Martin Odegaard’s first-half goal was enough to earn Arsenal their second victory of the season with a 1-0 triumph over Burnley at Turf Moor.
The Norwegian struck a sweet free kick from the edge of the area to give Mikel Arteta a boost. Burnley were poor and needed the introduction of Maxwell Cornet to spark them into life. But they could not find a way through and have just one point this term.
Sean Dyche committed his future to the club earlier this week, admitting he had “no hesitation” in agreeing a new contract. And he stuck with the same starting XI that lost to Everton on Monday night.
But Arteta made a couple of changes from the side that took care of Norwich. Emile Smith Rowe and Thomas Partey replaced Sambi Lokonga and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
The Gunners were looking to build on their first victory of the campaign and they began brightly with crisp, accurate passing. And it was the visitors that created the first chance on six minutes.
Odegaard played Kieran Tierney in and his cross found Nicolas Pepe. The Ivorian had two bites at the cherry but Nick Pope kept the score level.
Burnley responded in traditional style, with Pope’s long ball finding Ashley Barnes, whose volley sailed over the bar. And their first chance seemed to inspire the home side, who continued to pressurise the Arsenal rearguard.
Barnes should have done better on 14 minutes as his rushed header from Ashley Westwood’s cross flew wide of the target. The 31-year-old was then booked after his arm struck Tierney in the face.
The game started to become bogged down and needed a goal. The Gunners duly provided one on the half-hour mark.
Westwood was booked for tripping Bukayo Saka on the edge of the Burnley box. Odegaard stepped up and struck the free-kick perfectly over the wall and into the back of the net.
Odegaard's left foot is the difference at the break 🤩
🔴🔵 0-1 🟡 (HT)#BURARS
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 18, 2021
Burnley’s response was to revert to type, with multiple long balls. And the Gunners defence had to act quickly to prevent Barnes getting a shot away as the half drew to a close.
Mikel Arteta’s side were equal to anything thrown at them during the first 45 minutes. And they were almost two goals to the good on the stroke of half time as Smith Rowe blasted over from close range.
Burnley emerged from the dressing room with purpose and forced Aaron Ramsdale into an early save. Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s initial shot was blacked but the keeper was called into action from Westwood’s volley.
Smith Rowe then wasted a gilt-edged chance to double the Gunners lead. Precise build-up play saw the youngster one-on-one with Pope but a weak shot was easily dealt with.
Record signing makes Burnley bow
Just before the hour mark, Barnes and Gudmundsson made way for Matej Vydra and record-signing Cornet. And the Ivorian had only been on the pitch for three minutes before enjoying his first chance.
Ramsdale’s outstretched palm thwarted what would have been a popular goal. The African’s presence lifted Burnley and sparked the game into life.
Aubameyang then released Pepe into the Burnley area and his shot forced Pope into a smart save.
Dyche’s men were awarded a penalty on 70 minutes when Ramsdale seemed to make contact with Vydra after Ben White’s poor back pass. However referee Anthony Taylor reversed his decision after viewing the pitchside monitor.
The Clarets chief was far from amused in the technical area and he then watched as his charges struggled to break Arsenal down.
They piled on the pressure during the final few minutes. Cornet whipped in a cross for substitute Jay Rodriguez right at the death. But, once again, the effort failed to trouble the keeper.
The result means back-to-back 1-0 victories for the north Londoners. They are yet to hit top form but will take the three points and move on.