A brace from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and a late goal from Alex Iwobi was enough to see off a brutal Burnley side, as we got back to winning ways at The Emirates.
Two defeats on the spin meant this game carried even more significance for our top 4 hopes, and we overcame not only a stubborn Burnley side, but some questionable refereeing decisions also made this game a little more difficult than it should be.
Unai Emery made some changes, some enforced through injury and some thanks to rotating some clearly tired personnel.
Nacho Monreal partnered Sokratis in defence, with Sead Kolasinac taking the left spot and Ainsley Maitland-Niles on the right. We went with a midfield three, comprising Mohamed elneny, Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi, giving Lucas Torreira some much needed rest.
In attack, on paper was a fearsome trio of Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. This should be enough to overcome any side, and so it proved on this occasion.
We started on the front foot, and Maitland-Niles saw his early effort palmed away by Joe Hart, before Jeff Hendrick almost opened the scoring with a low effort that was well saved.
We weren’t to be denied though, and we broke the deadlock on the 14th minute, thanks to a sublime pass from Skipper Mesut Ozil.
Ozil himself was making himself available around the box, and he curled a beautiful pass around the defence for the onrushing Sead Kolasinac, who cut back with a neat flick for Aubameyang, who took it first time with the outside of his boot, firing into the corner.
The game began to unravel in terms of pattern, a series of niggly fouls from both sides disrupting the flow, but with Burnley being the main aggressors.
Around ten minutes before the half ended, Nacho Monreal was subbed off for Stephane Lichtsteiner, which meant yet another defensive injury for our squad to cope with. This coincided at the same time with Ashley Barnes clashing with Sokratis, resulting in the striker being booked. It was a deserved one too, and a signal that this game was coming to the boil.
A few minutes later, it was Sokratis’ turn to go into the book, with a tangle that saw the Greek defender take Barnes down. Barnes wasn’t finished though, he would get away with murder later on…
There was no more time for anything else before half time, and for the first time this season and under Unai Emery, we went into half time in the lead.
The second half got underway and with no subs for the first time in quite a while. Three minutes into the second period, we doubled our lead.
Kolasinac was again involved, his rampaging run down the left saw him pick up the ball and feed Lacazette, who found Auba in the box. The striker lashed home and gave Hart no chance.
We looked home and hosed, but w should know better. Burnley were huffing and puffing but hadn't truly threatened Leno’s goal. there was a series of bookings and Torriera came on for Elneny, before Burnley pulled a goal back from Barnes, who shouldn’t have been on the pitch.
A Minute before he scored, Barnes had stamped on Guendouzi, who was on the floor, So it was inevitable that it would be Barnes who fired home after we failed to clear.
With fourteen minutes left, Lacazette went off for Iwobi, and the striker was clearly upset about being taken off. Burnley proceeded to pump long balls forward, but it was our team who got the next goal to finally kill of the Clarets chances.
Ozil was involved, and his jinking run in the box ended with the German attempting a shot, but his effort had the power taken away from it by a block, with the loose ball finding Iwobi, who smashed home from close range.
That was that. The result was deserved and Burnley were sent packing, and we overcame a stiff test, with two games in the next week meaning points are critical.
Auba on fire, Ozil back on form, but our injuries in defence are worrying. Can we patch some up for the next game?