Report: Arsenal 3-1 Burnley
One of the most profligate performances ever by Arsenal made tough work of a vital home win over Burnley.
Excessive misses in front of goal – with Bendtner the prime culprit – cost Arsenal only the scare of Nugent’s equalizer after Fabregas’ opener before goals from Theo Walcott and Andrey Arshavin spared any major embarrassment in a 3-1 victory.
The Gunners were still stinging from the bitter fall-out of Aaron Ramsey’s horror injury at Stoke last weekend and there was more support for the Wales midfielder as his teammates modeled shirts reading ‘Get Well Soon Aaron’ before kick-off.
It was also easy to presume that Arsene Wenger slightly feared a repeat of the wobble that afflicted his side two years ago after Eduardo’s injury. Arsenal failed to win their next four games following the Croatian’s injury at Birmingham – wrecking their title hopes that season.
So the visit of travel sick Burnley came at an ideal time for Wenger.
And Arsenal could have been coasting within 15 minutes, with Tomas Rosicky and Fabregas both narrowly missing the target.But they finally eased into the lead 11 minutes before half-time with Fabregas’s 14th league goal of the season.
Burnley captain Graham Alexander was completely bamboozled by Samir Nasri’s clever pass and Fabregas was presented with the easy task of slotting the ball under Brian Jensen.
It was to be Fabregas’s last contribution of the match, though, as he limped off shortly afterwards to be replaced by Abou Diaby. Nicklas Bendtner squandered two excellent chances early in the second half before Walcott lashed a powerful drive just over the bar.
But Burnley stunned the Emirates into silence five minutes in as Nugent capitalised on dithering defending from Thomas Vermaelen and Mikael Silvestre to lob the ball over Manuel Almunia.
Walcott eased home nerves, however, by firing Arsenal back into the lead just after the hour with a curling shot from just inside the box. But Arsenal’s defence hardly impressed in the latter stages and a late bombardment from the visitors nearly earned Burnley a shock equaliser.
Almunia flapped at a Chris Eagles corner and substitute Steven Thompson blasted over from a good position.
Arsenal finally made the game safe in added time when Russia international Arshavin hit the target.