Aubameyang and the rest of the team benefitted from the return of arguably Arsenal’s two best playmakers, Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac. After a lively, end-to-end start that saw both goalkeepers make crucial saves from in close, Aubameyang scored his first thanks to an absolutely ridiculous pass from Ozil and an assist from Kolasinac. Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles did well to retain the ball on the right edge of the box to start the sequence, before a flick from Maitland-Niles gave Ozil space to curl a pass across the box to Kolasinac. There’s not much to say about Ozil’s pass other than that Kolasinac wasn’t even in the TV frame and had barely reached the box with his run when Ozil set his body to hit the pass. Kolasinac directed the ball towards Aubameyang, who got enough on his scuffed shot to find the bottom corner of the net. Ozil’s pass was similar to his assist for Nacho Monreal last season against Swansea, but better. It may not have been an assist, but that pass was up there as one of Ozil’s best in an Arsenal shirt. A true reminder of what he is capable of.
Kolasinac, back in the lineup after missing the Southampton game, was fantastic going forward, and was a threat the entire game. He nearly set up another goal shortly after Aubameyang’s but shots by Mohamed Elneny and Maitland-Niles, who had a few really good chances, were turned away.
Despite some of the attacking excellence displayed by Arsenal, it was an even first-half. Burnley were dangerous on the counter more than once, and gave Arsenal’s midfielders and defense some trouble with their aggressiveness and physicality.
Still, for the first time this season, Arsenal led at half-time of a Premier League game.
Unfortunately though, the injuries keep piling up. Nacho Monreal was forced to come off in the 37th minute, and Unai Emery elected to switch to a back three, with Stephen Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, and Granit Xhaka as the center-backs.
Aubameyang gave Arsenal an important cushion early in the 2nd half, blasting a shot past Joe Hart to finish off a perfect counter-attack. With Burnley buzzing around Arsenal’s box, Matteo Guendouzi found Kolasinac with an outlet pass down the left wing, Kolasinac slid a pass to Lacazette in the center, and Lacazette laid it off to Aubameyang to do the rest. Just like that, it was 2-0.
Burnley responded well, however, and would have made it 2-1 had Sokratis not slid in to make a last-ditch tackle on Chris Wood. Arsenal had attempted an offside trap on a Burnley free-kick, which seemed to work only for the linesman not to call offside.
Ashley Barnes, who drew the ire of Arsenal players and fans all games with his fouls, did get Burnley on the scoresheet in the 63rd minute, pouncing on multiple failed clearances in the box to fire a shot past Bernd Leno. A wide open Jack Cork very nearly could have made it 2-2 in the 70th minute, but he fluffed his shot from the edge of the box.
That missed chance ended up being Burnley’s best opportunity to steal a point, and Alex Iwobi sealed the victory for Arsenal in the 91st minute. Ozil set up the goal, dribbling past a Burnley defender and sending a shot/pass, aided by a deflection, Iwobi’s way.
Overall, it wasn’t a standout performance from Arsenal, but they bounced back from a rough week, earned three points, and we all got to watch that pass from Mesut Ozil. Not bad.
The Gunners are back in action on Boxing Day, the 26th, to play Brighton away.