Arsenal v Burnley Afterthoughts: We Do It to Ourselves, We do, And That’s What Really Hurts

Burnley 1 -1 Arsenal

Well that was disappointing. A must win game in which we were the much better team but still managed to give away two precious points. I know that Arsenal are in transition under Arteta and that setbacks are to be expected, but too many times have we lost now to a team that we should have beaten with some ease.

The main culprits are a lack of concentration/calm and a much needed sense of urgency and purpose, leading to both costly mistakes and untaken great chances in almost every game. Today, we saw Xhaka misplacing a ball under pressure and via a lucky bounce disappear into the net. So frustrating. The Xhaka-haters are out in force tonight but, although it was him who should have passed better, it clearly was also a team mistake. Xhaka, facing his own goal keeper in the box, had a player closely behind him and his passing options were limited after he received the ball from Leno who, in my opinion, should have opted for a different player at that moment in time. Fact is that we allowed Burnley back into the game when we should have been up by two or three goals already, if we had had the better bounce of the ball. That is football, though.

The second half performance was frustrating for a long time but, clearly, VAR(ce) and lady luck were not on our side. It was not to be and we just have to move on.

Eight quick observations:

  1. The pitch was slow and hard. This did not help us in moving the ball quickly and accurately, and the ball had more bounce than usual, which may explain Pepe’s air shot in a great position.
  2. After Arsenal scored the early goal the boys put the foot off the gas. I missed the required urgency to get that all important second goal, and it showed in the way the likes of Auba and Saka took their chances. Then in the second half there actually seemed to be too much urgency, leading to a lack of composure when it mattered.
  3. Partey had possibly his worst game in an Arsenal shirt. For large parts he had to chase the game and he offered very little going forward. I am a huge fan of Thomas and I expect he was nowhere near 100%, but he should not play if this is what he is going to do on the pitch. Arteta waited much too long with replacing him. Ceballos made good contributions from the moment he came on and was unlucky not to score.
  4. We missed the glue-man, ESR, a lot. I like Odegaard and thought he worked reasonably hard, but running constantly between the lines and being the one that connects them is not Martin’s big skill, it seems. I also thought that Saka looked rusty, which goes to show that sometimes a break is not what a player needs.
  5. However, Willian did a lot of the link up play well today, and it was his quick move – letting the ball roll past him rather than taking a first touch with his back towards the opponent’s goal – that made all the difference: he was able to give it quicker to Auba who then had enough space to do his dance and surprise the keeper enough to score again.
  6. It was great to see Chambers getting a start today but he struggled in the RB position, both defensively and in attack. I will not be hard on him as he deserves more time to get back into the rhythm of things. Not having the attacking threat of either Soares (ideally) or Bellerin really did not help us today, though.
  7. Tierney was also much quieter today, and it made me wonder whether the boys were holding back a bit for what they may see as the much bigger game: the Europa League encounter with Olympiacos. The pitch was slow but the players were too, and maybe that early goal really did not help us in that respect.
  8. We all know that we should have had a penalty for handling in the box, and it is clear that VAR remains a work in progress. Subjectivity and interpretations of the rules seem to dominate certain aspects of VAR decision making, and as long as this is the case it will remain contentious and, to be frank, a pain in the backside.

Let’s quickly forget about this game. Arteta knows that these continuous silly mistakes have to be ironed out, but this will take time. We also lacked luck, but in the end we did not deserve to take all three points because the boys left it too late to mean business and turn things round.

By TotalArsenal.

29 thoughts on “Arsenal v Burnley Afterthoughts: We Do It to Ourselves, We do, And That’s What Really Hurts

  • When the bounce of the ball keeps going against you and you appear to lose out in the 50-50s, it is usually a sign it may not be your day. I was concerned about how often we lost out in the duels, particularly in the second half. Once we let them in with an equalizer that was of our own making, they knew the doubts will creep in and they took advantage, the hosts.

    It is important that Arteta instils higher standards of operation in this team, insisting they get ruthless and hunger for more goals, when we go ahead against the lesser teams. I can understand the need for game management when against the top sides. Burnley was there for the taking and we fluffed our lines to make Sean Dyche seem like a coaching genius. I also agree the game in midweek may be a factor in the choice of the starting 11 and the lethargic play but, I daresay, the 3 points should have been the goal today.

    Strange sort of game. It would be hard to pick a man of the match for Arsenal, as everyone looked below par. I hope the boys get over this quickly.

  • TA, agree with your points and the fact that pitch was heavy and our passing was off. This happened in an earlier match as well and felt the weight of pass was a bit off. That’s where I come back to my frustrations about lack of footballing intelligence. Whether it’s the pitch or state of the match or apponents lack of bite who is the leader in the team who can quickly asses the game and relay the message within the team and regroup. Or is it the job of the managers or his army of coach. I find this mind boggling we just don’t seem tk learn at all and make the same mistake. Burnely were dire in the first half an hour and bereft of ideas. We have them a gift and motivated them.
    I heard Arteta saying post match that he is not blaming anyone who plays according tk his ideals, in this case he was refering to playing from the back. I think he is encouraging the wrong bravery. In that particular sequence there were a combination of 4 players playing between themselves and not being able get out of the box resulting in finally hitting the apponent who was yards out and deflecting into goal. Come on these are professional footballers abd they cannot pass to thier team mate by missing an apponent who is just yards away from him. Also encouraging this kind of passing instead of being more brave and finding a pass furthehr forward from your own box is ludicrous. I didn’t see anyone taking his nearest man shielding the ball, getting past him and passing teh ball forward. Passing the ball forward away from your box will reduce the percentage of gifting teh oppostion of a chance at scoring a gaol. Isn’t this common sense. Way too many individual errors across the team and it’s becoming a systemic issue.

  • Another point I heard on a podcast that Xhaka has made 8 individual errors that have led to a goal. I don’t have a problem with Xhaka but two points that iam bothered in this.
    1. I would love to see an academy product someone like AMN or young player making these mistakes and hsowing that he is learning, not a 28 yr old Swiss international with a large paycheck.
    2. Both the manager and player is partly responsible. Manager is unable to weed out these mistakes or make him paly percentage football knwoing his propensity of mistakes and the player himspef not showing signs of working on his weeknesss abd showing improvement.
    Look everywhere in professional life if you don’t show improvement you are toasted but in this team iam not seeing this.

  • T!!!!
    You saw me mention Radiohead the other day.
    “Just” is an all time favorite. Anyone who hasn’t seen the brilliant video for the song… do yourselves a favor, check it out. Makes you think.

  • I don’t agree with every observation here, but I’m really grateful this structured and clear summary, because one single word helped me realize what is my main concern with Arteta’s Arsenal in recent season.
    But I start with my disagreements, so I can sign off on a positive note. 🙂

    I think Chambers had a great game. At least a good one. He made the most clearances on the pitch (6) which is not unusual only because he was playing full back, but also because Tarkowski and Mee (who were also having a good game) are ball-clearing machines. Furthermore nobody made more key passes than him (2 – joint with McNeil, Vydra and Odegaard). So in my view he was really good in his own merit, and quite remarkable taking into account that his last PL start happened 15 month ago in 2019 December. (He could be a good utility option for RB, as his 182 cm is relatively short for a CB, but he is the tallest Arsenal full back.)

    I think Willian only had a good 25-30 minutes; for the rest of the game he was as ineffective as everybody else. He doesn’t deserve to be singled out, mostly due to Xhaka; and also because Saka had a terrible game. For my eyes Bukayo didn’t look fatigued per se, rather mentally tired as he consistently made uncharacteristically wrong decisions. He could have had a day off, as the pressure can threaten not only in the form of injuries to a 19-year-old… It is easy to challenge Mikel’s starting line-up in hindsight, but hopefully not as bold to criticize him for making the wrong substitution. Because if Lacazette would have replaced Saka and take on the front while Auba moves to LW sending Willian to RW that could have been a more potent attack with Odegaard being ready for a through ball then the actual mess we had with Lacazette playing (false) #10.

    Moving on to my agreements with TA’s fine list of observations. Complaining on the missed penalty is a low-hanging fruit, but in defense the regulations are quite stupid there. It seems absurd that the VAR-referee checks the situation in his solitude and possibly awards a penalty possibly after 90 seconds when the team committing a fault has driven a dangerous counterattack, and are preparing for a corner on the other end of the pitch.

    Coming back to my main problem with Arteta’s Arsenal is the shocking – and often scenic – lack of URGENCY; which I realized only after reading TA’s post. As if the boys go out to the pitch believing that everything is gonna be fine (alles wird gut). While the last 30 minutes of the Benfica game is the perfect counter-example, its first 60 still proves my point, that the team under-prioritizes scoring goals to not conceding, and they are seemingly comfortable with creating a very few – and often missed – chances as long as we have the ball; implicitly hoping that one of the (rare) chances could and will be converted in the following period. But it’s a footballing cliché that you can always concede one – from a free kick (Benfica, 2nd leg), corner (Leeds), unbelievable long shot (Wolves’ Moutinho), own goal (Southampton), individual mistakes (Ceballos, Xhaka), penalty (Benfica, first leg), so the team has to run after the game under pressure.

    I think the following facts prove my point on the lack of urgency being a systematic problem, not just a few-games phenomenon:
    – Arsenal scores less goals under Arteta than under Emery or Wenger
    – Arsenal concedes more, which might be less obviously related, but the opponent plays with more motivation when only down by one than if Arsenal leads by 3-4 goals
    – We have a table topping statistic of scoring the most goals in the PL in the 45-60 minute window – when Arteta reminds the team of the apparent urgency
    – Young players often outperform their elder teammates (as they might have a stronger internal drive to give their best/most to stake their claims)
    – The few games when we managed to turn around after falling behind were 2 EL games (with young players, although against poor opponents), the PL game vs Southampton (after the cup defeat, being a matter of honor) and the Benfica knock-out game (advertised as final – hence the urgency)

  • Thanks for that Total, kudos to you for searching out the positives…

    There’s not a lot we can do about the parlous state of refereeing in England, it’s a scandle but the media cover it up as they have so much invested in the great God that is the EPL.

    Maybe the club could go public with its concerns, I mean I don’t think that the FA could fine Tim Lewis if he decided to publicise the clubs concerns over the quality and even handed nature of the PGMOL.

    But Arsenal don’t like to make a fuss do they?

    In the final analysis if Pepe scores it doesn’t matter, his was probably the worst example of mental lapses and technical weakness. We do have a lot of that in this squad…

  • I too thought that Chambers had a good game for a player coming back after a long time away from the first team. Defensively he was very good however, he didn’t get forward as much as Cedric (who should be #1 RB at the moment) or Bellerin. I think he may continue to struggle to get game time as, like AMN, he is too versatile.

    I thought that the Burnley goal was 80% Leno’s fault. He could see who was pressing, and from where, much better than Xhaka or the other defenders and he should have cleared his lines.

    The lack of urgency isn’t new. A lethargic approach to the first half was evident in Wenger’s last couple of seasons and under Emery. I’ve lost count of the times that the manager has to kick the team up the **** at half-time.

    I agree with PB that we shouldn’t be afraid to use the long ball over to one of the forwards. It has worked for teams like Liverpool and Man $ity, why not us? PEA, Saka, Laka, Martinelli, Eddie are all capable of making runs that break the defensive lines.

    Some are saying that Willian is doing OK because he has now made more assists than any other Arsenal player this season but the stats can deceive and I was disappointed with him. PEA made his goal himself. Like PB I would have left him on but on the other wing.

    Let’s hope that the team is fired up on Thursday!

  • Thanks for the good comments. A lot to agree and disagree with, but they are all opinions and we all need to air our frustrations.

  • Pb I love that stat about our scoring early in the second half a lot. ….. do you also remember when we would improve after the water breaks? …when Arteta could spell things out for the players on the pitch.

    Proves that he has a great effect personally, but needs to work on instilling more information and motivation, especially, before the game starts.

  • It’s quite simple really: Xhaka contributes a worldy assist for Burnley. If he doesn’t we win.

    You can try and deflect blame, but there’s only one place to look.

    Xhaka & Luiz should turn out in clown costumes considering the amount of comedy routines they pull off.

  • Retsubster, I have removed our comments re Terry M as I believe he is alive and kicking. Arseblog were reporting about a different person, I believe. 🙏

  • if I were asked for the most important advice I would give, that which I consider the most useful to the men of our century, I would simply say: ‘In the name of God, Stop a moment, ease your work, look around you’. Leo Tolstoy

  • Thanks TA that was a little weird, I am certain it said Terry M on the the Eulogy, but as you know i have the odd screw loose. Apologies for any upset i might have caused.

  • Here are the results of last weekends competition:-
    For the week:-
    1st Kev – 4/6 plus 4 bonus points
    2nd Gooneris – 3/6
    3rd PB & GN5 – 2/6
    5th Total 1/6
    There were no predictions received from JW1
    For the season:-
    1st Gooneris with 94.33
    2nd Kev with 85.00
    3rd PB & JW1 with 77.66
    5th GN5 with 73.33
    6th Total with 62.66

  • Here are my choices for next weekends games:-
    Leeds v Chelsea
    Everton v Burnley
    Manchester United v West Ham
    Arsenal v Tottenham
    Leicester v Sheffield United
    Benevento v Fiorentina

  • Leeds v Chelsea: draw
    Everton v Burnley: draw
    Manchester United v West Ham: away
    Arsenal v Tottenham: home
    Leicester v Sheffield United: home
    Benevento v Fiorentina: draw

  • Re the last point in your post Total – I’ve forgotten the game already, It was easy to forget!

    Lets see what we can do on Thursday – we are running out of options to save the season

  • Leeds v Chelsea: away
    Everton v Burnley: home
    Manchester United v West Ham: home
    Arsenal v Tottenham: away
    Leicester v Sheffield United: home
    Benevento v Fiorentina: away

  • Kev is back! Nice one, GN5. JW1 may have been distracted last time out; hopefully, he gets in his predictions early enough.

    It’s tough to see Chelsea pick up form just with the addition of Tuchel; he must have something about him to turn the Yo-yo side Lampard left into such an efficient machine, in such a short time. West ham too winning game after game portends not so good news for our aspirations for a spot in the top 6 and European football next season. We would need to go on a long run without defeat and plenty of wins, to upend those ahead of us. Question is can we pull it off?

  • My predictions:

    Leeds v Chelsea. Away
    Everton v Burnley. Home
    Manchester United v West Ham. Home
    Arsenal v Tottenham. Draw
    Leicester v Sheffield United. Home
    Benevento v Fiorentina. Draw

  • Leeds Utd vs Chelsea… Away
    Everton vs Burnley……. Home
    Man Utd vs West Ham.. Home
    Arsenal vs Scumbags… Away
    Leicester vs Sheff Utd.. Home
    Benevento vs Fiorentina.. Away

  • I almost put an away win for West Ham because the Mancs have been rubbish at OT and the Hammers could, whisper it, make top four and that would be truly amazing.

    With every Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham and Manc win our chances of top four seem further and further away, in fact I have to confess that dropping two points at Burnley killed them for me.
    Top six is also beginning to look a bit of a pipe dream for us as well because even if the teams above us waste fully drop points we seem to go out and do the exact same.
    And as for Arsenal finishing 7th and maybe qualifying for the new fangled competition that UEFA are creating for 2021/22, well I don’t know what to think about that, it’ll be like qualifying for the Watney Cup, if any of you can remember that little honey…

    Yep, I’m beginning to prepare for Arsenal having no european competition next season and having to be serious about the League Cup for the first time since 1993…

    Good luck with that.

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