By Biodun Aiyegbusi
Every EPL faithful knows that going to Turfmoor is tough. Premiership journeymen Burnley are definitely not the “Santa Claus” of the league. You fight for every/any point you get on that ground. Burnley play the typical robust 4-4-2 in the English way, very direct, intense running, robust wing play, crosses into the box, two huge front men jumping with elbows in your face, contesting every ball with leg crunching tackles. Classic “footbrawling” and “jambody”, no disrespect. Count yourself lucky if you escape with the three points and no injuries to any player, like we did.
Arsenal were indeed lucky, as the ugly match was decided by an exquisite Martin Odergaard freekick in the first half. A very beautiful, well executed goal. The first half was when Arsenal played some meaningful football. They had possession, some offensive intention and comfortably contained the Burnley boys. The attack is still dull after 5 games. Aubameyang is not ready, there is no understanding or harmony in their play. Wrong decision making, wrongly weighted, inaccurate passes, feeble shots at goal and so much ineffective huffing and puffing. To date, Arsenal have only the scrambled egg goal versus Norwich and Odergaard’s freekick to show after 5 games. Though we score basketful of goals in closed door friendlies and Carabao cup games.
At the beginning of the second half, I thought Arsenal would naturally adopt a counterattacking mode. Allow Burnley have the ball, since they needed the equalizer badly and then hit them with a goal or two when they were out of position. Obviously, I read the script wrong. Arsenal were so poor in the second half we nearly gave the game away with our forced and unforced errors, like the VAR penalty incident. Thanks to Gabriel and Ramsdale and Lokonga who stood tall and repelled everything Burnley threw at them. Arsenal’s second half collapse was both physical and mental. they played with no sense, no intent and no desire…..if they had, only few showed it. That 2nd half was one of the worst I’ve seen them play with 11 men under Arteta. It just wasn’t it.
At the end though, THEY WON…..which is all that matters. 3 huge points and a four-rungs climb up the premiership ladder. They are now 12th from our former 16th position. Positives….you’ll say, but for many of the fans, it still not good enough.
The fans must be delighted with the victory but very unhappy with the performance. It is good to be able to win ugly but this team can’t rely on winning ugly all the time. We have played 5 matches so far and there has been nothing to show for the much hyped “Artetaball”. The ” juego de posicion” or “positionsspiel” as the German speakers call it, is not working at the Emirates yet even if it works in the Etihad. Arsenal are unable to execute whatever drills they’ve been practicing on the pitch consistently and effectively on match days. Unless their fans decide to get carried away with their latest “1-nil to the Arsenal” victories. The team has no definable style, no character and that X factor that would-be champions are expected to have. As unpredictable as the EPL is, they are far from being top-4 candidates with their performances so far.
For now, the results has reduced the decibel of the din from the Arteta- out and Arteta-in camps. Since the Arteta-in camp is leading on points, everyone get behind the team, believe in and support the process. Next up in the league is Spurs……a 1- nil to the Arsenal victory will do just fine. Let’s build a winning momentum and go on a 34 matches unbeaten run.
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