Arsenal 0-0 Burnley
The tentative optimism of Thursday morning had well and truly evaporated by 4pm yesterday. There was a smattering of boos at the final whistle – boos of frustration more than anything else – and off we plodded to make sense of it all.
It was a weird game from the get-go, because in the first few minutes you could see the pace of the game was not right. Burnley, who manned the barricades all afternoon, had erected their defenses and largely just sat there. For the most part, Arsenal did not know what to do about it.
It was walking pace at times, with sideways passes, then backwards passes, then more of the same, and it must have been pretty easy to defend against.
When we did look dangerous it was thanks to the rare moments when we turned up the dial and ran at them full pelt, stretching them: proper Arsenal stuff, and we nearly scored a few times but for poor finishing and strident defending. But there was much too much of the cat and mouse stuff in between.
Burnley had a few moments too, with Ramsdale making a couple of good saves, but really, it was a game that we would have won had we upped the ante for more than just short bursts.
My kingdom for some warm weather training
I bet the massed ranks of our weary, suspended and crocked squad can not wait for some r & r in Dubai. You really felt they were running (or ambling) on empty yesterday.
Frankly, having not left these shores for two years I could do with some warm-weather training myself. I’m weary and crocked and can only sprint in very short bursts. Spare seat on the plane?
Reinforcements and returnees
Like many clubs this January, we’re in need of reinforcements. Without Xhaka and Partey yesterday we lacked a bit of experience (not that Lokonga and Odegaard did that badly – they both worked hard). But for me, the biggest miss was Tomiyasu, whose forward momentum gives us far more options down the right. White was OK there when it came to passing – but he’s no right back and was pretty static.
Shame, because Saka was quite lively and got past his man a few times. He was also targeted and turfed far too much, without much help from the referee.
Lacazette was busy but ineffective, and that position for me is ringing the old klaxons. Nobody can fault his work ethic but this season he’s nothing like prolific enough and he misses too many of the presentable chances that come his way. Now, either some grown ups (or world-class mediators) need to sit down and come up with a diplomatic solution to Aubameyang’s exile for the next four months, or we need to buy someone in the next week to give us that boost.
It does seem insane that the most obvious and cheapest solution is right here, if only the relationship could be patched up temporarily. It does not feel likely right now though. However, if a deal can be done for a genuine talent, one who can grow and develop as the six summer signings have, then you’d hope they’re throwing everything at getting that deal over the line.
We’ve had a dismal January, during which we’ve scored just once. So this next fortnight is a blessed relief, and come the end of it our suspended players will be back, the squad should be fitter, and we may even have a new face or two.
I look forward to the official photos of Saka on an inflatable unicorn already.