LONDON – It was tougher than it needed to be, but Arsenal showed just enough craft to work themselves out of a tight spot and emerge victorious against a typically dogged Burnley side on Saturday, winning 2-1.
It was Dani Ceballos’ first start in an Arsenal shirt after signing on loan from Real Madrid, and the 23-year-old showed why he is so highly thought of back at the Bernabeu. He wasn’t the only impressive debutant, with David Luiz looking assured at the back on his bow.
Despite controlling the ball and dominating possession throughout the 90 minutes, Gunners fans will be disappointed at how little they created against a Burnley defence that wasn’t hugely troubled.
Manager rating out of 10
6 – Unai Emery’s introduction of Nicolas Pepe at half time gave his side something different, but questions will be asked as to why the club’s record signing wasn’t on the pitch from the start. Emery still needs to work on a clear air of vulnerability in the Arsenal backline.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
DF Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 6 — Not totally convincing defensively, and didn’t get a host of opportunities to foray forward on Arsenal’s right.
DF David Luiz, 7 — A confident debut from the former Chelsea man, dealing with some potentially awkward situations competently, and using the ball well, too.
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 6 — Despite his considerable frame, Sokratis didn’t deal at all well with one or two long balls into the Arsenal defensive third, and looked the less assured of the Gunners’ central defensive pairing, without making any glaring errors.
DF Nacho Monreal, 7 — A good game from the Spaniard, who was rarely troubled at the back, and offered a reliable option on the overlap.
MF Dani Ceballos, 8 — A joy to watch, and was at the heart of everything good about Arsenal going forward. Ceballos danced his way past a host of Burnley challenges, and almost found the net from distance with a curling right-footed shot.
MF Matteo Guendouzi, 6 — Will be disappointed he couldn’t prevent Barnes from prodding home for 1-1 when he was touch-tight to the striker and able to get a foot on the ball.
MF Joe Willock, 7 — Occupied a deeper role than expected, but looks a real talent that can carry and distribute the ball. Started a beautiful Arsenal counter attack from inside his own penalty area thanks to some clever interplay, and has a real elegance when going about his business.
MF Reiss Nelson, 5 — The 19-year-old will be disappointed he didn’t make the most of some really promising openings in the final third, and was unable to provide a sustained threat on Arsenal’s left. Subbed off at the break.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 7 — A quiet first half for last week’s match winner when operating on Arsenal’s right wing, but after shifting onto the opposite flank for the second half, the Gabon international stepped things up a notch, before brilliantly cutting inside and firing home from the edge of the box to put his side 2-1 ahead.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, 7 — The Frenchman should’ve scored with a header from eight yards out, but redeemed himself almost instantly when showing great strength to work space in a congested Burnley penalty area, before squeezing the ball home for 1-0.
MF Nicolas Pepe, 6 — The Ivorian started the second half brightly with some neat touches, before wowing the crowd with a superb piece of skill to escape the attention of a Burnley’s Ben Mee. A couple of rusty loose passes thrown in for good measure, but a promising display.
DF Sead Kolasinac, N/A — Failed to get into the game on his first appearance of the season.
MF Lucas Torreira, N/R — A late introduction in place of man of the match Ceballos.