Saturday, January 29, 2022

Arsenal leave it late as Sanchez downs Burnley

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Alexis Sanchez’s controversial late penalty earned Arsenal a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Burnley and moved Arsene Wenger’s side into fourth place in the Premier League.

Sanchez struck in the first minute of stoppage-time after Burnley defender James Tarkowski was judged to have pushed Aaron Ramsey in the back as he competed for a cross.

It was a decision which infuriated Burnley players and supporters alike, but the Arsenal striker kept his composure superbly to convert the spot kick into the bottom left-hand corner.

The Gunners’ second successive league win keeps alive their faint title hopes, although a top four finish looks a more realistic goal.

Arsenal were delayed on their journey to Turf Moor, from their overnight Lancashire hotel, only arriving at the ground 50 minutes before kick-off.

And their hurried preparation seemed to tell in the early stages in which an energetic Burnley side, level on points with the Gunners before the game, tore into the visitors with relish.

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After 15 minutes, they might have taken a deserved lead when Jeff Hendrick teed up Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who beat Nacho Monreal before delivering a fierce shot which Petr Cech did well to touch onto his post.

The visitors finally warmed to the task and began to threaten on the counter-attack, their most promising early opening coming when Alexandre Lacazette attacked down the left and squared for Ramsey, whose first-time shot sailed over the goal.

Arsenal were growing into the game by the time Robbie Brady and Ashley Barnes both failed to deal with a corner, clearing the ball only to Monreal, lurking outside the area, whose 20-yard shot passed wide of the goal.

Lacazette scythed through the Burnley defence a little later and it took a magnificent tackle from Tarkowski to dispossess Sanchez with the Chilean poised to produce what might well have been the game’s first goal.

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Indeed, in keeping with the other league games at Turf Moor this season, goals looked like being hard come by.

Burnley’s previous six home matches had produced a total of just seven goals and it was hard to see that tally being boosted by many more.

Brady had a chance to claim the eighth, on 38 minutes, with a perfectly-guided left-foot free-kick which saw Cech scurrying to his left to turn the ball around for a corner.

And, before the interval, Sead Kolasinac might have done better with a free header, from Ramsey’s pass, but managed only a tame effort which flew well wide.

Without Mesut Ozil, who was ruled out due to illness, Arsenal were struggling to break down a superb Burnley defence although, after the restart, they did enjoy more possession.

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Sanchez soon slipped in Kolasinac whose effort was charged down from close range, before Lacazette attempted a shot from the edge of the area which Nick Pope did well to save as it came at him through a crowded area.

Lacazette tested Pope from a couple of yards closer, after being set up by Hector Bellerin, as Burnley were limited to trying to operate on the counter.

One such chance fell to Gudmundsson who cut in from the right and presented Cech with a routine save from 20 yards.

After 70 minutes, the most promising Burnley attack of the half thus far saw Hendrick send Stephen Ward away down the left and his precise ball picked out Brady whose goal-bound shot was blocked by Shkodran Mustafi.

Just a Burnley seemed set to frustrate the Gunners, Tarkowski was ruled to have impeded Ramsey and Sanchez did the rest.

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