On the whistle: Arsenal 3, Burnley 1

Thursday's press conference saw the mood lightened by a guest showing from magician Jason Rea.

Saturday, 22nd December 2018, 2:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 4:53 pm
Ashley Barnes pulls one back at Arsenal

The award-winning Prestonian baffled and bemused all with a variety of tricks, including Clarets boss Sean Dyche.

But, unfortunately, Dyche was unable to draw inspiration and pull a rabbit from the hat at the Emirates, while the Gunners' Mezut Ozil produced his own piece of wizardry.

The former Germany international beat six Burnley defenders with the sublime pass which allowed Sead Kolasinac to pull the ball back for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to put Arsenal ahead and on the way to victory.

Dyche retained the back three which he deployed at Spurs, but in the absence of Aaron Lennon, Robbie Brady and Johann Berg Gudmundsson, played with a tight three in midfield, with two up front.

Arsenal, themselves struggling with injuries, lined up 3-4-1-2, with Ozil returning to the side as skipper.

Burnley had an early scare as James Tarkowski had to clear after Joe Hart palmed away a cross-shot from Ainsley Maitland-Niles, but Burnley broke, and Ashley Barnes fed Ashley.Westwood, who had a golden chance to put the Clarets ahead, but saw his tame shot turned behind by Bernd Leno.

Granit Xhaka then had a left-foot effort comfortably held by Hart, before the goal, as Ozil drifted across from the right and fed over a glorious ball, from which Kolasinac teed up Aubameyang to match Mohamed Salah at the top of the Premier League goals charts.

Arsenal continued to boss possession as expected, but Burnley remained compact to stay in the game, while enjoying some good periods of possession themselves.

Barnes was harshly booked after tumbling over with Sokratis on the touchline - a something and nothing exchange which sparked a melee.

And when Sokratis hauled back Barnes shortly after, he was finally booked himself.

Neither keeper was worked again before the break, as Burnley went in with real encouragement, albeit Arsenal were buoyed as they went in at the break ahead for the first time this season, remarkably.

And it was job done just after the break as Burnley couldn't make the most of another promising situation, and Arsenal broke, with Kolasinac and Alex Lacazette combining to find Aubameyang, who drilled past Hart.

Burnley showed good character, and an off-side Wood had a great chance, but couldn't control a Taylor free kick, and the chance was gone.

Referee Kevin Friend then failed to see a shove from Kolasinac on Long inside the area.

Barnes then looked lucky to avoid a second yellow as he appeared to make contact with Matteo Guendouzi's chest.

Barnes was on the spot to lash home after Long blocked substitute Lucas Torreira's attempted clearance to give the Clarets real hope, and Jack Cork spooned a great chance wide from Wood's lay off.

Kolasinac drilled an effort across goal late on as Arsenal broke again, before substitute Alex Iwobi sealed it in injury time after a mesmerising run from Ozil.