Forget Arsenal, Remember the Next Two!
Saturday 6th March 2010 @3pm Kick-Off
This in the end was the usual routine win for Arsenal but they made hard work of it.
The difference in quality and class was plain for all to see at the Emirates and they were simply too strong for us in every department. You get what you can pay for or in our case get what you are not willing to pay for! It could have been a panful for Arsenal had they been able to shoot or head straight. Bendtner is clearly going for the 'Miss of the Season` competition and had at least three attempts that could be in contention for the award by the end of 2009-10!
We are never going to beat the likes of Arsenal though away from home unless you believe in miracles and they never happen to clubs like ours fighting like hell to survive in the top flight.
However at least we made a go of it this time despite having less than 40% of the possession and the quality of our play was much better than in the recent past.
A very well taken goal in the 34th minute by Fabregas gave the Gunners just a 1-0 lead at half-time which has to be seen as some sort of success from a second from bottom side still looking for its first away win of the season playing against the Mighty Arsenal!
We had one particularly good spell in the second half but it was never going to be enough. The equalising goal by Nugent after 50 minutes shut them up for a bit, well at least for 10 minutes until they regained the lead that is! The Clarets heads though at least did not drop after that unlike at Villa and they actually put some nice moves together in an effort to shock the footy world again and get another equaliser. You always sensed though that Arsenal were just too strong and on the break we were punished time and time again. They stormed forward, we plodded forward!
We held them at 2-1 though up until added time which was some achievement considering Arsenal were after a 4-0 win to go top of the Premier League. Their third goal by substitute, Arshavin in the final minute of four minutes of added time was a little cruel to be honest but a 3-1 defeat was still a respectable result in the end. The Arsenal match day programme cruelly reminded Clarets fans that not only were we still seeking our first away win of the season but in terms of most goals conceded away from home in the Premier League we were heading quickly for a record nobody wants! Leeds United let in 48 goals on the road during the 2003-4 season but it looks like the Clarets are about to break that unwanted record with ease since after the Gunners game we have now let in 46 goals with four away games still to play this season! It could have been far worse at the Emirates yesterday but we contained them enough to avoid a tonking.
These games against the Top 4 clubs are not important you write them off before you even come on the pitch at least on the road. It was a damage limitation exercise for us yesterday and we succeeded in that aim. The next two games ARE crucial and if we cannot get maximum points against Stoke and Wolves at home it must surely be season over and a return to the fizzy pop league!
The Clarets Team Sheet
Steven Fletcher`s broken bone in his hand was just too painful for him to play so in the end, David Nugent got his chance alone up front supported by Paterson and Eagles.
Clarke Carlisle who had a mare of a game in our last match at home to Pompey was still preferred in the centre of defence and lined up in the back four along with Cort, Mears and Fox.
Graham Alexander now fully recovered from his calf injury also made a welcome return in midfield to play his first match in the first team since coming off injured against Bolton at the Reebok back in January this year. This though was bad news for Bikey, with no room in the back four to accommodate him and with the midfield slots taken, he found himself on the bench. On loan midfielder, Jack Cork also made a start after Laws was criticised last week for leaving him out of the starting eleven.
Chris Eagles also made a return to the starting eleven with Blake back on the bench along with the lacklustre of late, Wade Elliott.
The line-up in summary was therefore as follows:
Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Cort, Fox, Alexander, Eagles, McDonald, Cork, Paterson, Nugent
Subs: Weaver, Duff, Jordan, Bikey, Blake, Elliott, Thompson
The Full Match Report
The first thing to note before we start talking about the match was yet another change in the scheduled referee, it seems to be happening a lot to us these days! Staffordshire referee, Alan Wiley had been down as the referee in what would have been his first match this season involving the Clarets. It was however St Helens referee, Chris Foy who took to the pitch, whistle at the ready! He has been in charge of six of our League games this season including the away games at Blackburn and West Ham.
I have to say too the atmosphere at the Emirates was also somewhat subdued and for all the impressiveness of the Stadium just seems a plastic, vacuous sterile void. We had been told the Gooners were going to make one hell of a noise after what happened to Aaron Ramsey last week but apart from a few banners, it was pretty quiet on that front considering there were about 59000 Arsenal fans in the ground! How many Arsenal fans actually live within 10 miles of the ground and were born and bred to support the team? I know I can talk living in Cambridgeshire but at least I was born near Burnley and was a season ticket holder for most of the 60s and 70s despite Manchester United down the road! It just seems loads of Arsenal fans simply jump on the bandwagon because the club wins things! I just don`t sense the passion. The train going back to Peterborough was stuffed full of Arsenal fans and most of them got off towards the Cambridgeshire end! In my day you supported your local club, not one you had no affinity with! Mini-rant over but it does annoy me!
Let`s get back to the game! You tend to know what your fate is going to be when Arsenal can name Arshavin, Diaby, Eduardo and Sagna on the bench but you can but try!
About 1400 Clarets fans having sold out their ticket allocation tried their best to make some noise in a small corner of the ground but it was done with that sense of humour and resignation that you need when you play one of the Big Four.
Arsenal came storming out of the blocks and put us under relentless pressure in the opening minutes of this match. They certainly looked up for that 4-0 victory they would need to go top of the Premier League. It was Niklas Bendtner who had the first real chance for the Gunners after just three minutes. He got in behind the defence but Paterson was there to get in a covering tackle and allow Jensen to get to the loose ball and push it round the post.
Walcott was causing Burnley also sorts of problems down the right flank with Fabregas in midfield also building attack after attack. Fabregas linked well with Eboue before putting his shot wide and then set-up Nasri. Mears and Jensen though combined well to snuff out the threat. Jensen then had to save from Bendtner after a low cross from Eboue.
The Clarets forays into the Arsenal half had been few and far between and had been limited to long-range efforts notably from Fox and Paterson. The nearest we had come to scoring had been from a corner when Clarke Carlisle had tested Almunia with a header as the ball came over from Fox.
We had held on though past the half-hour mark and looked to be frustrating the Gunners. That was all going to change though when Arsenal went 1-0 up after 34 minutes.
Nasri lofted a ball over a packed defence to find Fabregas who beating Alexander for pace nutmegged Jensen to put the Gunners ahead. The fear was that we would now fold and concede more goals in the remaining eleven minutes of the half but we held on to ensure the score was still respectable at the break. We would not though have to worry about Fabregas in the second half; he had limped off shortly after scoring to be replaced by Diaby.
It was nearly game over for the Clarets in the first few minutes from the start of the second half and we only had Bendtner to thank for being unable to convert two clear cut chances.
The Clarets though then stunned the Arsenal faithful by getting an equaliser after just 5 minutes from the restart. Our lone striker, David Nugent had struggled to make much impression up until now but a header from Leon Cort split the Gunners defence and there was Nugent to volley the ball over Almunia from 12 yards out and make the score 1-1.
Clarets fans were now delirious but the joy would sadly only last ten minutes after which Arsenal restored their lead. Bendtner had earlier missed his third chance to score from yet another sitter but on the hour mark, Walcott on the wing cut inside to get in a low shot with his left foot that deceived Jensen with the ball sailing into the far corner of the net.
Incredibly Bendtner then missed another golden opportunity in front of goal after a Walcott cross and that was enough for Wenger. Eduardo came on to replace him with seventeen minutes to play.
2-1 down there was a fear the Clarets would now fold against a rampant Arsenal but we did the complete opposite and probably had our best spell of the match looking for the equaliser. Arsenal suddenly looked nervous and our possession seemed to improve. Chris Eagles stepped up a gear and came close and with Steven Thompson now on we seemed to have more effect up front. The Clarets looking for their first goal from a corner this season suddenly had a chance to remedy that grim statistic. In only our second corner of the whole game and with five minutes of the match remaining, the cross from Fox found Thompson. He let rip with a tremendous volley which sailed agonisingly over the bar. We came close to getting a stunning point but it wasn`t to be and in the final minute of added time, Arshavin sealed our fate to make the final score 3-1. There was no shame in that scoreline and there were plenty of positives to take away from this match. The trouble is at the moment positives do not equal points and we remain in a perilous position second from bottom with two crucial home games now coming up to rescue our season.
Arsenal: Almunia, Vermaelen, Silvestre, Clichy, Eboue, Fabregas (Diaby 39 mins), Rosicky (Arshavin 61 mins), Nasri, Walcott, Denilson, Bendtner (Eduardo 73 mins)
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Sagna, Traore, Eastmond.
Goals: Fabregas (34), Walcott (60), Arshavin (90+4)
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Cort, Fox, Alexander (Bikey 65 mins), Eagles, McDonald (Elliott 53 mins), Cork, Paterson (Thompson 73 mins), Nugent
Subs Not Used: Weaver, Duff, Jordan, Blake
Goal: Nugent (50)
Booked: Yellow Cards for Carlisle, McDonald, Elliott and Paterson
Possession: 64% Arsenal, 36% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)
Referee: Chris Foy (St Helens)