Arsenal had VAR and luck against them but Mikel Arteta’s side paid for individual error again in Burnley draw

Simon Collings
·3 min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

If ever a game summed up Arsenal’s season, then this draw at Burnley was it.

Arsenal dominated possession, created chances and went ahead, but they failed to kill the game after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put them ahead inside six minutes.

Instead, they gifted Burnley an equaliser as Granit Xhaka’s pass inside his own box was knocked in by Chris Wood’s hip. And yes, it was as bizarre a goal as it sounds.

Arsenal could have still won the game from there, but referee Andre Marriner and VAR decided Erik Pieters hadn’t handled the ball inside the box when Nicolas Pepe flicked it over him.

Minutes later, VAR then overruled a penalty that Arsenal had been awarded after Pieters had saved Pepe’s shot with his shoulder. To top it all off, the Gunners could’ve won it in the final seconds - but Dani Ceballos’ shot cannoned off the post.

POOL/AFP via Getty Images
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

So once again, Arsenal were punished for not killing the game and by an individual error - with luck and VAR not being on their side either. It is a potent combination and one that has ultimately cost Arsenal this season.

Mikel Arteta has regularly called for Arsenal to be more ruthless in attack, but his side didn’t do that against Burnley.

Aubameyang’s early goal gave them the perfect platform, but chances were squander after that and Bukayo Saka - who has in fairness been brilliant this season - was one of those guilty of doing so.

POOL/AFP via Getty Images
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The bigger issue, though, was that Arsenal shot themselves in the foot defensively and gifted Burnley their goal.

That is nothing new. Remember the Gunners’ Europa League tie with Benfica? Arteta moaned then about how they gave the Portuguese side two goals across the legs - with Emile Smith Rowe’s handball penalty and Ceballos’ poor headed back-pass.

There was also the match at Aston Villa last month, when an early mix-up between Cedric and Gabriel handed Aston Villa the lead on a plate.

And, just as it was today, that has so often been Arsenal’s problem this season. They are trying to progress under Arteta - and they are doing so - but it will be a slow process if they keep giving themselves mountains to climb.

Chambers return offers food for thought

Calum Chambers has had to wait over a year to play in the Premier League again after his serious knee injury, but he finally made his comeback today. Before his injury, the 26-year-old was playing as a centre-back in his few appearances under Arteta.

But he returned today and operated at right-back, which offers food for thought going forward. Hector Bellerin has been the first choice there all season, but Cedric Soares has put pressure on him with his form.

Chambers’ emergence only adds to that and is also perhaps a nod to the future. There has been speculation Bellerin could leave this summer. Arsenal would need a new right-back if so, unless Arteta views Chambers as an ideal option there?

He certainly did his chances no harm today, putting in a solid display against Burnley. His challenge now is to build on it when handed the opportunity again.

Aubameyang continues his fine record against Burnley

There seems to be three certainties in life - death, taxes and Aubameyang scoring against Burnley. The forward has now scored eight times against Sean Dyche’s side - which is more than he has against any other Premier League opponent.

There was a hint of fortune about his goal today, with Nick Pope unable to get a strong enough hand there to keep his effort out. The 31-year-old wouldn’t have minded, however, as it gave Arsenal a fast start. The frustration was that they didn’t build on it.

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