Sunday, January 6, 2008

Burnley vs. Arsenal: Match Review

A young Arsenal side reached the fourth round of the FA Cup after defeating a resilient Burnley 2-0 at the Turf Moor in front of a crowd of 16,000.

Eduardo continued his great run of form by scoring the Gunners' first after 9 minutes and supplying the pass for Nicklas Bendtner's first and Arsenal's second in the 75th.

The Croat and the Dane were two bright spots in an off-color Arsenal squad that would not have found such a favorable result against a Premier League team with the same display.

Burnley: Gabor Kiraly; Graham Alexander, Steven Caldwell, John Harley, Stanislav Varga; Wade Elliot, Chris McCann, James O'Connor, Robbie Blake; Andy Gray, Kyle Lafferty

Arsenal: Jens Lehmann; Bacary Sagna, Kolo Toure, Philippe Senderos, Armand Traore; Neves Denilson, Gilberto Silva, Abou Diaby, Emmanuel Eboue; Eduardo, Nicklas Bendtner

Arsenal put some pressure on Burnley for the first few minutes, but it was the Clarets who had the first chance of the game, nearly stunning the London giants through Kyle Lafferty after 5 minutes. Andy Gray had made a surging run down the right flank, and crossed the ball into the penalty area where it was met by Lafferty who hit Lehmann's crossbar with the German already looking beaten.

The chance lifted the crowd at the Turf Moor and for a few moments it looked as though Burnley could truly be giant-killers. Unfortunately for the home fans, though, it was the Gunners who took the lead only four minutes later.

Kolo Toure chipped a long ball up the field to Eduardo, who finished coolly to make it 6 goals in the last 4 games. The Croatian is finally beginning to look like he could challenge for a spot even when Robin van Persie returns.

Burnley did not falter under the pressure, and continued to attack Arsenal. Gray had a shot blocked by Bacary Sagna and Robbie Blake fired just over, but it was Arsenal who would come closest to scoring again in the first half. Gilberto, who has yet to score a goal for the club this season, rose to meet a corner, but saw his header cleared off the line by a well positioned Graham Alexander.

The Clarets had their own chance before 45 minutes were up though, when the inexperienced Armand Traore had trouble clearing the ball out of the penalty area. The ball was stolen and Jens Lehmann was completely out of position, but Chris McCann granted the Gunners a needed lifeline by shooting well over the bar.

Arsenal's final chance of the half saw Nicklas Bendtner attempt a bicycle kick after a cross from Denilson. Unfortunately for the tall Dane, his shot fell straight to the Burnley keeper, and the half ended with a lackluster Arsenal one goal up.

The Gunners came out strongly after the restart, with a clever one-two setting Eduardo free. The Croatian uncharacteristically misplaced his finish, firing just left of the post.

Burnley were still hoping to earn a replay, but lost their chance when Lafferty was somewhat contentiously sent off in the 60th minute. The Burnley forward's tackle had not looked malicious, and although his studs were up, the red card was very harsh. Referee Alan Wiley had no question though, brandishing the red without any hesitation at all.

Arsenal had the upper hand now, and should have scored soon after. Emmanuel Eboue couldn't decide whether to cross or shoot and his ball into the box came nowhere near to doing anything.

The goal came soon enough though, when Eduardo turned supplier with a perfect pass to Bendtner. The 19 year-old rounded Gabor Kiraly easily and slotted home to announce his return from suspension after two yellow cards at Everton. The goal ended Burnley's hopes of FA Cup glory.

The scoreline was flattering for Arsenal and tough on Burnley, but the Gunners were still happy to be in to the next round. However, they will have to play better to defeat stronger opposition in the future.