Burnley and Arsenal play out drab draw in mid-table encounter

Both sides were guilty of some terrible finishing at Turf Moor

Burnley’s Jeff Hendrick is challenged by Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka during the  Premier League match at Turf Moor. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Burnley’s Jeff Hendrick is challenged by Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka during the Premier League match at Turf Moor. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

 

Burnley 0 Arsenal 0

These two sides began level on points in mid table and remain so after a thoroughly mid-table encounter.

Forgettable is the expression that comes most readily to mind, though at least the Turf Moor fans will remember with fondness the sight of Nick Pope falling backwards in his own penalty area to plant his backside on the face of the already downed David Luiz, a player who did not endear himself to this part of the world by describing Burnley’s style as anti-football. On this evidence his own team are not so clever either. This was a long afternoon in east Lancashire.

The mystery at half-time was why Arsenal were not two or three goals in front, instead of moodily passing the ball around their own half with Mezut Özil summing up a particularly ineffective display by talking himself into a needless booking just before the interval.

The visitors could have gone in front in under two minutes when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang picked out an unmarked Alexandre Lacazette with an inviting cross only for the striker to miss the target with a free header.

Aubameyang himself was guilty of similar profligacy when he reached a long ball from David Luiz behind the Burnley back line. The hard work seemed to have been done when the offside flag stayed down yet Aubameyang came up with an uncharacteristically rushed finish, stabbing the ball wide with a clear sight of goal.

When the next opportunity arrived courtesy of an excellent pass from Granit Xhaka, the Arsenal captain unwisely tried to lob Pope in the Burnley goal. The goalkeeper stood tall, quite an easy thing for him to do, and saved comfortably, but once again Arsenal had failed to take advantage of a one-on-one situation.

Not that Burnley’s finishing was any better. Jay Rodriguez brought a good save from Bernd Leno midway through the first half with a well struck shot from outside the area, but when Shkodran Mustafi fell over in failing to clear a Dwight McNeil cross the ball ran free to Jeff Hendrick at the far post the Irish midfielder wafted his shot wastefully wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Burnley would have been barely deserving of a half-time lead but they had their chances, even if not all of them were as clear-cut as those of their opponents. It was a drab sort of game that badly needed a goal to liven it up, yet neither side appeared capable of converting their openings.

Xhaka and Lucas Torreira joined Özil in the referee’s book before the hour came up, marked by Hendrick missing the target from six yards from McNeil’s pinpoint cross. James Tarkowski and Ben Mee also headed wide from free-kicks in the second half, when it began to appear Burnley might profit from Arsenal’s indiscipline by scoring from a set piece.

No such luck, sadly. Rodriguez scuffed a shot wide at one end, Hectór Bellerín dribbled promising into the area at the other but opted to ignore the waiting Lacazette and Joe Willock in favour of trying his own luck and shooting inaccurately, before Aubameyang rose to meet a Lacazette cross and shaved the outside of a post.

At least Aubameyang was close, though not as close as Rodriguez 10 minutes from the end when his close-range shot hit the bar and bounced down onto the goalline. A couple of inches lower and Burnley might have had their first ever Premier League victory over Arsenal.

After beating Manchester United last week they have won against all the other elite teams in the division, but it was not to be. This game, quite simply, did not deserve a winner. – Guardian

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