Martin Odegaard’s exquisite free-kick fired Arsenal to back-to-back Premier League wins as they edged out Burnley 1-0 at Turf Moor on Saturday.
Odegaard scored his second Premier League goal, and his first since joining Arsenal permanently from Real Madrid in the summer, on the half-hour mark as Mikel Arteta’s side followed last weekend’s maiden victory over Norwich with another three points.
Burnley succumbed to a fourth league defeat in five but were aggrieved not to get at least a point from the game when a controversial VAR intervention saw referee Anthony Taylor’s overturn his decision to award the Clarets a penalty after Aaron Ramsdale had tripped substitute Matej Vydra seconds after he pointed to the spot.
The victory lifts Arsenal up to 12th in the table and signifies a turning of the corner for the Gunners after defeats in their first three games. Burnley, meanwhile, sit second bottom in the table with just one point.
Burnley: Pope (6), Lowton (6), Tarkowski (6), Mee (6), Taylor (6), Gudmundsson (5), Westwood (6), Brownhill (5), McNeil (5), Barnes (5), Wood (5).
Subs: Vydra (6), Cornet (6), Rodriguez (n/a).
Arsenal: Ramsdale (8), Tomiyasu (7), Gabriel (7), White (7), Tierney (7), Partey (5), Odegaard (8), Pepe (6), Smith Rowe (5), Saka (6), Aubameyang (5).
Subs: Maitland-Niles (5), Lokonga (5), Tavares (n/a).
Man of the match: Aaron Ramsdale
Odegaard magic gets Arsenal over the line
Arsenal headed to Lancashire looking to build on their long-awaited first win of the season against Norwich last time out, and almost took the lead inside six minutes at Turf Moor when Kieran Tierney’s cutback found Nicolas Pepe, but his first attempt was thwarted by Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope before he bundled the second wide.
Burnley adopted route-one tactics in a bid to assert their physicality on Arsenal and almost found the breakthrough on nine minutes when Pope’s long ball was collected in the area by Ashley Barnes, who volleyed onto the roof of the net.
Barnes squandered the first clear-cut chance of the game shortly before the quarter-hour mark. Ashley Westwood’s inch-perfect cross found the striker unmarked in the Arsenal area, but he didn’t realise how much time he had and sent a rushed header wide of the target.
- Burnley were unchanged from Monday’s defeat at Everton, with Sean Dyche resisting the temptation to hand summer signing Maxwel Cornet his Clarets debut.
- Emile Smith Rowe and Thomas Partey returned as Arsenal made two changes from the victory over Norwich.
Both sides struggled to retain possession and apply concerted pressure on the opposition goals until a moment of individual brilliance opened the scoring. After Bukayo Saka’s dangerous driving run was halted by Westwood, Odegaard whipped a sumptuous free-kick over the Burnley wall and into the top corner of the net past the helpless Pope.
Some alert defending from Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes was needed to prevent Barnes from drawing Burnley level on 39 minutes, but Arsenal finished the half strong and should have doubled their lead when Emile Smith Rowe blazed over from Pepe’s cutback on the stroke of half-time.
Arsenal should have doubled their lead on 52 minutes when Smith Rowe casually stroked a shot straight at Pope after brilliant link-up play between Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Burnley only started to muster a fightback when record signing Maxel Cornet came off the bench, and he needed just two minutes to register an attempt of goal, but he was denied a debut goal by a superb save from Ramsdale.
Things looked to take a turn for the worse for Ramsdale and Arsenal when referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot when Matej Vydra was up-ended after pouncing on a weak White backpass, but VAR spotted the Gunners goalkeeper had made contact with the ball before the player and the decision was overturned.
Chris Wood headed his only chance of the game over, Dwight McNeil fired into the side-netting and Vydra glanced a cross wide as Arsenal held on to extend their unbeaten league run at Turf Moor to 10 games.
The full-time whistle was greeted with unsavoury scenes between both home and away supporters, who hurled abuse and missiles at each other before heeding instructions from stewards and the stadium announcer and dispersing after a 10-minute altercation.
- Arsenal have won consecutive league games by a 1-0 scoreline for the first time since December 2014.
- Burnley are now winless in their last 13 Premier League home games, while they’re also winless in their last 10 home league games against Arsenal.
- 11 different players had a shot for Burnley today – only once have they ever had more players with an attempt in a Premier League match (12 vs Wolves in March 2010).
- Martin Odegaard scored Arsenal’s 40th direct free-kick in the Premier League; he’s the 17th different player to score one for the Gunners, with only Newcastle (19), Everton and Manchester City (both 18) having more different scorers.
What the managers said…
Burnley manager Sean Dyche: “It was a good performance. I feel like a broken record saying that lately. In the first half we didn’t do a lot wrong. In the second half I thought we smothered the game. It’s head-scratching that we didn’t score.
“We created a couple of good-ish chances. We took the game on fantastically well, but you’ve got to find that killer edge. I thought we defended very well today and limited Arsenal to very few chances, which is difficult to do.
“It’s very rare that we dominate a game today like we did against them. That clinical edge in both boxes is important. That was a really strong performance in the end.”
Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta: “It was a hard-fought victory at a really tough place. You have to be ready for a fight.
“In the first half we had some really good periods when we were really dominant and should have scored more goals. In the second half we gave the ball away cheaply too many times.
“We have players who are not at their strength playing in this type of game, but they did their best and we got the win. I’m very proud of them defensively and I’m really pleased with the win. It’s two wins in a row, two clean sheets. Let’s go again. We have a lot to catch up!”
Merson: Ramsdale ‘outstanding’
Sky Sports’ Paul Merson:
“Sean Dyche will be disappointed his team played into Arsenal’s hands in the first half. Arsenal were very attacking and Burnley sort of bought into that and started passing the ball around themselves. They didn’t get the ball in the box enough in the first half; the two times they did, they caused Arsenal problems.
“Burnley were more themselves in the second half but came up against Aaron Ramsdale, who was outstanding. I’ve been critical of him in the past, but he took pressure off the team, was confident and made the right decisions, particularly for the back pass which led to the penalty decision.
“If I was Mikel Arteta, I’d be really pleased with the overall performance, but Arsenal have to work on their final pass and putting teams away.”
Man of the Match – Aaron Ramsdale
Aaron Ramsdale is the first goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in each of his first three appearances for Arsenal since Wojciech Sczcesny between 2009/2010.
Burnley host Rochdale on Tuesday at 7.45pm, and Arsenal host AFC Wimbledon on Wednesday at 7.45pm, in the third round of the Carabao Cup. Burnley then travel to Leicester in the Premier League on Saturday at 3pm, before Arsenal host Tottenham in the north London derby on Super Sunday at 4.30pm – live on Sky Sports Premier League.