Only Mo Salah, with 24, has more Premier League goals since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s debut than Aubemayang (22).Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice as Arsenal hung on to maintain pressure on the top four and leave Burnley in the Premier League bottom three at Christmas.
Mesut Ozil – making a first start in six league matches – produced a sublime defence-splitting pass to Sead Kolasinac for Arsenal’s opener, with the defender picking out Aubameyang for his 11th league goal of the season.
Remarkably, after 18 top-flight games, Arsenal led at the interval for the first time this season and it took the Gunners fewer than three second-half minutes to double the advantage, Aubameyang’s powerful finish completing a quick counter-attack.
Burnley kept to their task though and Ashley Barnes brought the Clarets back into the contest on 63 minutes with a low finish after the home side failed to clear.
The home fans grew increasingly nervous as Burnley pushed for an equaliser but Alex Iwobi scored from close range in stoppage-time to ensure the Gunners moved level with fourth-placed Chelsea ahead of the Blues’ match against Leicester.
Returning Ozil inspires Arsenal
After their impressive 22-game unbeaten run was ended by a revitalised Southampton last weekend, Arsenal exited the Carabao Cup to north London rivals Tottenham in midweek and needed to produce a response at Emirates Stadium – if only to keep in touch with the top four.
Unai Emery’s side started accordingly. The Arsenal manager stated this week that Ozil does have a future at Arsenal and the opener was all about the midfielder’s genius.
The German demonstrated his value to the Gunners with a ball from the edge of the area that curled behind the Burnley defence, finding Kolasinac at the back post and his first-time flick back found Aubameyang, who placed his shot into the bottom corner.
Success so far this campaign has relied on strong second-half showings from Arsenal, and the tireless Kolasinac lead an explosive counter-attack on 47 minutes which resulted in Aubameyang firing his second into the roof of Joe Hart’s goal.
And Ozil was at the heart of Arsenal’s third, drifting into the penalty area and committing a couple of defenders before his scuffed shot found its way to Iwobi. Replays suggested the Arsenal substitute was marginally offside but the match officials allowed the goal to stand.
It provided welcome relief for the Gunners after Burnley had threatened to snatch a point.
The Gunners have been forced to field a makeshift defence in recent games – leading Emery to admit he may use the January transfer window to strengthen his options – and there were often hints of that fragility before Barnes eventually took advantage of some half-hearted attempts to clear to halve Burnley’s deficit.
And the hosts continued to struggle after the Clarets turned the contest into a bruising battle.
More to follow.