A Dani Ceballos-inspired Arsenal ran out 2-1 victors against Burnley at The Emirates, and got our home campaign off to the perfect start.
The Spanish midfielder was the architect behind the win, he laid on both goals and gave a titan’s performance to form the catalyst for the win. Both Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got on the scoresheet, and there were some other noteworthy displays that caught the eye.
On a collective basis, Arsenal got the job done in the face of some fierce resistance at times. Sean Dyche had his men well regimented to come to The Emirates and make life as difficult as possible for the hosts, and Ashley Barnes up top was a real handful for our centre back combo of Sokratis and debutant David Luiz.
We had plenty of chances in the first half to put the game out of sight, and Lacazette had a header tipped over by Nick Pope just before the same man broke the deadlock. The corner found its way to the near post and the Frenchman. His close control kept his marker at bay, and he brought it out of his feet, swivelled and put his shot through Pope and into the net when it looked very difficult to even get a shot away.
The it was Burnley’s turn to have an opportunity, with Barnes dragging a shot wide and then a spot of pinball in our box that we eventually scraped away. We were making life more difficult than it should have been.
A couple of shots well saved by Pope was our response, but Burnley were breaking up play and using their strength well, and just before half time, they were level.
A touch of luck was involved too as Chris Wood’s shot was deflected into Barnes’s path, who had the easy task of tapping home. It was his third in two games, and it looked to be a vital goal.
The second half saw an immediate change from Unai Emery and it was a significant one, with Nelson making way for record buy Nicolas Pepe. His impact was felt straight away with a lung-bursting 40 yard run that eventually found its way to Auba, but the move broke down. It was enough to fill the stadium with more noise though.
Pepe then slipped through Auba with a great pass, but Pope was out and ready to smother just as the Gabon man was about to pull the trigger.
He wouldn’t be denied though, and thanks to Ceballos’s tenacity and vision he found himself with the ball and his near post shot was venomous enough to find the net.
Kolasinac replaced Lacazette with twenty minutes to play, and then man of the match Ceballos was switched out with Torreira to close out the game. A few hairy moments aside, we had enough in the tank to see out the remaining minutes, and it was two wins from two so far this season.
What can we take from this latest 90 minutes?
Ceballos the transition man
The Spaniard was rightly given the Man of the Match award, and his combinations with Willock and their positioning worked well. Ceballos had the most passes and he was involved heavily. The most delightful aspect was his composure under severe pressure, still finding his outlet in the face of three or four Burnley men. What a player, it’s understandable why Real want him back. A fantastic link from midfield to attack.
Laca Must Start
The Frenchman is clinical when presented with a chance. He started this game and grabbed a goal all of his own making. Our next game is against Liverpool at Anfield, a place where we must take our chances. To do that, our best finisher must play and he has done his selection chances no harm.
Luiz in a back four - No dramas
The Brazilian kept the game moving and despite a couple of hairy moments when playing out from the back, the aerial threat Burnley posed was more or less nullified. Luiz has been criticised for his performances as part of a back four, but in the face of pressure, Luiz did well.
Willock Goes from Strength to strength
The youngster played well last week and this week, his role changed with the inclusion of Ceballos. The pair dovetailed well, one sitting back when the other attacked and vice versa. Willock again ignored the pitfalls of youth and inexperience and gave a display that showed he could be pivotal at both ends of the pitch this season.
Well done lads, another three points. Our next game is against Liverpool at Anfield next weekend. Let's keep it up Gunners!