Arsenal’s woeful start to the season continued with a shock 1-0 defeat to Burnley at the Emirates as they failed to score for the fourth time in their last five league outings.
Unsurprisingly, Arsenal dominated the ball from the off, with Burnley happy to sit in and defend, though the Clarets did spurn a fine opportunity to take the lead as an unmarked Chris Wood sent his 14th minute header wide following a Robbie Brady cross.
Sean Dyche’s side defended in numbers, though had goalkeeper Nick Pope to thank for a great reaction save in the 28th minute, the England ‘keeper keeping out Alexandre Lacazette’s effort following a Kieran Tierney pullback.
The Gunners started the second half brightly too, with Pope being called into a number of early saves, only for things to start to unravel in the 58th minute.
Not for the first time this season, Mikel Arteta saw his side reduced to 10 men for a ridiculous moment of petulance, Granit Xhaka reacting to an incident in which he fouled Dwight McNeil, before standing up and grabbing Ashley Westwood by the throat. Referee Graham Scott initially handed the Swiss international a yellow card for his challenge on McNeil, before upgrading it to a red card after a look at the pitchside monitor.
Straight red for Xhaka 😳 pic.twitter.com/OCuSOjHNgH
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 13, 2020
The Gunners even could have been reduced to nine with Mohamed Elneny being caught on camera putting two hands in the face James Tarkowski at a corner, although VAR only advised a yellow card. However, the resulting corner saw Burnley take the lead as Ashley Westwood’s wicked delivery flicked off the head of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the front post, who unwittingly glanced the ball past his own ‘keeper.
The Gunners’ search of an equaliser would prove to be in vain as they registered their fourth consecutive home defeat in the Premier League to leave them in 15th, just five points above the relegation zone, with goalscoring a glaring issue for Arteta’s side.
Speaking afterwards, the Spaniard admitted Xhaka’s sending off was a critical moment as his side ‘threw the game away’ after having ‘total control’ beforehand.
“You saw the performance of the boys, how much they wanted it, the chances we created and then we threw the game away with the red card, and we lost the game,” he told Sky Sports.
“We had total control for 60-70 minutes and should have won it earlier.”
In the recent game against Leeds, Arsenal saw Nicolas Pepe sent off for a petulant headbutt, with Arteta describing the wingers actions as ‘unacceptable’, and he reckoned that given the current situation that the club finds itself, Xhaka’s red card was ‘even worse’.
“Same words [as when Pepe was sent off before]. In these conditions even worse. In these conditions we are in, not winning football matches, you cannot do that.
“I think it is related to how much will and energy and commitment they put into the games but it is not an excuse. We just give the game to the opponent. I am sure he will [accept responsibility].
“You go on Wednesday against Southampton at home and try to win the game. We have to score a goal, we have to put the ball in the net.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 13, 2020
“We were on top from the beginning to the moment of the sending off. We are not winning football matches and I am here to provide wins. Everyday work on it.”
Asked how concerned he is about the club’s current predicament, he insisted: “Very [concerned], because we are not winning football matches and I’m here to provide wins to the team.”
Next up for Arsenal is yet another home game, facing an in-form Southampton side at the Emirates on Wednesday evening before Arteta takes his side to face his former club, Everton, next weekend.