Football Features

Burnley 0-0 Arsenal: Mikel Arteta’s patience must be wearing thin after today’s role reversal

By Ollie Thomas

Burnley 0-0 Arsenal: winners and losers

Published: 16:11, 2 February 2020

Burnley’s 36-year wait for a league victory over Arsenal goes on after both sides missed a host of chances to win the game.

Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both put the ball wide with the goal at their mercy in the opening half an hour before Burnley rallied.

Jeff Hendrick missed a hat-trick of chances before Jay Rodriguez was denied by goal-line technology as both sides were forced to settle for a hard-earned point.

Here are the winners and losers from Turf Moor.

Winner: James Tarkowski

It wasn’t too long ago that Tarkowski was widely regarded as one of the best English centre-backs around. Whilst his national team days are likely behind him, today was a timely reminder that he’s still got that appetite for defending that made him so effective.

No player on the pitch made more clearances (seven) or interceptions (two) than Tarkowski today and his heroic challenge on Alexandre Lacazette in the first-half denied what was surely a certain goal (well, maybe not, given the Frenchman’s form. More on that later…)

Nullifying Arsenal’s attack is no mean feat, but Tarkowski did so with relative ease this afternoon.

Loser: Arsenal’s strikers

Mikel Arteta’s faith in the Lacazette is somewhat admirable, but his patience must be beginning to wear thin.

He hasn’t scored away from home in nearly a year and he spurned a golden opportunity to break that duck within the first two minutes of the game. Perhaps this shouldn’t have been a surprise: after all, this was his eighth consecutive appearance without a goal.

Fortunately for Lacazette, he can usually rely on striker partner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to shoulder the goalscoring responsibility. However, the Arsenal talisman took a leaf out of Lacazette’s book and wasted two massive chances which would have surely guaranteed the Gunners a valuable victory.

It’s not often that Arsenal’s attack lets down its defence, but that’s exactly what happened today.

Loser: Mesut Ozil

Talking of underwhelming performances away from home, misplaced faith by Mikel Arteta and a chronic lack of goal distributions…

If you thought Lacazette’s drought was bad, Mesut Ozil’s wait for an away assist in the Premier League is now over two years. For a player of his undoubted ability, that is simply not good enough.

It’s not for the lack of trying. Ozil does seem to look far busier than he used to under previous managers – in fact, he regained possession six times whilst he was on the pitch today: no Arsenal player managed more in the same period of time.

However, that isn’t his job. His role in the team is to make things happen, specifically goals. One assist in 15 Premier League appearances is a clear indication that he is failing to do that.

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Winner: Dwight McNeil

The emergence of Dwight McNeil could not have worked out better for Sean Dyche’s side.

So often accused of lacking guile and creativity, him bursting onto the scene meant they added both of those attributes (in abundance) to their side whilst maintaining their defensive rigidness, without spending a penny.

Had it not been for his team-mates’ wastefulness, McNeil’s five key passes (more than anyone else on the pitch) would have led to a few assists and a very satisfying three points. He also regained possession more times (11) than any other player. Is there anything this boy can’t do?

Winner: Sean Dyche

When the new year came around, there was a very real possibility that Burnley could be playing Championship football next season. Before a few weeks ago, the Clarets had failed to even muster a point since mid-December.

However, their last three league outings have flipped their season on its head. An enthralling comeback victory over high-flying Leicester was topped by a famous win at Old Trafford (and a well-earned clean sheet, too). Whilst their mini winning streak is over, they will be delighted to have broken their Arsenal hoodoo – that was the first time in 11 meetings that they’ve even managed to scrape a draw against the Gunners.

Burnley’s unwavering faith in Sean Dyche must be admired and it is certainly paying dividends. Well done, Sean.

Loser: Jay Rodriguez

Don’t get us wrong, Rodriguez was excellent again today. But that chance… oh, that chance.

The striker was denied a memorable late winner by the finest of margins, as his volley rebounded onto the bar and agonisingly onto Leno’s goal-line. It would have been the least he, and his side, deserved. But, unfortunately, their 36-year wait for a league win against Arsenal goes on.

Last time these two sides played each other, Ashley Barnes scored to further his reputation as one of the most prolific strikers of 2019. This time around, however, it is Rodriguez who continues to impress the Turf Moor faithful.