As Arsenal extended their unbeaten run away from home to nine games, they left Burnley with a point for the third Premier League game in a row which left them 10th, lingering 10 points off the top four. I look at how we played today and whether we improved on recent displays.
It was a performance typical of Arsenal over the past few years away from home. We lacked any midfield control, lost duels and second balls, and in the end lucky to come away with a point. Arteta elected to start Matteo Guendouzi over Lucas Torreira following his performance at Bournemouth last week but he was lack-lustre with his passing and there was a complete lack of control. Mesut Ozil produced another below par performance, unable to break in between the lines and wayward in his passing at times before being hooked for Joe Willock.
How Alexandre Lacazette managed to get 88 minutes really baffled me and I’m sure others. Another absolutely insipid performance away from home which means it is now a whole calendar year since he scored away from home in the Premier League, poor finishing, useless flicks and tricks and giving the ball away too cheaply just a few of the things he did. I was quite surprised that Lacazette was fitted in to push Aubameyang out wide where he is so ineffective and it’s getting to a point where Mikel needs to give the Frenchman a few games out of the team because it is not helping anyone. He looks a shadow of the player he was last season and I wonder it is worth looking to see if we can get him off the books in the summer, which might be best for both parties.
Arteta pointed out that Burnley winning free kicks and set pieces, throw ins and corners disrupted the rhythm of Arsenal getting any hold on the match, and whilst I agree with him to an extent, we really didn’t help ourselves. For the first time under Arteta, I feel we were very poor in transition, there were times where Aubameyang was dropping into central midfield to accommodate Lacazette, Bellerin rarely got forward, which was surprising considering the lack of Bukayo Saka on the other side. I am really surprised that Nicolas Pepe wasn’t used considering how bad we were going forward.
Aubameyang and Lacazette both missed good first-half chances, Martinelli seemed ineffective on the right hand side and missed the overlap and support of Bukayo Saka in the second half. I think as soon as Granit Xhaka was pushed into left back in the second half, we lost any real hope that we would control the game. Guendouzi had another one of his inconsistent, kamikaze games, Torreira took a while to get into the game and we rarely had anyone make a run in behind, which, considering our transitional ability in recent matches, was again surprising.
I hope Arteta will take a lot from this. I didn’t agree on team selection and I think substitutions were questionable. Despite being unbeaten away from home since losing to Leicester in November, we have only won one of the nine which is something we must address. I don’t think it is something to go overboard on yet considering we have Kieran Tierney, Sead Kolasinac, Cedric, Pablo Mari, Reiss Nelson all potentially available for selection after the international break.
Let this be a learning curve for Mikel.
Occasional writer who follows the Arsenal home and away. Dennis is our greatest ever.