsenal got another three points on the board after a challenging but well deserved 3-0 win over a hard working Burnley at the Emirates this afternoon.
Arsene Wenger, perhaps surprisingly, kept faith with the side that beat Sunderland 2-0 last weekend, meaning there was no place for Aaron Ramsey in the midfield, while the only change on the bench was fit again Yaya Sanogo coming in for Joel Campbell.
As the game started it looked very much as if Arsenal were set up in a 442 with Alexis alongside Danny Welbeck up front – perhaps because the opposition were using the same formation.
Typically there was lots of Arsenal possession in the early stages, and Santi Cazorla had the first shot of the game in the 11th minute but his effort was easily saved by Heaton.
Danny Welbeck tried next, running across goal and firing a shot which was blocked out for a corner but perhaps the striker could have laid it off to Oxlade-Chamberlain before shooting. After Cazorla had been cynically fouled by George Boyd, and the Burnley player booked, Alexis hit a free kick on target but the distance from goal meant it was a simple stop for the keeper.
The Scotsman was lucky that referee Craig Pawson didn’t spot his deliberate handball from a Cazorla corner as it would have resulted in a penalty and a second yellow card.
Brilliant play in the 25th minute between Alexis and Oxlade-Chamberlain saw the England man cut a cross back which found Cazorla on the run, but his shot flashed just wide and his Premier League goal drought – which stretches back to January – continued.
There was a moment of danger for the visitors when Flamini intercepted a cross in his own box and but for the fact it went straight at Szczesny it could easily have resulted in an own goal.
Alexis, the match-winner last week, forced a good save from Heaton with a curling effort. From the rebound Oxlade-Chamberlain fed Cazorla but Burnley got bodies in the way to block the shot. The Chilean had another go a couple of moments later, curling a fantastic effort just past the top corner with the goalkeeper desperately trying to get across.
All of Arsenal’s best moments involved the former Barcelona man, and after he won the ball back in midfield, he was played in by Cazorla but Heaton came out to make a good close range save, and to ensure the game remained goalless at the break.
It was crucial Arsenal started the second period well and Oxlade-Chamberlain’s driving run down the right did just that. He pulled the ball back to Mikel Arteta but the skipper’s left-footed shot went high over the bar.
However, there were some moments of danger for Arsenal with Chambers getting an important foot in inside his own box, while Ings almost caught Szczesny in no-man’s land but failed to connect properly.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was providing plenty of thrust down the right and had an effort on goal saved by the keeper after Burnley failed to get a corner clear. The midfielder then saw another shot from distance deflect just past the post with the keeper scrambling.
Arsene Wenger made his first change on the 63 minute mark, putting on Aaron Ramsey for Mikel Arteta, and shortly afterwards Arsenal were denied a goal when Duff made a fantastic block from a Cazorla shot which had rebounded to him just outside the 6 yard box.
The goal was coming though and it will be no surprise that Alexis was the man who put the Gunners ahead. Calum Chambers got the ball out wide from Aaron Ramsey, floated in a decent cross but Alexis ran at it aggressively, jumped and nodded the ball down and into the net. 1-0.
It got better just 2 minutes later. As the ball rebounded around the box from an Arsenal corner, Welbeck’s shot was brilliantly saved by Heaton but the ball fell to Chambers and he prodded it home from close range to double the lead. 2-0.
There were further changes for Arsenal with Lukas Podolski replacing Danny Welbeck and there was a Premier League return for Theo Walcott, making his first appearance since January, as he came on for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Although all eyes were on Walcott, Podolski brought a brilliant save from Heaton with a cracking volley, and the Burnley keeper again showed his quality with a stop from Walcott.
Theo turned provider with a cross to the back post which Podolski absolutely hammered off the post as Arsenal turned the screw in the closing minutes – our sources tell us the woodwork is still vibrating. The German then headed over from an Alexis cross before Ramsey forced yet another save from Heaton with a shot with the outside of his right foot.
The pressure was relentless and it told as Arsenal grabbed a third. Gibbs crossed from the left, Alexis took the ball in his stride in the area, kept it under control and finished from close range to make it 3-0.
In the end a victory Arsenal deserved, another clean sheet and another step in the right direction in terms of the performance.