Premier League: Arsenal move up to fourth
Burnley 0-1 Arsenal
Arsenal triumphed against Burnley and they re-entered the top four a point above Tottenham Hotspur. “For us after the win against Tottenham it was important to go away and win it and that’s what we did – for the benefit of the team, it’s very important. They defended very well, they were well organized, clever, intelligent and direct. When you play them you understand why they have 22 points,” said veteran Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger after his side’s victory away at Turf Moor. In the battle for a top-four finish in the Premier League this season, Arsenal have a major advantage over most of their rivals in the “Big Six” group of titan EPL clubs, the absence of Champions League football in their schedule. Without the need to field their best XI twice a week, the Gunners are able to go into their Premier League fixtures with freshness and focus. Both qualities were important to Arsene Wenger’s Gunners side in defeating an in form and impressive Burnley side this weekend. Burnley manager Sean Dyche's men have been staying up in the top seventh place of the division. Wenger spoke to the media on prior to the clash that could result in either Arsenal or Burnley in moving up to fourth.
"Of course they are the surprise package because if you asked before the season 100 people 'Will Burnley have 22 points at this stage in the season?' 90 would have said no and the 10 others would have been Burnley supporters," said Wenger. Burnley's success gives credit to Dyche who is an accomplished coach who has turned the Clarets into a dangerous Premier League team who have already taken points from Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Liverpool this campaign. Dyche and his men went into the match with their sights set on getting three points from Arsenal. The Gunners came into the game with Burnley off the back of a 1-0 Europa League defeat against Koln. However, Arsenal won their group in spite of their defeat at the RheinEnergieStadion. A completely different starting XI took to the field on Sunday against Burnley. Wenger started his "Premier League team" – a starting lineup whose confidence was high after securing an impressive North London Derby victory against Tottenham Hotspur last week.
This exciting match ended in Burnley heartbreak when James Tarkowski came together with Aaron Ramsey in the area and Lee Mason awarded a penalty. Alexis Sánchez sent the ball home through Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope. Seconds later Mason blew for time and boos filled the air. The official made a hard decision that cost Burnley the match. This was the 3rd time in a row that Burnley were beaten by Arsenal in controversial circumstances. In last season’s version, Laurent Koscielny’s handball was missed in a finish that proved to be the winner. Burnley claimed the defender was offside. In the reverse game at the Emirates, Sánchez claimed the points with a disputed 98th-minute spot-kick. Afterwards, a disappointed Burnley manager Sean Dyche talked about the penalty. “It was highly unlikely it wasn’t going to get given, you can draw your conclusions from that,” said Dyche. “It probably is a penalty but it was never not going to be given, I can assure you. You lay your hands on someone, he goes down, they are tough calls; you have to be 100%, which I assume the referee is. It’s a tough job for referees, it’s not going to change. There were some frustrations with some of the moments. I’ve not spoken to him. Ramsey, that was a smash in the back compared to what most people go down with. We’ve had a lot not given. I don’t know why. The bigger clubs seem to get the decisions; I’m not sure it’s that fact this afternoon. You have to be clear only because it’s unlikely he’s ever going to get there. So when is a foul a foul?” After talking with Ramsay, Arsène Wenger had a different view.
“When you speak to him, he didn’t throw himself on the ground,” said Wenger. “He wanted to go back and flick the ball, he was pushed in the back, had a problem in the neck from the push – it was a very strong push.” After Burnley’s impressive first-half display at Turf Moor, Arsenal could have been beaten. But Arsenal showed their character and came back into the contest more confident after the interval. Wenger sent out a different XI to the losing one at Cologne on Thursday, leaving out Mesut Özil, due to illness. “How bad is he, will he be available for Wednesday Town?” Wenger said. “We’ll have to see what it is.” Dyche made no changes to his squad from the 2-0 win against Swansea City who impressed in the opening 45 minutes against the Gunners. Icelander Johann Berg Gudmundsson forced Ramsey to concede a free-kick. When Robbie Brady’s delivery to Petr Cech’s area was stopped, moments later Gudmundsson intervened again. Arsenal once more cleared. Dyche had instructed his men to get at Arsenal via the long ball. Next Burnley came close to going behind as Alexandre Lacazette broke and flipped the ball into Ramsey, who did not beat Burnley goalie Nick Pope. Dyche’s men displayed speed of pass and movement. However, Sánchez pinned Burnley back at the start of the second period. Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere replaced Alex Iwobi on 66 minutes, Brady crashed a shot back off Koscielny. Sanchez scored and Arsenal won. The match could have gone the other way.
“There’s a lot of me inside that’s raging a lot,” said Dyche after his side lost to Arsenal. “I’ve told them that we continue to develop, we continue to move forward. I’ve also told them this is the reality. Football’s a harsh game and sometimes it hurts you.” Arsenal and Burnley went into the match in sixth and seventh, respectively, both clubs hoping to push on and claim a top-four spot with a win. The five teams above Arsenal all had Champions League football to contend with, which may have had an effect on their Premier League matches this weekend. On Sunday the Gunners and Burnley sides should have had fresh legs and clear minds. Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez picked up where the Gunners left off in their win over the Spurs in the North London Derby last week. Burnley started the match after a run of three consecutive top-flight wins, their best sequence since 1975. Their last 9 league matches have seen them produce six clean sheets with Nick Pope in charge of goal. Wenger was correct in anticipating a fierce battle from a Burnley team who seem capable of producing positive results. "Turf Moor is a very difficult place for everybody," Wenger said. "I believe that their capacity to be efficient with restricted possession as well. You know they've won games with 30, 25 percent possession. That means they know what they want to do and are patient to have that killing instinct of a snake. They put you to that pace and suddenly they bite you."
Wenger believes his Arsenal side took on the "most unexpected team'' in the Premier League when they traveled to Burnley. The Clarets had earned 22 points from their opening 12 league games. Arsenal faced Sean Dyche's Burnley side at Turf Moor looking to move up to the top four. Burnley won at champions Chelsea on the opening day of the season and have also taken points from both Liverpool and Spurs in an impressive start to their 2017-18 campaign. Arsenal headed into the game having beaten cross-town rivals Tottenham in last weekend's north London derby, with Wenger making 11 changes to that side as the Gunners slipped to a 1-0 Europa League defeat at Cologne on Thursday. Arsenal played well to beat their local rivals as Shkodran Mustafi and Sanchez struck in a 2-0 win over Spurs.
"The intensity of the game was total because both teams went for it,'' said Wenger about the Gunners game with Burnley. "Both teams, every time they won the ball, went forward so the intensity was higher. Every game gives you a different problem to sort out for you to find a strategic solution to be efficient. They are a team who maybe play a bit deeper than Tottenham because they have a strong defensive efficiency. You have to keep your nerve, even if you have the ball, to be calm and accurate. You have to be defensively strong as well because they are very efficient going forward.''
What’s next for Arsenal?
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Premier League Gameweek 13 Update
Gameweek 13 of the 2017-18 Premier League season is now over, with big winners Manchester City staying in first place. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola saw “Top Six” Premier League title rivals Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, and Liverpool all drop points on Saturday, as Man City kept their 8 point advantage over second-placed Manchester United by beating Huddersfield Town 2-1 on Sunday. Tottenham were held to a 1-1 Wembley draw by West Brom. Chelsea rescued a 1-1 draw at Anfield against Liverpool to leave the title competitors well behind the leaders. Arsenal beat Burnley 1-0 late on to rise into the top four. Jose Mourinho's Manchester United side beat Brighton 1-0 to stay in second place, heading into a busy festive fixture schedule. West Ham kicked off the weekend's action on Friday night against Leicester as David Moyes secured a 1-1 draw in his first London Stadium match. Crystal Palace beat Stoke 2-1 at Selhurst Park for their second victory of the season.
EPL Table Premier League 2017-18 standings as of November 26, 2017
1) Man City
2) Man United
Premier League Gameweek 13 Results
Friday, November 24
West Ham 1 Leicester 1
Saturday, November 25
Crystal Palace 2 Stoke 1
Man United 1 Brighton 0
Newcastle 0 Watford 3
Swansea 0 Bournemouth 0
Tottenham 1 West Brom 1
Liverpool 1 Chelsea 1
Sunday, November 26
Southampton 4 Everton 1
Burnley 0 Arsenal 1
Huddersfield 1 Man City 2
Premier League Gameweek 14 fixtures, tickets
Tuesday, November 28
Brighton v Crystal Palace
Leicester v Tottenham
Watford v Man United
West Brom v Newcastle
Wednesday, November 29
Arsenal v Huddersfield
Bournemouth v Burnley
Chelsea v Swansea
Everton v West Ham
Man City v Southampton
Stoke v Liverpool