BURNLEY SCARE FA CUP HOLDERS
Arsenal through thanks to Alexis
SEAN Dyche praised his “awkward” Burnley side after they pushed Arsenal all the way at the Emirates Stadium, before falling to a narrow defeat.
Calum Chambers and Alexis Sanchez scored either side of a Sam Vokes equaliser to give the Gunners victory.
But despite the disappointment the Clarets’ boss praised his players for the spirit and endeavour they showed after hauling themselves back into the game following the early setback.
“It was strong from us to come down here and deliver a performance that pushed them all the way,” he said.
“We wanted to be a more awkward customer and I think we were. We created plenty of chances and scored a fine goal. Unfortunately we gave them a very cheap second goal. That can happen here but as a manager you’re disappointed in that moment.
“You come to win, wherever you are. People on the outside probably didn’t think we had a chance, but we did.
“So that’s the ultimate disappointment – that we didn’t get something from the game. But when you look at the overall performance I was pleased with it.”
Chambers opened the scoring on 19 minutes as he capped off an exceptional team move. It was his second goal for the Gunners – his first coincidentally also against Burnley, in November 2014.
It came after a long spell of neat and patient build-up play around the edge of the box. The ball was eventually worked out wide to the England Under-21 international, who expertly curled the ball with the outside of his foot across goal and into the corner. However, within 11 minutes Burnley were level through Vokes.With the visitors content to let Arsene Wenger’s side dominate possession – 75 per cent in the opening half-hour – any success was likely to come through a counter-attack or set piece, and it proved to be the latter.
Arsenal failed to clear David Jones’ corner and, after a brief scramble in the box, George Boyd picked up the ball on the edge of the box. He looked wide to find Tendayi Darikwa bursting down the wing.The right-back whipped in an inch-perfect cross onto the head of Vokes, who rose above Gabriel and headed Burnley level.
With a title to chase and back-toback Champions League games against Barcelona fast approaching, Wenger would have been keen to avoid a replay and in the second half the Gunners came out of the blocks flying.
Following an incisive breakaway Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was played into space on the right wing. He picked out Sanchez with a low cross and the game’s standout performer calmly slotted Arsenal back into the lead and into Sunday’s draw.
The victory means the Gunners remain on course to become the first team to win the FA Cup three times in a row since Blackburn in 1886.
But the Arsenal boss insists his side will not be distracted by the prospect of becoming history makers.
“We have only passed two rounds, it’s a long way to go,” Wenger said. “We are still in three competitions so we try every time to get a team out to pass the round.
“We needed to work. At the start it looked like it would be easy because we had a lot of the ball and good opportunities around the box. When it became 1-1 it became a different game because we were a bit shocked and they gained belief.
“Everything they do is based on efficiency and they’ve shown that again.”
CLARETS CUT DOWN: Alexis Sanchez scores the second goal for Arsenal